Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Eastern Church Five Years On, Part II: Meeting the Fathers

My Jesuit school with the new Pedro Arrupe annex. I do not recommend.
Until 2012 my religious education consisted of eight years at an excellent parochial school, four years at a Jesuit high school, and four reactionary years attempting to deprogram what that last experience. A Jesuit philosophy teacher taught us Christ’s social doctrine attracted our attention more powerfully than the Resurrection; similarly, a textbook utilized during our senior year, Justice and Peace, intimated that William Jefferson Clinton’s welfare state policies reflected a perfect implementation of post-Vatican II Christian outreach.

What makes the Bodlein so conducive to
Thomistic reading?
During the summer before the final year of high school I thought it worthwhile to peruse the greater religious works of Western culture and so I acquired a set of St. Augustine’s major writings, namely Confessions and City of God, which I read in succession. Like any sensible school boy, the working of things attracted me more than socialist philosophy, and I read the Doctor’s work only to remember that he articulated General Relativity in writing fifteen centuries before Einstein articulated the same truth formulaically. In college I borrowed a set of the Summa from the Theology library at Oxford to read scattered articles in my occasional boredom betwixt terms with no particular direction in reading. I was Edward Waverly, a dilettante in theology who knew just enough bits and bobs to cause trouble for myself.

In the basement of the Melkite parish the priest maintained a lending library of beaten up copies of books. Some covered the history of the patriarchate of Antioch; others were written by contemporary Orthodox academics, among them Hopko, Schmemann, Meyendorff, and Florovsky. And then there were thin volumes ascribed to names I had scantly heard before: Gregory of Nyssa, Polycarp, Vincent, Cyprian, Isaac the Syrian, and the odd work by Chrysostom. I took On the Soul and the Resurrection by St. Gregory of Nyssa, the smallest of the small books and the quickest read, I hoped. I half expected On the Soul to read like either a modern polemical work, a kinder version of Ann Coulter’s vague screed, or something of a philosophy book where Jesus replaces ideology. Neither On the Soul nor any other work I read fell under these narrow taxonomies.

One year of reading concluded with two impressions: that the Fathers spoke wrote with focus about truths of Christ and that they took much for granted that I took as development. No Father saw himself as the propagator of a “school” of theology or ideological take on matters of Christology. These men, mostly bishops, spoke and wrote with the authority of men who purported to know about God and who possessed the authority in their voices to make others hew to their doctrines.

Each had a perspective—be it Greek philosophical language, the Latin legal language, or Alexandrian popular philosophy—that modern scholars expurgate into a systemic thought absent in the minds of the original writers. These men used the tools and perspectives at their disposal to defend Christ in their times and pass on these plain truths for posterity. St. John of Damascus spoke in legal distinctions familiar to him as a minister of state for the Umayyad caliphate, breaking types of devotion to icons into categories based both on intention and the extent of the devotion. Moreover, without delving into Platonism, he connected the “image” of the icon with its prototype so intricately that he supposed to refuse the veneration of holy images was a refusal of the Incarnation itself. St. John connected representations of Jesus, of His miracles, and of the Saints with the very coming of God to earth to effect our redemption from sin. The Damascene saint’s work came to fruition when the holy images returned to Hagia Sophia on the “Sunday of Orthodoxy”; the Church met in a general council to bless the veneration of icons and condemn those who, in principle, refuse to do so.

For all their words the Church Fathers preached doctrine in a sparse, dogmatic way that modern ears might find unappealing, but which reified confusing concepts in an uncertain time. They were dogmatic in the truest sense of the word, dogma itself being a Greek word for a “little truth”. It was this “dogmatic” kind of teaching that permeated the best Councils in the Church’s history: Nicaea I and IV, Lateran IV, and Trent. Some of the worst councils—Constance, Vatican II—have little dogmatic value and are simply loquacious for their own sake. In the preaching of these “little truths” the Church has been strong in pronouncing narrow points, leaving the actual explication of these doctrines to the bishops themselves. The origin of the word “definition” may well be de finis, meaning “concerning limits”; ends were placed on what could be said, but limits were not placed on how much could be said of these “little truths”. Most late Patristic and medieval theology did little more than elaborate at length on what the Fathers and Councils bound all true Christians to believe.

