Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ye Olde Goode Time

Last weekend my family went to the Michigan Renaissance Festival. This was something I liked to do when I was younger, and it is something Emily and I did together once we started dating. Since going to seminary and moving to Iowa - and especially after having kids - we have not been able to go. This is the first time we've been able to go in about seven years or more. The best part is that we got to take our kids. It was a lot of fun. Here's a video clip of Evelyn and Dominic dueling with rapiers.

Evelyn didn't understand why the gamesman called her A Big Loser-Face, but we explained it to her. Right after where the video ends the gamesman shouts out, "Give it up for the girl who beat up her little brother!"

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Holy Cross

Today marks the leavetaking of the feast The Elevation of the Holy Cross. We are fortunate to elevate and venerate the Holy Cross every week at our parish. An icon-styled crucifix stands behind the altar, reminding us constantly of the center of our salvation - as our priest put it. At the end of the Liturgy, as we all leave, we each get to go forward and kiss the cross that our priest holds and has used to bless the congregation. But chiefly we venerate the cross each Liturgy in the Eucharist: both in being offered in Christ (Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee for Thine own) and in receiving Christ's Body and Blood.

The Elevation of the Holy Cross, though, is a special feast day. Here we venerate not merely the notion that our Lord was crucified, but that our Lord, the Holy One of Israel, has sanctified all that He assumes. And on the cross He assumes death - sanctifying it unto life, and suffering - sanctifying it unto glory, and in so doing sanctifies all creation in Him through His Blood shed and His Body broken.

So the Holy Cross - this instrument of suffering and death, upon which the Savior's Blood flowed and into which His Body was ground - is sanctified with the sanctity of Christ Himself.

Here is a quote from our Church Bulletin, retelling the account behind the feast day:

Underneath the Basil, the Cross of Christ was found, but with it were the other two crosses, those used to crucify the two thieves on either side of Christ. The sign with the inscription, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews", also lay among the three crosses. In order to determine which one was the true cross, a sick woman was told to kiss each of the three crosses. The woman kissed the first cross with no result. She kissed the second cross and again nothing happened. However, when the ailing woman kissed the True Cross, she was immediately made well. It so happened that a funeral procession was passing that way, and so the body of the dead man came to life – thus the name the "Life-Giving" Cross, which gives life not only to that man, but to each person who believes in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and His all-glorious three day Resurrection.

Here is highlighted the true glory of the feast day: be it wood, a thief, Death, or man, all are overwhelmed by the sanctification by which our Lord saves us. Dead wood, used to inflict harm and death, becomes Life-bearing and life-giving. The thief finds his condemnation sanctified by mercy and enters into Paradise. Death is sanctified by the Savior's death and is trampled underfoot. Man is sanctified by the Incarnate One and rises in Victory over the Enemy and sits in glory at the right hand of God.

The Feast of the Holy Cross is very special and very important. The historical circumstances remind us again - not through accident (for there is no accident, only Providence) - what that special work of salvation is which the Lord Christ would work in us every day until He returns in glory. Kyrie eleison.

Afterfeast Hymn:
Kontakion - Tone 4
As You were voluntarily raised upon the cross for our sake,
Grant mercy to those who are called by Your Name, O Christ God;
Make all Orthodox Christians glad by Your power,
Granting them victories over their adversaries,
By bestowing on them the Invincible trophy, Your weapon of Peace.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Liturgical Vestments III

This continues a series on vestments in the Church of Jesus Christ. Vestments help us remember the divine dignity which is God's, and which is given to those who serve him. They help us remember the angelic service the sacred ministers engage in, and just as important, they remind those who serve just Who they serve.

Eastern Rite: Phelonion

My first impression of the phelonion is that it is like a cape - one that goes near the floor in the back and hangs unusually low in the front. The front originally hung lower in time past, but has since been shortened to allow more freedom of movement. Like its Western version, the phelonion historically started as poncho-styled garment.

The phelonion is worn by the priest over all other liturgical garments. Its use is not restricted to the Divine Liturgy. For instance, at Great Vespers each Saturday a priest is normally clothed in his anteri and exorasson (inner and outer cassocks), and vested in his epitrachelion (stole), but for a portion of the service he dons the phelonion.

