Christmas Service Groupies

familyJPGIt happens to us every year as we approach the eve of December 25th. A certain Christmas euphoria overtakes the family, and we simply cannot resist gorging ourselves on the rich liturgical offerings of so many Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches. Since we celebrate Orthodox Nativity on the Old Calendar (January 7), this affords us the opportunity to visit other churches on one of the holiest Christian holidays of the year. And I cannot think of a single holiday on the Western liturgical cycle in which services are offered throughout the entire evening, even as late as 10:00pm! Continue reading

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Pray More, Shop Less

Lessons and Carols at King’s College, Cambridge

Friday, November 15/28
First Day of the Nativity Fast
Commencement of Advent in the Orthodox Church
For the rest of the country,
Black Friday

I refuse to add to the growing litany of bloggers who want to end the atrocities of our over-driven consumerist culture. While I mostly agree with their criticisms, I don’t think it works to curse the darkness without lighting a candle. And the candle of prayer that I wish to light on this commencement of Holy Advent is a plug for a very potent service of prayer. Continue reading

Each Hearing in His Own Native Tongue

August 6, Repose of John Mason Neale (1818-1866)

The miracle of Pentecost is one which I think we take for granted in this age of google translate. That each of those diverse peoples present at the coming of the Divine Spirit could hear the good news proclaimed in his own native language is not only astonishing, but a source of great comfort.

In our own time and historical circumstance, we can be grateful for many reliable and storied translations of the Scriptures in our mother tongue of English. Indeed the King James Bible, for example, which recently celebrated its 400th anniversary, is not only a reliable translation of the original text but an inspiration for countless works of English literature.

So much is well and good for the Scriptures in English. But what of other important modes for divine communion? What of the Divine Services, especially the ancient Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great which form the setting for the jewel of the Scriptures in the Eastern Orthodox Church? For us Orthodox Christians in English-speaking countries, we have the Anglicans of the nineteenth century to thank, especially the Rev. John Mason Neale. Continue reading