Tuesday, December 12. 2006
Please feel free to comment, criticize, praise, expand, elaborate or discuss one, two or all three of the reflections. Your comments on meeting in Syosset are welcome as well.
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The Church of Russia continues to follow the OCA scandal. The Patriarchate translated the OCA release on the joint Synod/Metropolitan Council meetings and added explanations of the MC, Synod and Proskauer Rose investigation.
#1 Nina Tkachuk Dimas on 2006-12-12 12:41
Who cares what the Russians continue to follow? We are American and we can fend for ourselves. A Stalin like Metropolitan is now attempting to run the OCA, and we deserve what we have, because our Bishops voted three times to get the worst Bishop elected Metropolitan.
There will be no real news from this meeting, We will be hearing the same mumbo-jumbo.
Dear Mr. Youssef Rassam, thanks for your comments. Allow me to address just some of the comments that left me feeling that your article was very "Almost, But Not Quite."
The simple, Biblical logic of saying "amen" to a prayer -- anaphora or otherwise -- requires the congregation to know what is being prayed by the priest.
St. Paul rhetorically asks:
"if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say "Amen" at your eucharist since he does not know what you say?" (1 Cor. 14:16)
Here, the Apostle is discussing praying in a foreign language (tongue). If one cannot say "amen" to a prayer that is not understood, ought one say "amen" to a prayer that is inaudible?
Put another way: would you sign a contract that your priest or bishop told you to sign if he forbade you from reading it?
Also, you may think this overly Caesero-papist, but (East/Byzantine) Roman emperor, theologian, and Saint Justinian was not just some secular ruler attempting to exercise "authority over the Church's Liturgical life" -- as with the Only-begotten Son prayer, would you say? -- but was fighting a growing alteration to, and perceived abuse of, the liturgy.
And, finally, Dn. Nicholas Denysenko did not accuse His Grace, Bp. NICOLAI of "childish nostalgia," nor did he accuse him, as you imply, of being full of it. (Nostalgia, I mean.) In fact, the Reverend Deacon did not even mention Bp. NICOLAI in his post wherein he advised that we -- not anyone else, not anyone in particular -- "lay aside childish nostalgia."
Again, thanks for your post, "Almost, But Not Quite" though I found it.
#2 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2006-12-12 18:00
Mr. Pavuk's reflection adds a great deal of information to a subject that for me was rather murky--the character and background of Metropolitan Herman. While not surprised at the revelations, I am none-the-less shocked. All my worst suspicions and fears have now been confirmed with respect to his personality and pastoral approach. Lord have mercy!
I endorse in the strongest possible terms, Mr. Pavuk's call for a lay response that makes clear that the staus quo can not continue. Every means should be on the table as a way to effect change, i.e. financial, legal, personal confrontation and rebuke of the intransigent, etc. Our theologians need to devise the religious equivalent of civil disobedience in the face of clerical/heirarchical wrong doing. Perhaps shouting "Unworthy" in every appropriate venue would be a good start!
As for the two other reflections--kudos to Dr. Leon for seeing through to the heart of the matter, while for Mr. Rassam, the less said, the better. Doesn't get it, never will!
#3 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-12-12 19:23
Mr. Pavuk's family has created problems for the OCA since 1980 in the Pennsylvania Diocese. ... His family has deceived and taken over St. John's Russian Orthodox Church in Mayfield, PA and all the people in that Diocese have known the Metropolitian for many many years and do know what type of person he is. Mr. Pavuk's vendetta toward Metropolitian Herman comes from Mr. Thomas Pavuk's ex-communication by Metropolitian Herman. Do not let him deceive you by his family's history hatred of Metropolitian Herman and anyway he belongs to ROCOR and should not even be interferring with the OCA .
#4 withheld on 2006-12-13 12:56
Not one thing you have said refutes Mr. Pavuk's charges. The fact that he is now in ROCOR is irrelevant, at least to me. If you are going to attack his credibility and character, then have the decency to use your name.
I look forward to hearing from others on this subject.
#4.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-12-13 13:26
I agree completely! I may believe that there are two sides to every story, but, if "anonymous" is so certain of his/her "facts", then why hide? Ashamed?
#4.1.1 Alexander Ivsky on 2006-12-15 09:51
Reader Michael Pavuk is a kind and decent person. I cannot see how anyone could see him as anything else. Is it too much to ask that people treat each other with at least a semblence of Christian decency, or has the bile and bitterness soaked so deeply into your hearts?
The Patriarch of Holy Russia has every right to be interested in the see of North America, since by every canonical right he is the Master of that see. Autocephally is merely an administrative contrivence and not one of ultimate authority. It can be given and taken away as any economea, and thus those who lead the OCA would be well advised that the Patriarch IS paying attention to this whole affair and DOES have the authority to remedy if those in charge threaten to bring spiritual harm to the Church.