The phelonion comes in two styles. The Byzantine or Greek style is rounded about the neck and shoulders. The Russian or Athos style has a more boxed, trapezoid-style appearance.

Above is the Greek-style Phelonion; below is the Russian-styled. Both are shown with the epitrachelion beneath. The Russian version is also shown with Nabedrennik (a clergy award) and Epigonation (denoting a priest blessed to hear confessions).

Here is a photo of Fr. Daniel Hackney at his ordination. He is wearing a gold phelonion over his epitrachelion. Many years, Fr. Daniel! It was fun shouting out "Axios!" with the congregation.

The Sakkos

Normally a bishop does not wear the phelonion, but rather dons the sakkos, which fits about his frame more than the free-flowing phelonion.

Above we see a bishop being vested with the sakkos on the solea. This is from a detail of rubrics found at St. Elias Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, a non-canonical Eastern Rite church under the rule of the Roman Pope.

Sometimes the bishop may not wish to celebrate the Divine Liturgy with all the special rites and prayers that usually attend a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy (i.e. a Liturgy where the Bishop is present). In that case he may wear the phelonion instead of the sakkos. He will, though, still wear the most definitive of all episcopal vestments: the omophorion.

The Omophorion

This band of cloth - not to be confused with an orarion, epitrachelion, or stole - signifies the bishop as being pastor and icon of Christ. (Compare the omophorion to the icon of Christ the Good Shepherd, carrying the lost sheep on His shoulders.)

The omophorion comes in two sizes: the great omophorion and the small omophorion.

Here is an icon of St. Athanasius, who is wearing a dark omophorion over his cross-patterned sakkos.

Above is a Ukrainian Roman Catholic bishop being vested with the great omophorion. Below is an example of the small omophorion sold by Istok.

The small omophorion.

Western Rite: Chasuble ... and more

While the poncho-like vestment became the phelonion in the East, in the West it became the chasuble. Modern vestment makers tend to market the chasuble in three styles: Gothic, Monastic, and Roman. Suffice to say, aside from these catalog names, the chasuble tends to be roughly poncho-shaped, though not necessarily perfectly-so. What is called the "Roman" style is a late invention, in which the cut is reduced and the shape is stiffened. It is also referred to as the Roman Fiddle-back. The chasuble is worn by priest and bishop alike.

Above is a typical chasuble. Below is a Roman Fiddleback.

Dalmatic and Tunicle

In the Eastern Rite the Dalmatic and Tunicle would fall under the category of sticherion, or alb. In the Western Rite these are Eucharistic vestments in their own sense, worn over the alb (or East: sticharion). What the chasuble is to the priest, the dalmatic is to the deacon, and the tunicle is to the subdeacon (though it can also be worn by the thurifer or crucifer).

The dalmatic is worn by the deacon over his alb and stole. It is normally decorated by two horizontal bands and two vertical bands.

The tunicle is worn by the subdeacon over his alb (he has no stole to wear in the Western Rite).

Above is the dalmatic, available from Slabbinck. Below is the tunicle. Apart from their banding they seem very similar in appearance (the neck style is immaterial to the garment's purpose here).

The Pallium

I don't want to go into all the intricacies of episcopal vestments here, but I do wish to make this one link between Eastern and Western vestments. In the East the bishops wear the omophorion. In the West it is the pallium. While the omophorion is worn by all bishops in the Eastern Rite, the pallium in the Western Rite is worn only by those of Metropolitan ranking or higher. It is basically a white wool band adorned with six crosses. I will be so bold as to include a picture of the current Roman Pope Francis wearing the modern pallium.

Pope Francis wearing the pallium.
In the Roman Catholic church the reception of the pallium from the Pope is a symbol of one's submission to his authority.  Hence in the Roman church's Byzantine rite the metropolitans are often given not only the traditional eastern omophorion, but also the pallium on top of that. It looks funny to see them wearing both at the same time.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Encountering Orthodoxy in Fort Wayne

This evening we were privileged to attend the Basic Class in Orthodoxy held at our church at 7:00 p.m. Our priest, Fr. Anthony, is a very learned and capable teacher. He seems to be very at home in Orthodoxy, having been Orthodox all his life. Plus he's just easy to talk with.

