Tuesday, March 17, 2015

MEMORY ETERNAL: Valentin Rasputin 1937-2015

Memory eternal
Вечная память
Vechnaya Pamyat'

A day short of his  seventy-eighth birthday on the Fourteenth of March, Valentin Rasputin passed from this life into the next.  A leading writer in the Village Prose movement of the 60's and 70's he gave a voice to the poorest of the poor in Soviet Russia.
Having read works by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Gogol early on,  Money for Maria was one of the first contemporary Russian works of fiction that I read and opened the door to Solzhenitsyn, Akunen as well as other more recent (Post Soviet) Russian writers.

Though I disagree with Rasputin's seemingly unquestioning political loyalty to  Vladimir Putin his early works were captivating and inspiring to me in my younger days.

May he rest in peace and may his memory be eternal.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Saint Gregory the Great

Saint Gregory the Great, Pope of Old Rome, Confessor.

The Hymn
This the Confessor of the Lord, whose triumph

Now through the wide world celebrate the faithful,
At his departure entered with rejoicing
Heavenly mansions.

Fervent and holy, prudent in his converse,

Humbly and chastely here on earth he sojourned,
Curbing all passions, and in peace and meekness,
Constant abiding.

What though the grave now hold his hallowed relicks?

He, ever living, ever interceding,
Reigns with the Blessed, nor from us his brethren
Is he divided.

Whence we in chorus gladly do him honour, 

Chanting his praises with devout affection,
That in his merits we may have our portion,
Ever and ever.

Glory and virtue, honour and salvation,

Be unto him that, sitting in the highest,
Governeth all things, Lord and God Almighty,
Trinity blessed.  Amen.

Gregory the Great was a Roman, the son of Gordian the Senator.  As a young man he studied philosophy, and afterwards discharged the office of Praetor.  After his father's death he built six monasteries in Sicily, and a seventh in honour of St. Andrew, in his own house at Rome, hard by the Church of Saints John and Paul at the ascent of the hill Scaurus.  In this monastery of St. Andrew, he and his masters, Hilarion and Maximian, professed themselves monks, and Gregory was afterwards Abbot.  Later on, he was created a Cardinal Deacon, and sent to Constantinople as legate from Pope Pelagius to the Emperor Tiberius Constantine.  Before the Emperor he so successfully disputed against the Patriarch Eutychius, who had denied that our bodies shall verily and indeed rise again, that the Prince threw the book of the said Patriarch into the fire.  Eutychius himself also soon after fell sick, and when he felt death coming on him, he took hold of the skin of his own hand said in in the hearing of many that stood by: I acknowledge that we shall all rise again in the flesh.

Gregory returned to Rome, and, Pelagius being dead of a plague, he was unanimously chosen Pope.  This honour he refused as long as he could.  He disguised himself and took refuge in a cave, but was betrayed by a fiery pillar.  Being discovered and overruled, he was consecrated at the grave of St. Peter.  He left behind him many ensamples of doctrine and holiness to them that have followed him in the Popedom.  Every day he brought pilgrims to his table, and among them he entertained not an Angel only, but the very Lord of Angels in the guise of a pilgrim.  He tenderly cared for the poor, of whom he kept a list, as well without as within the city.  He restored the Catholic faith in many places where it had been overthrown.  He fought successfully against the Donatists in Africa and the Arians in Spain.  He cleansed Alexandria of the Agnoites.  He refused to give the Pall to Syagrius, Bishop of Autun, unless he would expel the Neophyte heretics from Gaul.  He caused the Goths to abandon the Arian heresy.  He sent into Britain Augustine and divers other learned and holy monks, who brought the inhabitants of that island to believe in Jesus Christ.  Hence Gregory is justly called by Bede, the Priest of Jarrow, the Apostle of England.  He rebuked the presumption of John, Patriarch of Constantinople, who had taken to himself the title of Bishop of the Universal Church, and he dissuaded the Emperor Maurice from forbidding soldiers to become monks.