I cannot speak for the intentions of the anonymous poster, but I find it rather sad, that instead of answering the statement directly, they would instead mention injuries against the Pavuk family as a means to silence him.
His family was once part of the Metropolia (aka OCA) and left to join ROCOR, and is a strong foundation of thier parish community. ROCOR will be rejoining the Holy See of Russia as was always intended, and the Pavuks will be in their midst. Where are you, anonymous poster?
#4.2 Michael Sprong on 2006-12-19 19:53
It seems to me that Youssef Rassam is wrong in his conclusion that Justinian's Novella does not specifically reference the Anaphora. The exact words of Justinian were: “Moreover, we order all bishops and presbyters to say the prayers used in the the divine oblation and holy baptism not inaudibly, but in a voice that can be be heard by the faithful people, so that the souls of those who listen may be moved to greater compunction and raise up glorification to the Lord God”. What is the "divine oblation" if not including the Anaphora?
With respect to Justinian's authoritativeness, remember that he is a Saint of the Church, composed the Church hymn "Only-begotten Son and Word of God,'' (to combat Origenism) which has been sung during the Divine Liturgy since the year 536 and in the year 553, he convened the Fifth Ecumenical Council (Prologue from Ohrid).
Part of the Church's Hymn of Praise to St. Justinian is:
"Justinian, great and glorious, Knight of the Cross...In his wisdom, the wisest, in his might, the most powerful, and in his faith, the most faithful". (Prologue from Ohrid).
According to the OCA website: "The holy Emperor Justinian wished to have orderly rule and law within the realm. Under his guidance and supervision a complete compendium of Roman law was compiled. It has come down to us as a law codex known as "the Justinian Codex." The "Church laws" of Justinian are included in all the variants of the Russian collections of Canon Law".
It seems to me that St. Justinian is as authoritative as any of the Post-Nicene Fathers, not all of whom, by the way, were "clerics".
#5 Nick Katich on 2006-12-13 14:54
Firstly, Thank you to Kenneth Tobin for the unmerited honor. I really mean that.
You expressed the desire to hear from others about Mr. Pavuk’s contribution. I’m not sure why dredging up the calendar wars from the early 80’s is useful. Someone anonymously has provided a different perspective and whole different context, which you have chosen to disregard. I have to ask, do you like having your worst fears confirmed?
You addressed Tikhon Griffin about the silent anaphora as not getting the “big picture” about the attitude, which Bp. Nikolai may or may not have. It was as if, and correct me if I have misunderstood you, there might be good reasons for that decision, but one ought be sure those bishops don’t have them. If that is how you feel, how are you sure? Is some hierarch’s attitude really the “Big Picture”?
Finally, on a more recent thread, you have written that you will be graciously willing to forgive only if and when you see real repentance. While I fear you might hold out for “real Repentance” for every worst fear confirmed by rumor on this or other lists, I must say I was happy to see you extending that much charity, but Real Repentance
How will you know?
To Fr. Bartholomew and Nick Matich.
Please, I did not dismiss all of St. Justinian! I did not say anything about St. Justinian as a saint or theologian, nor even did I attack his “Symphonia” as Ceasero-Papist. I responded to Fr. Philip’s use of that law to say that the other side was “not in any wise acting according to the tradition. Rather, such a person is embracing an innovation explicitly condemned some 1500 years ago.” That novella clearly has not become the voice of the whole Church. We must be clear about these things, for instance, Nick, quoting the folk hymn of St. Nikolai Velimirovich as “the Church’s hymn” is rather extreme in the same way- to my knowledge his Prolog exists only in Serbian and English. Those folk hymns are not part of the whole Church’s Liturgical patrimony, (and probably won’t be – 14th Nov. is already packed with St. Philip and St. Gregory Palmas). To say this in no way disparages St. Nikolai Velimirovich, any more than to say St. Justinian’s novella is not a Church wide condemnation. I would certainly grant that St. Justinian, of all the emperors who convoked Ecumenical councils, (most of whom are saints), he was probably the most proficient in theology. I do not assert that he had to be a cleric to be a saint or patristic witness.
I did not conclude that the novella did not mean the Anaphora. I concluded that it might not. “The Oblation” might refer to the whole Liturgy. Scholars apparently debate it. Having read the article Fr. Philip refers to on the HTC website, I am more perplexed at his conclusion.
I did not mean to attempt a full thesis against the out loud Anaphora. I responded with Fr. Deacon Nicholas Denisenko to the misunderstandings of the past relationship of the Roman and Consantinopolitan usages, which, meaning no ill to the original bearer, amounted to Orthodox Urban legend.