We don't usually get to attend this class. We live an hour away from Fort Wayne, and we can't be driving around on school nights. This night, though, Emily's parents were able to watch the kids. Besides having time together, we were able to enjoy Fr. Anthony's class. Afterward there was some wonderful conversation about things Orthodox (mostly his end), Lutheran (mostly my end), and many other wonderful things.

Normally we only get to attend our catechetical class on Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. at the church. Others have begun to sit in on the class; Fr. Anthony has been very welcoming to us and all inquirers. It's been a very good time.

If you live or are visiting the Ft. Wayne area, the saints at St. John Chrysostom would love to welcome you. Here's some of the typical weekly schedule:

+ Matins at 9:00 a.m.
+ Liturgy at 10:15 a.m.

+ Basic Class in Orthodoxy at 7:00 p.m.

+ Catechesis** at 3:00 p.m.
+ Great Vespers at 5:00 p.m.

**Call ahead to confirm Saturday's catechesis. My family is gone at least one weekend per month. We are the only ones in catechesis, so when we're gone, then the class doesn't usually meet. However, that doesn't mean Fr. Anthony wouldn't hold the class if there were inquirers or others interested in it.

Of special note is the upcoming feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross. It will be celebrated the evening of Sept. 13 (Sunday) at 6:30 p.m. If this seems odd, to celebrate a feast the evening before, it is because the liturgical day begins with Vespers, not with midnight.

The Church is located at 402 Badiac Dr., NOT ON PUTNAM STREET ANYMORE (the Web site for the congregation hasn't been updated in all places yet by the webmaster). Badiac is off Coldwater, just north of Dupont Rd.

Glory to God: Fr. Stephen Hits it on the Head

Before I get back to examining Eastern and Western vestments, I would like to call attention to Fr. Stephen Freeman's latest post, "Doctrine and Opinion." It's not a stuffy or boring post, as sometimes the topic seems to be to some. Here's a sample:

It has been noted on this blog (and in many other places) that argumentation rarely brings someone into the faith. Argument may have an important role to play in the lives of some – but generally the Orthodox faith (even for those who came to believe it through argumentation) must be embraced not as the result of right argument – but as a gift from God given to us to correct our heart and rightly dispose us to the work of God within us.

Fr. Stephen has a podcast on Ancient Faith Radio: Glory to God.

Liturgical Vestments II

Eastern Rite: Orarion, Epitrachelion

Whether you are talking about the orarion or the epitrachelion, both are a band of decorated or brocaded cloth.

Subdeacons and Deacons wear the orarion over their sticherion or dalmatic. The Subdeacon wears his around his waist, then over each shoulder forming an X across his back, and then bringing the orarion back over the shoulders to the front to tuck under the part already around his waist. (According to an Orthowiki article, some traditions may bless an ordained acolyte to wear the orarion, in which case it is worn in the manner of a subdeacon.)

(Above is an example of the subdeacon's orarion worn over the sticharion. Newly-ordained Subdeacon John Hogg stands with his father, Fr. Gregory, overlooking.)

The Deacon wears his orarion over the left shoulder alone, draping it straight downward. Among the Greeks the Deacon's orarion is longer and worn over the left shoulder and once around the chest to come back up to the left shoulder. This is called the double orarion. Among the Russians this looping method is bestowed as an award.

(Above is the single orarion worn over a simple yet lovely sticharion. Below is a deacon's dalmatic worn with the double orarion.)

Priests and Bishops wear the epitrachelion around the neck. It tends to be a wide cloth when viewed from the front. Often the epitrachelion is held together with buttons down the front, which gives the appearance of a single piece of cloth with a hole for the neck at the top.

(Above is an example of a typical epitrachelion.)

Western Rite: Stole

The stole is the same basic idea as the orarion and epitrachelion. It is a band of decorated or brocaded cloth. Some are wider, some are thinner, but all follow the same basic premise.

Subdeacons do not wear a stole in the Western Rite. Deacons wear the stole over the left shoulder, not vertically so but diagonally across the chest and back to cross at or near the opposite hip.