While the Cappadocian Fathers and the Apostolic Father enumerated various teachings on the Divinity of Christ, on the title of the Theotokos, on holy images, they also spoke of many points of Church teaching that contemporary historians would have us believe to be medieval “developments”. In short, the Fathers did not elucidate a long doctrine for Apostolic succession precisely because every Christian—Catholic, monophysite, gnostic—already believed in it. No doctrine disputed by the Reformers is more arrant in ancient writings than the necessity of regenerative Baptism for salvation and its accompanying incorporation of the neophyte into the new creation that is the Church. The fourth and fifth century Fathers are perhaps less helpful in tracing teachings owing to the polemical nature of their work, but in the third century St. Cyprian of Carthage already used the terms “Trinity”, “Catholic Church”, “subdiaconate”, he spoke of Jesus Christ as “God”, and he ruled his flock in union with his council of presbyters. While these are impressive testaments to the antiquity of the Church, St. Irenaeus brought me much further.

Why believe? If viewed in a vacuum, as if the results of a priori inductions, the claims of the Church are certainly absurd. Slightly more helpful is that two-pronged “Scripture and Tradition” approach in vogue in the last half century, as though the Church is a Bible church with something called “Tradition” tacked on. What if we believed in Christ because we believed the people who told us of Christ? This was certainly the case of St. Irenaeus of Lyon, who at a young age knew St. Polycarp, who is turn knew either St. John the Apostle or St. John the Presbyter. What Polycarp recounted of St. John’s teachings enamored Irenaeus and ignited a burning industry in him that persisted until his death in 202AD. In his On the Apostolic Preaching Irenaeus speaks as a witness to Christ who knew something personally about Jesus rather than as one quoting books. He provided proofs that Our Lord was indeed the awaited Messiah by exegeting the stories and prophecies of the Old Testament, treating them as narratives with a point, not one-liners requiring an answer. If he quotes the New Testament, he does not seem to do so intentional, occasionally stumbling on a phrase from the Gospels—both Synoptic and Johannine—and the odd Pauline epistle. He taught not about Christ, he in fact taught Christ. He, in St. Paul’s words, “passed on what he received.”

This epiphany rent apart a veil that had covered my eyes since elementary school, when our religion teacher taught us that “tradition” was a collection of habits, customs, and legends. In fact tradition, properly understood as the passing on of something from one person to another, is the principle manner of the transmission of the faith. And to be a Catholic, one must hold the same faith with the same sense, the same outlook, and same instinct as those before. This need not mean aesthetics, devotions, and such, but it certainly means the underlying foundation of our praxis must be the same as that of those who came before us, both a generation ago and a millennium ago.

What this revelation did not mean was that we should arbitrarily revive customs or language that have been long dormant into a foreign, modern setting, almost always with a hidden mind toward novel ideas. That does not forbid miniature renaissances wherein we learn from the past, much like the Tractarian and Ritual Movements in Oxford reinvigorated Patristic study and sent numerous Anglicans to the Church. What is does mean is that the Tractarian Movement’s continental counterpart, the ressourcement, erred grievously in marrying the nouvelle théologie, telling unarmed people that what they held dear was all wrong, and leaving them to rot in the agnostic agony of the mid-twentieth century.

At the end of my exploratory reading I finally found that line of St. Vincent of Lerins, now repeated to the point of banality, but once quite profound in the eyes of a Patristic neophyte. We must hold nothing more or less than what was held “everywhere, always, and by everyone.” Anything else was not passed on to us.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Ton Despotin! Pontifical Liturgy!

The newly enthroned bishop for the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy Chicago, Venedykt (Benedict) Aleksiychuk, visited our parish to consecrate the new altar and make a pastoral visit that his predecessor, Richard Seminack of blessed memory, had been unable to make during his final years.

The visit began with Pontifical Great Vespers on Saturday night, possibly a first in the history of our tiny parish. The rites for greeting a bishop were observed in full.

A piano stool had to do as a throne, given the parish's modest resources.