Fr. Bartholomew, regarding Fr. Deacon Nicholas and childish nostalgia. I asserted nothing about Fr. Deacon Nicholas in this regard, I asked a question, if he knew that Bp. Nikolai was full of childish nostalgia. If we will speak of implication, just whose decision to enforce the received tradition about the Anaphora was under discussion, if not Bp. Nikolai’s? I felt that Fr. Deacon Nicholas implied rather more, that any one who holds the received tradition is at least likely to hold such nostalgia.
Fr. Bartholomew, can I assume, since you gave my post such a kind reading, that clearing up those matters, you at least will acknowledge that it is the bishop’s call, even if you think he’s wrong? Is that part of the “Almost”? After all, there is that “contract” that you of the reverend clergy got to see before you gave your amen to it, your oaths to not alter the Liturgy.
I don’t know Fr. David Brum, only seen him serve a couple times. Same goes for Fr. Bob, Fr. Deacon Eric, Abp. Job, Mark Stokoe, and pretty much Bp. Nikolai, or for that matter, you, your brother, and Dcn. Nicholas Denysenko. I didn’t know who Dianne Storheim was, some one had to tell me it was Bp. Seraphim’s sister. I was at Syosset only once in my life. I don’t know a thing personally much about the characters of any of the above. But I do know that this list is going way, way out, and getting worse. The spiritual maladies here revealed are not just in Syosset. Did you see an “OCA Theologian” and his call at the end of the Brum thread? Are you following these speculations, led on by our host, about the “real reasons” octogenarian Abp Dmitri wasn’t at the meeting? (As if by his absence he could prevent the Synod from disciplining Fr. Bob! If he is casting about on Fr. Bob’s behalf I should think he would show up all the more!) Fr. Bartholomew, are you one free man in the mid west who can join me in saying that, whatever good is also here, there are really unfair trends here? That rumor goes to supposition to belief to righteous indignation with frightening speed? Fr. David Brum is not just some ex papist - he’s a brother priest to you and fellow human being and Christian to all of us. Doesn’t anyone see that Abp. Job is likely to be a target now that he has to be in a position of making decisions when no decisions are ever good enough? That’s already starting! I see a whole lot that bodes ill for us as a Church, a body of Christians.
#6 Yousuf Rassam on 2006-12-15 04:38
Calender wars? More like Star Wars! You know, the Evil Empire versus the good guys. But who to cast as Darth Vader? There are so many candidates.
My point, of course, in requesting more information was to find out more about Metropolitan Herman and confirm or refute the portrait painted by Mr. Pavuk. That and only that. Instead, Mr. Pavuk has been subjected to abuse that does nothing to parry the charges he has laid at the feet of Metropolitan Herman.
I am truly stung by your charge that I am reluctant to forgive. So let the word go forth that I forgive everyone for everything they have ever done or ever will do to upset or injure me even if I don't know who they are or what they have done to merit forgiveness. Like cheap grace and unctuous piety this kind of forgiveness is not worth a puddle of spit.
#6.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-12-15 11:08
I won't address the concerns voiced by Mr. Rassam in the last paragraph of his post. I am, however, a bit perplexed as to the pertinence of the ongoing debate concerning the recitation of the anaphora. I have not had the opportunity to read Fr. Taft's now-published and available historical presentation of this issue in the new book published by SVS Press. Taft will surely provide us with a reliable and helpful paradigm.
Some liturgical prayers in our tradition are designed to be recited silently by the ceebrant. An example of this is the 'apologetic' prayer (Taft calls this the 'Nemo Dignus') said by the celebrant while the choir sings the troparion-Cherubikon. The language of this prayer clearly accentuates the cognizance of the celebrant's own unworthiness leading into a petition for mercy as he prepares to lead the people in offering the oblation. I don;t see how anyone could categorize the anaphora as an apologetic prayer of the priest. Both anaphoras we use - especially the one of St. Basil - recall God's work in saving humanity by alluding to and paraphrasing biblical events. This constitutes the Church's memory, not just the celebrants, and the entire prayer is structured (as someone aptly wrote earlier) as a dialogue. Apparently, St. Justinian - or perhaps someone in his confidence - recognized the silent recitation of this prayer as an abuse, and, following the customs of his milieu, he addressed the issue.