Gregory adorned the Church with holy customs and laws.  He called together a Synod in the Church of St. Peter, and therein ordained many things; among others, the ninefold repetition of the words Kyrie eleison in the Mass, the saying of the word Alleluia in the Church service except between Septuagesima inclusive and Easter exclusive, and the addition to the Canon of the Mass of the words: Do thou order all our days in thy peace.  He increased the Litanies, the number of the Churches where is held the observance called a Station, and the length of the Church Service.  He would that the four Councils of Nice, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon should be honoured like four Gospels.  He released the Sicilian Bishop from visiting Rome every three years, willing them to come instead once every five years.  He was the author of many books, and Peter the Deacon declareth that he often saw the Holy Ghost on his head in the form of a dove when he was dictating them.  It is a marvel how much he spake, did, wrote, and legislated, suffering all the while from a weak and sickly body.  He worked many miracles.  At last God called him away to be blessed for ever in heaven, in the thirteenth year, sixth month, and tenth day of his Pontificate, being the 12th day of March.  This day is observed by the Greeks, as well as by the Western Church, as a festival, on account of the eminent wisdom and holiness of this Pope.  His body was buried in the Church of St. Peter, hard by the Private Chapel.

R.  This is he who wrought mighty deeds and valiant in the sight of God, and all the earth is filled with his doctrine: * May his intercession avail for the sins of all the people.
V.  He was a man who despised the life of the world and attained unto the kingdom of heaven.
R.  May his intercession avail for the sins of all the people.
V.  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R.  May his intercession avail for the sins of all the people.

O God, who on the soul of thy servant Gregory didst bestow the rewards of everlasting felicity: mercifully grant; that we, which are sore oppressed by the burden of our sins, may by the succour of his intercession be relieved. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord.  Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

LENTEN THOUGHTS: Beginning The Journey of Renewal

Nothing overly deep as Lent begins. I have been reflecting on two pieces in particular.  Not from Orthodox sources, but certainly seeds for reflection in the light of the ancient faith.

The first, and more positive of the two pieces is the "conversion poem" Ash-Wednesday written by T.S. Elliot shortly after he converted to Anglican Christianity in 1927 and later published in 1930.  Very clearly relates the struggle of conversion of one who previously lacked faith.  I think we all wrestle with our faith from time to time.  I know that my own journey is occasionally an argument of faith verses reason. 


by T S Eliot

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.


Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree
In the cool of the day, having fed to satiety
On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been contained
In the hollow round of my skull. And God said
Shall these bones live? shall these
Bones live? And that which had been contained
In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping:
Because of the goodness of this Lady
And because of her loveliness, and because
She honours the Virgin in meditation,
We shine with brightness. And I who am here dissembled
Proffer my deeds to oblivion, and my love
To the posterity of the desert and the fruit of the gourd.
It is this which recovers
My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions
Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn
In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.
Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
And would be forgotten, so I would forget
Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
The wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping
With the burden of the grasshopper, saying

Lady of silences
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
Worried reposeful
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Terminate torment
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
End of the endless
Journey to no end
Conclusion of all that
Is inconclusible
Speech without word and
Word of no speech
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.

Under a juniper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining
We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each other,
Under a tree in the cool of the day, with the blessing of sand,
Forgetting themselves and each other, united
In the quiet of the desert. This is the land which ye
Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity
Matters. This is the land. We have our inheritance.


At the first turning of the second stair
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitul face of hope and of despair.

At the second turning of the second stair
I left them twisting, turning below;
There were no more faces and the stair was dark,
Damp, jagged, like an old man's mouth drivelling, beyond repair,
Or the toothed gullet of an aged shark.

At the first turning of the third stair
Was a slotted window bellied like the figs's fruit
And beyond the hawthorn blossom and a pasture scene
The broadbacked figure drest in blue and green
Enchanted the maytime with an antique flute.
Blown hair is sweet, brown hair over the mouth blown,
Lilac and brown hair;
Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind over the third stair,
Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair
Climbing the third stair.

Lord, I am not worthy
Lord, I am not worthy
but speak the word only.