(Above is an example of a typical modern deacon's stole.)

Priests wear the stole around the neck, but it is not joined down the center as with the epitrachelion. Instead each side is brought together to form an X shape across the front.

(Above is an example of a typical priest's stole.)

Bishops wear the stole around the neck, too, but it does not join together in an X at all. Rather, each side hangs vertically.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wisdom: St. John Cassian

In my former life I used to post these sorts of things under the heading "Ancient Wisdom." Having entered the catechumenate of the Orthodox Church it doesn't seem right to attach the word "ancient" to the title anymore. Sure, AD 495 was long ago enough to be classified as ancient. But the wisdom of the Fathers in Orthodoxy is not something merely for past days long gone. It is wisdom for the Church, and that means insight and guidance that is always needful, so long as we always desire to be and remain Christians.

The following quotation is from The Twelve Institutes of St. John Cassian. It is chapter XXII, located in Book V:

FOR it is not an external enemy whom we have to dread. Our foe is shut up within ourselves: an internal warfare is daily waged by us: and if we are victorious in this, all external things will be made weak, and everything will be made peaceful and subdued for the soldier of Christ. We shall have no external enemy to fear, if what is within is overcome and subdued to the spirit. And let us not believe that that external fast from visible food alone can possibly be sufficient for perfection of heart and purity of body unless with it there has also been united a fast of the soul. For the soul also has its foods which are harmful, fattened on which, even without superfluity of meats, it is involved in a downfall of wantonness. Slander is its food, and indeed one that is very dear to it. A burst of anger also is its food, even if it be a very slight one; yet supplying it with miserable food for an hour, and destroying it as well with its deadly savour. Envy is a food of the mind, corrupting it with its poisonous juices and never ceasing to make it wretched and miserable at the prosperity and success of another. Kenodoxia, i.e., vainglory is its food, which gratifies it with a delicious meal for a time; but afterwards strips it clear and bare of all virtue, and dismisses it barren and void of all spiritual fruit, so that it makes it not only lose the rewards of huge labours, but also makes it incur heavier punishments. All lust and shifty wanderings of heart are a sort of food for the soul, nourishing it on harmful meats, but leaving it afterwards without share of the heavenly bread and of really solid food. If then, with all the powers we have, we abstain from these in a most holy fast, our observance of the bodily fast will be both useful and profitable. For labour of the flesh, when joined with contrition of the spirit, will produce a sacrifice that is most acceptable to God, and a worthy shrine of holiness in the pure and undefiled inmost chambers of the heart. But if, while fasting as far as the body is concerned, we are entangled in the most dangerous vices of the soul, our humiliation of the flesh will do us no good whatever, while the most precious part of us is defiled: since we go wrong through that substance by virtue of which we are made a shrine of the Holy Ghost. For it is not so much the corruptible flesh as the clean heart, which is made a shrine for God, and a temple of the Holy Ghost. We ought therefore, whenever the outward man fasts, to restrain the inner man as well from food which is bad for him: that inner man, namely, which the blessed Apostle above all urges us to present pure before God, that it may be found worthy to receive Christ as a guest within, saying "that in the inner man Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith."

I encourage you to visit the blog from where I got the icon of St. John Cassian. A fuller version of the icon is there, along with a synopsis of his life.

Liturgical Vestments I

There's a great interview from Ancient Faith Radio about vestments, hosted by Frederica Matthewes-Greene. I found it interesting.

Eastern Rite: Sticherion

This is the basic liturgical vestment, and is essentially the baptismal garment. It is long and narrow, reaching near the ankles, and it usually fastens beneath the neck. Its material and appearance depend upon how it is used, or rather, by whom it is used.

Acolytes wear the sticharion as an outer garment. As such it is ornamented to some extent, usually with a cross attached to the back between the shoulders.

Subdeacons and Deacons also wear the sticharion as an outer garment. Again it is ornamented, often more than that of the acolyte sticharion, and may be of the color of the day. The sides are tailored open but held closed by decorative buttons or bands of brocade. Traditionally the use of the sticharion in this fashion is called the dalmatikon (i.e. dalmatic).