Obviously, this decision could not be permanently enforced, and, in all likelihood, the anaphora is recited silently in most Orthodox Churches of the world. I certainly hope that this trend will be reversed, for the reasons in the above paragraph. I am disturbed by the mindset that becomes preoccupied with establishing universal liturgical practices. Liturgical ractice has always been diverse in the Church's history, and we thus have the freedom to proclaim the Church's prayer aloud so the entire church can participate in the oblation. It would be abominable for this to become a source of schism or contention. I understand that the Church of Finland celebrates Pascha according to the Western calendar. Who has severed communion with them on account of this practice? Who would have the audacity to criticize them for doing what needs to be done to be the Chuch in Finland? Who will assume the role of bishop of Rome and castigate the Quartodecimans for celebrating Pascha according to their ancient apostolic tradition - even though it was different from the Roman practice? (Thank God for St. Irenaeus). Liturgical diversity is not equivalent to innovation or heresy - even a little prudent historical investigation makes this clear.
I am even more perplexed on the connection Mr. Rassam made between my comment on 'childish nostalgia' and His Grace, Bishop NIKOLAI. It seems to me that Mr. Rassam is the one who is making this implication. Just to set the record straight, that was not what I meant.
My brother and I took a class together at a midwestern university in the 90's, and were amused by Russian Area studies students passionately arguing the niceties of 'narodnaya volia.' Our amusement was mostly the result of the poor pronunciation, but we were both perplexed at the way non-Slavs seemed to attempt to be Slavs. This is my privilege, and also a cross, as a first-generation American, the son of immigrants from several regions of Ukraine. I left an authentically ethnic church because I was impressed with the mission and vision of the OCA. Yet I am amazed when I witness an unhealthy obsession with a historical epoch in Russia's or Byzantium's histories, to the extent that our ecclesial life today must model these patterns. In this context, 'childish nostalgia' refers to glorifying images, ideas, and practices we truly know little about because we haven't lived them. What in the world is wrong with being 'who we are'? North Americans who primarily speak English and worship God in the Orthodox Church? Surely our Orthodoxy is in communion with that of all the other Orthodox in the world - we do not have to look or sound exactly like them. If we do, for the sake of fulfilling our own nostalgic desires, aren't we compromising our mission to North America?
#6.2 Dn. Nicholas Denysenko on 2006-12-15 11:44
Dn. Nicholas, you are right on! My posting above 1.1 is a short version of what you say.
Let us all be AMERICAN, nothing more nothing less. Trying to be someone else landed us in thr predicament we are in today.
St. James, Brother of the Lord
Kansas City, MO
Dear Mr. Rassam,
"To Fr. Bartholomew and Nick Matich.
The Lord bless you from Zion! May you see the good things of Jerusalem all the days of your life!
I will bow out from addressing Rev. Dn. Nicholas Denysenko's comments and yours regarding his, as he has already posted about his previous post and your post. I will let your discussion stand without my further interjection, lest I breed further confusion.
You write: "...you at least will acknowledge that it is the bishop’s call, even if you think he’s wrong?"
Assuredly, a parish priest is under the authority of the one whose signature is on the antimens where he serves. (I could try to dispute this, but then, I could also find myself thereafter being addressed as "Mr. Bartholomew Wojcik," and that would be properly so for such insubordinate rebellion!) There is actually a great freedom for parish priests in this because, on the day of Judgment, the Lord will not hold us accountable for what we did to an entire diocese of His; that will be for the Bishops to answer. Obedience in liturgical matters (where there is no betrayal of the Faith/Tradition) is fundamental. I obey the bishop, but I also have the freedom in Christ to point out a flaw in one's (even a bishop's) reasoning when I (rightly or wrongly) perceive one.
And again, I will agree that all too often in our fallen condition, "rumor goes to supposition to belief to righteous indignation with frightening speed." I believe that Mark Twain said something to the effect that a rumor can travel half-way around the world before the truth has gotten its shoes on. I'm confident that there are many who would agree with your sentiment.
You write: Did you see an “OCA Theologian” and his call at the end of the Brum thread? Are you following these speculations, led on by our host, about the “real reasons” octogenarian Abp Dmitri wasn’t at the meeting?
Actually, I can usually only visit this site a few times a week, being a mission priest, working a side job and giving time to family and parish. (Speaking of which, I haven't started Christmas shopping yet. Thank God that I have a wife who is more wise and merciful than I am!) So, no, I didn't follow the Fr. David Brum thread very closely. And I'd heard that Abp. DIMITRI was sick.
Either way, I expect that both you and the multitude of others (probably with some exceptions) who have posted on this site -- with views leaning one way or the other -- have the glory of God and the edification of His flock and our own salvation at the heart of the various opinions expressed. Such arguments, when conducted charitably and with an honest conscience, can edify both sides, just as the Possessors and the Non-Possessors helped to produce saints.
And yes, part of the "Almost" and much of the "Thanks" was due to the good will that I detected in your writing. I did not feel that your post was aggressive, nor an attack, nor borne of ill will.
Thank you for your follow-up post, too. I appreciate the opportunity for clarification.
Fr. Bartholomew Wojcik
#6.3 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2006-12-15 17:07
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