Who walked between the violet and the violet
Who walked between
The various ranks of varied green
Going in white and blue, in Mary's colour,
Talking of trivial things
In ignorance and knowledge of eternal dolour
Who moved among the others as they walked,
Who then made strong the fountains and made fresh the springs

Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand
In blue of larkspur, blue of Mary's colour,
Sovegna vos

Here are the years that walk between, bearing
Away the fiddles and the flutes, restoring
One who moves in the time between sleep and waking, wearing

White light folded, sheathing about her, folded.
The new years walk, restoring
Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem
The time. Redeem
The unread vision in the higher dream
While jewelled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse.

The silent sister veiled in white and blue
Between the yews, behind the garden god,
Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but spoke no word

But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down
Redeem the time, redeem the dream
The token of the word unheard, unspoken

Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew
And after this our exile


If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee.
Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice

Will the veiled sister pray for
Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,
Those who are torn on the horn between season and season, time and time, between
Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait
In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray
For children at the gate
Who will not go away and cannot pray:
Pray for those who chose and oppose

O my people, what have I done unto thee.
Will the veiled sister between the slender
Yew trees pray for those who offend her
And are terrified and cannot surrender
And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks
In the last desert before the last blue rocks
The desert in the garden the garden in the desert
Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.

O my people.


Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth This is the time of tension between dying and birth The place of solitude where three dreams cross Between blue rocks But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.   (source)

The second piece is a quote from Dorothy Day, a convert to Roman Catholicism, addressing the issue of clergy, faith and spiritual life.  I "know how she feels.."  sometimes and best leave it at that. 

“As a convert, I never expected much of the bishops. In all history popes and bishops and father abbots seem to have been blind and power-loving and greedy. I never expected leadership from them. It is the saints that keep appearing all through history who keep things going. What I do expect is the bread of life [the eucharist] and down through the ages there is that continuity.”

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Tuesday, January 06, 2015


The kings of Tharsis and of the isles shall give presents; the kings of Arabia and Saba shall bring gifts.  And all the kings of the earth shall worship him; all nations shall do him service.

O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles: mercifully grant, that we, which know thee now by faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead.  Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who  lives and reigns with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

Arise and shine, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come,   And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

Sermon of Pope Saint Leo on Epiphany

Dearly beloved, rejoice in the Lord; and again I say, rejoice.  Only a few days are past since the Solemnity of Christ's Nativity, and now the glorious light of the Epiphany is breaking upon us.  On that day the Virgin brought him forth, and on this he was made known to the world.  For the Word-made-Flesh was pleased to reveal himself by degrees to those unto whom he had come.  When Jesus was born, he was first manifested to the believing, but hidden from his enemies.  However, the heavens declared the glory of God and their sound went out into all lands, namely, when the herald-Angels appeared to tell the shepherds the glad tidings of a Saviour's birth.  And now the guiding star leadeth the Wise Men to worship him, that from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down thereof, the birth of the true King may be known abroad; that through those Wise Men the kingdoms of the East might learn the great truth, and the Roman empire remain no more in darkness.

The very cruelty of Herod, when he strove to put an end to the new-born King whom he feared, was made an unwitting means to further this new dispensation of mercy.  For the tyrant was so intent on his horrid crime of slaying the little Child, that he did not perceive how his indiscriminate slaughter of the Innocents would serve to spread wider abroad the story of a new-born Babe whose birth as a great ruler had been announced from heaven.  Thus were these glad tidings loudly proclaimed, both by the novelty of their story, and the iniquity of their enemies.  Moreover, the Saviour was carried into Egypt.  And thereby that nation, so long hardened in idolatry, was (by the mysterious virtue which went forth from Christ, even when his presence was unknown) prepared for the saving light so soon to dawn upon them; if so be, they might receive the Truth as a wanderer even before they had banished falsehood.

Dearly beloved, we recognize in these Wise Men, who came to worship Christ, the first-fruits of that dispensation to the Gentiles wherein we also are called and enlightened.  Let us then keep this Feast with grateful hearts, in thanksgiving for our blessed hope, the dawn of which we do commemorate on this day.  From the worship paid to the new-born Christ is to be dated the entry of us Gentiles upon our heirship of God and joint-heirship with Christ.  Since that joyful day the Scriptures which testify of Christ have lain open for us as well as for the Jews.  Whose blindness rejected that Truth which, since that day, hath shed his bright beams upon all nations.  Let us then honour this most sacred day, whereon the Author of our salvation was made manifest. As the Wise Men fell down and worshipped him in the manger, so let us fall down and worship him, enthroned omnipotent in heaven.  As they opened their treasures and presented unto him mystic and symbolic gifts, so let us strive to open our hearts to him, and offer him from thence some worthy offering.