After Vespers, with Litya, we had light refreshments and some time with the bishop. Although he asked a priest to translate for him during the sermons at Vespers and the Divine Liturgy, he English was in fact quite good conversationally. He spent some time with The Rad Trad and some friends who had tagged along for the rites.

On Sunday we had a proper hierarchical Divine Liturgy and the consecration of an altar. Liturgy began with the rite of vesting before the altar, as a bishop does in the Roman rite at Pontifical Mass from the Throne. It underscores that the office of serving at the altar and all its accompanying duties truly belong to and descend from the bishop, not the priest.

The washing of the altar with water, wine, and rose water.

And someone will have to clean the wax off the floor later. His grace gives the triple episcopal blessing during the Trisagion.

And the Divine Liturgy concludes with the anointing with oil blessed during Litya at Great Vespers the prior evening.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Brotherly Correction

The recent publication of the Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis of 40 scholars and clergy to P. Francis, originally presented to the pontiff early last month, is causing some minor waves in Catholic society. While this correction produces indisputable evidence of material error issuing forth from the current pontificate, the response from the pope and his entourage is likely to be similar to that given to the steady stream of corrections, appeals, and dubia thus far: dismissive mockery followed by silence.

Still, responses of this sort—explicit, thorough, and precise—are necessary and helpful in other ways. They are helpful for the multitude of lay Catholics who remain confused and hurt by the pope's apparent madness, and feel timid or impious at the thought of making their concerns heard. They are helpful also for those who have steadfastly ignored all but the most benign words coming from Rome, since the most essential Franciscan errors are now very helpfully collected, summarized, and explained. Willfully ignorant Catholics are prodded to pull their heads out of the dirt and pay attention to reality. The signatories do not allow the Holy Father to get away with his careless words spoken in interviews, nor with his silence in response to the "implementations" of episcopal conferences.

That this correctio is being published during the quincentenary of Fr. Luther's revolution is not lost on its authors. There is a rather extensive section on "The Influence of Martin Luther" in the document (p. 12f), and it is worth nearly as much consideration as the marriage-related material.

Pray for the signatories. Pray for the pope. Only truth and repentance will heal these wounds. "For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Being Sure

A younger generation of Catholics have become attached to various particular aspects of the Church in a way that prior ages would have found curious. The "JP2 generation" admired the Polish pontiff's life and morality teachings; an educated, hipster-esque demographic have assigned themselves to the so-called "EF" (whatever that is) and artful celebrations of the Pacelli-Montini rite; perhaps a slightly older, but relatively youthful, group of proto-Libertarian Americans have found solace in the social teachings of Leo XIII and Pius XI of happy memory. And it all begs the question, why? Is there something wrong with these "rigid" neo-Pelagian people or is something else at play?

Years ago the then-pastor of the FSSP parish in Roma and liturgical restorationist, Joseph Kramer, observed that the rebels immediately responsible for the Church's current state of affairs were reared under "super discipline", their parents having grown up during the Great Depression and two World Wars. Post-modern youths live under antipodal circumstance and seek greater direction in the practice of faith.

That discipline and direction once upon a time came from Catholic culture prevalent in ethnic communities in America and in the village life back in the "old world." It was devotions, catechism, family customs, patron saints, Blessed Sacrament processions, the romanticism of the Mass, and so on. All of that is gone, or near gone, in most parishes; where it exists it has been recrafted, not continued from previous times. Bereft of these cradle-Catholic inheritances and living in a secularized society, Catholics understandably latch on to the firmer things that make sense to them, older things with clear continuity to the past, things that possess a gravitas that assures one that the object of interest carries a greater weight than the one engaging it. No one you know may care about the significance of additional ministers at Pontifical Mass or Rerum Novarum, but for many years faithful Catholics did, and in caring one can normalize one's interests in their company.

Converts felt a similar struggle a century ago. Louis Bouyer, who came to the Church from French Lutheranism, was drawn to the Church by study of the Fathers and the Roman liturgy only to be told by cradle co-religionists that "real Catholics don't care about that sort of thing." Bouyer buried himself in the Scriptures and the liturgy, which directed him to the Church through the ancient Fathers, knowing that these artifices did not belong to a vague Christianity, but were in fact proper to the Church, irrespective of others' disinterest in that fact. John Henry Newman had a similar struggle upon entering the Church and leaving his prestigious position as a don at Oriel for the religion of the Irish. 