Priests and Bishops wear the sticharion as a garment under their other vestments. It's made more simply, usually of white or gold (though I've seen other colors to match the outer vestments). 

Western Rite: Alb

Literally it means "white thing." It doesn't have the variety of color and design that one finds in the Eastern Rite; it's usually just white, with minimal adornment (though apparels have been added for decoration at times).

Acolytes usually don't wear the alb in my experience. Rather they wear cassock with cotta or surplice.

Subdeacons and Deacons do seem to wear the alb, over which the tunicle or dalmatic is worn. Unlike the Eastern Rite, these have become garments separate from the alb.

Priests and Bishops wear the plain alb beneath their other Eucharistic vestments.

The alb is normally worn with an amice (band of cloth around the neck to protect against sweat) and a cincture (a simple belt to keep things together).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vestments and Vesture

One thing that is a bit hard about switching from a Western liturgical background to an Eastern rite is the vestments. At first there are so many other things that are more important than figuring out the vestments, but eventually a person says to himself, "Hey, what's going on up there? Those cuffs are pretty neat, but where's all the stuff with which I'm familiar?"

There are many vestments in the Eastern Rite, but it's not so many when you get around their names. Vestments would be a general term under which we can describe the vesture of clergy and monastics (and sometimes laity) in their liturgical and non-liturgical settings. Right now I want to look at what is worn outside the Liturgy and prayer offices (Orthros, Vespers, etc.), that is, what is not specifically a liturgical garment.

Eastern Rite: Anterri

No, these are not pajamas. This is the Eastern cassock. It is the basic garment of priests and monastics. When not serving at the Liturgy or another service the anterri is what you might consider normal dress.

I have found them in three styles: Greek, Russian, and Serbian. The Greek is pictured to the side, featuring a tie around the waist and a pocket. The Russian, called podryasnik, is double-breasted with a high collar buttoned off-center. The Serbian cassock I have seen has buttons from the top down to just below the chest and was put on over the head.

Laity: A layperson might wear the anterri with the blessing of the priest when assisting during Vespers, Orthros, or Liturgy, though not always. I suppose for the laity this non-liturgical bit of vesture becomes a liturgical vestment. However, canonically the anterri or podryasnik is not a lay garment, but the proper and normal attire for those with the clerical tonsure and/or the monastic tonsure.

Monastic: The monk wears the anterri at all times. It is his basic clothing.

Clergy: This is the basic vesture of the clergy, though in America it is very common to see clergy wear black slacks and a black clerical when out and about, rather than the anterri. This is an accommodation to America, though it may not be as necessary in today's cultural climate as it was thirty or forty years ago.

Western Rite: Cassock

Those familiar with Western liturgy will be familiar with the cassock. It tends to come in a Roman/Latin style (i.e. with buttons down the front) or Anglican/Sarum style (i.e. double-breasted). I've always favored the Roman. They are very comfortable.

Laity: When worn by the laity the cassock serves as a liturgical garment.

Monastic: Are there any Western Rite monastics? I honestly don't know. Thanks, Dave, for the answer and links to a couple Western Rite monasteries. Adding on to the original post, the monastic wears the Tunic, which is similar to the cassock and the anterri. Usually it is worn with a cincture.

Clergy: Like the anterri, the cassock is the regular apparel of those in clerical orders, major or minor.

Origin of the Anterri / Cassock

The cassock was originally just the tunic, the most basic garment worn by nearly all people in the Roman Empire. The tunic was covered with a mantle (think cloak). Monastics and clergy eventually adopted the color black for their tunics for symbolic reasons. Ancient Faith Radio has an enlightening article on the topic by the Opinionated Tailor, Krista West.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Byzantine Chant

Byzantine chant is rather different from Western Gregorian chant. It is very beautiful, but simplicity is not its chief characteristic. Our lead chanter gave me a CD with some wonderful Arabic examples of how to use the 8 tones of Byzantine chant. I understand there is much art involved in its execution, but I'm assured there are technical rules, too. I can't wait to meet them.

Here's a nice example of the beauty of Byzantine chant from

For now I think I'm starting to get a handle on Psalm 140(141) in Tone 8. Maybe. Probably not. We'll see.