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Friday, December 26, 2014


Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that He Who was this day born to save the world and give us second birth, may also bestow upon us the gift of immortality. Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, One God, world without end.
R:       Amen.
We beseech Thee O Lord, that as  by the new birth of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, the old man hath been put away from us: So by this Holy Communion we may ever go forward in newness of life.  Through the same Jesus Christ, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, One God, world without end.
R:       Amen.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord our God,  that we who do joyfully keep the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ, may walk so worthily here in earth, that we may dwell with Him in life everlasting. Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, One God, world without end.
R:       Amen.

 Canticle of Isaiah (Isaiah 49:13, 9:6, 25:9, 12:3-6)
Sing for joy, O heavens,
and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!

For a child has been born for us,
a song given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders.

And he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Sing for joy, O heavens,
and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!

This is our God;
we have waited for him,
so that he might save us.

This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

With joy let us draw water
from the wells of salvation.

Give thanks to the Lord,
call on this name;
make known his deeds among the nations.

Sing praises to the Lord,
for he has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth
Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion.

For great in your midst is the
Holy One of Israel

Praise to you, O Son of God, hidden Child.
You chose to reveal yourself through a humble virgin, and you filled creation with your sweet fragrance.  On this glorious day we now offer you the sweet fragrance of our incense.

Make our worship holy and pleasing.
Grant that we may stand at your right side, and with the faithful departed, on the day of your coming. And we will glorify you, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit unto the ages of ages.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Cast of Season One of The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns. Photo from Lifetime

My wife and I started watching Lifetime Television's The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns, this afternoon. It was interesting. She says she enjoyed it, and is up to watching the rest of the season.  I'm not so sure.  I will give the second episode a chance and then make my decision. 

Both men and women who think about entering religious life, the convent or monastery, often have preconceived notions, even fantasized ideas as to what religious life entails. I certainly did as a younger man.  The young women in this television series certainly did as well.

Left to right, Dominic-Martin, Jean-Joseph
August 1995, first vows
I've lived in two monastic communities prior to getting married.  (Hence the blog name: The Married Monk, in addition to still having much of a monastic spirit)  There is much about community that I found very positive for me.  The schedule or prayer, work and study.  Religious camaraderie of in the community, a strong brotherhood (Two of my monastic brothers, who also left the community are clergymen I had the privilege to ordain in the diocese I am blessed to serve.)  Paternal and Fraternal guidance from the superior and more experienced monastics as various challenges present themselves in the spiritual struggle.  While it is different for each person, many of the opportunities for growth (aka problems) have been overcome by monastics before us over many centuries.  

This collected wisdom is seen expressed by a couple of the Sisters in the first episode.  I expect as time goes on, we will see some more of it. At least I hope we will, as it is essential the the discernment and formation process. 

There are already critics of the show.  Former nun Katy Laffond has expressed her doubts, yet, like myself is withholding judgement based on the some of the positive aspects of the first episode.  Her analysis seems pretty fair. A google search will bring up other critics as well.  Many take issue just because the show is related to the Roman Catholic Church. 

Check it out here if you're interested. 

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014


May we always remember and remain thankful for the service and sacrifice of those who serve.

We are thankful and we remember.
Thankful to all who have served, sacrificed and survived.
We remember those who have given their lives.
It's not about politics or pacifism.
I know of no soldier who who loves war and hates peace.
We pause and remember all those who have served and sacrificed.
We pause and remember in prayer those who gave their lives for our country, or more recently, for those of another country, in the hope that they might one day experience democracy and freedom.


    O Almighty and most merciful God, of thy bountiful goodness keep them, we beseech thee, from all things that may hurt them; that, being ready both in body and soul, they may cheerfully accomplish those things which thou commandest; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    We beseech thee, Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of thy humble servants, in service to their country, and stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty, to be their defense against all their enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

*Modified (italics) from the Prayerbook for Soldiers and Sailors.