These aren't necessarily unhealthy trends on their own; the Apostolic Fathers possessed no Catholic culture, nor a Jewish one after the failed revolt of Simon bar Kokhba. They lived merely on the certainty of what the Apostles and their immediate students told them. But what of the muddled middle who do not seek out special interests? Culture once fortified their hewing to the Church, but without it they wane....

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Triggered by Trads

Karl Keating's dislike for Latin-loving traditionalists is well known. He formed his cadre of apologists at Catholic Answers according to his own preferences during his long tenure as president. In his retirement he has published a full-length book about the imminent danger posed by geocentrists and many smaller collections of essays on apologetics and hiking. While his public Facebook page has been filled mostly with thoughts on hiking and self-publishing, most recently he could not help himself from dancing on the fresh graves of a few traddy friendships:
Louis Verrecchio, who once made a living explaining and defending Vatican II at parishes around the country, now decries the council, calling it heretical, and thinks the current pontiff and his immediate predecessors have been heretics. 
But he finds heretics elsewhere, too, such as in the Fatima movement. He says the Fatima Center, which was headed by the late Fr. Nicholas Gruner, has gone off the rails since Gruner's 2015 death. It has betrayed Verrecchio's understanding of the Fatima message. 
As a result, he has castigated the group and in return has been criticized by its supporters, such as Christopher Ferrara, a long-time associate of Gruner. In a post at the Fatima Center's website, Ferrara faulted the group's opponents without naming Verrecchio, though it was clear he had Verrecchio in mind. (He referred to "a grandstanding Catholic blogger.") 
In turn, Verrecchio has responded, saying that, under Gruner, the Fatima Center never would have had nice things to say about a "celebrity cardinal"--a reference to Cardinal Raymond Burke. And so on....
[F]issionble material keeps fissioning. Uranium 238, when it's done fissioning, ends up as lead. That may be a trope for what's happening among a good chunk of the Traditionalist movement. 
The unchristian glee Keating takes in the fallout of friendships among fringe figures is especially aggravating considering the fission among Catholics "in good standing" that he spent his career sweeping under the rug. The man who could never find anything negative worth saying about Cdl. Mahoney's reign of bad taste and bad doctrine never found himself short of words against doctrinally sound if intemperate traditionalists.

Today's Catholic Answers radio show regularly tackles tough, troubling questions like "Why do nuns but not priests take vows of poverty?", "Is it really a sin to vote in favor of homosexual marriage?", and "Why do Catholics pray to saints?" His apologists condemn the iconoclasm of mobs attacking statues of St. Joan, but never the iconoclasm practiced by the clergy. Mediocrity with a sheen of intellectual pretension is Keating's major legacy to American Catholic apologetics; swiftness to wrath against trads his minor legacy. I am convinced this man has done more damage to the traditionalist movement in America than many bishops combined:

In many ways he reminds me of E. Michael Jones, a man who prides himself on properly interpreting arcane aspects of canon law concerning the criticism of bishops while loudly slandering and defaming everyone else in sight. Karl similarly is very intelligent about a small set of outdated apologetics and extremely modern ecclesiastical legislation, while lacking a broader wisdom about the life of the Church as a whole. He is a more learned version of Mark Shea, who once had his feelings hurt by trads long ago and, just like a good Christian, never forgave and forgot.

What future is there for Catholic apologetics? If it is to pull itself out of the depths of irrelevance, it must engage with the more urgent questions of the age. I agree with Dr. Edward Feser that atheism and insufficient philosophies of being are some of the greatest threats to the Faith, but one cannot expect niche-burrowers like Keating or intellectual lightweights like his apprentices to bother engaging with these in any tangible way. Total faithlessness is on the rise, and who will stand against it? Much easier to shoot the easy targets of Protestants and Trads than to mount a defense against a real menace.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Great Blight

As far back as the 1600s winemakers were trying unsuccessfully to transplant European grape varieties to North America. For reasons unknown at the time these grapes would never grow in American soil, so they settled for cultivating local varieties and occasionally grafting European grapes onto American rootstock.

In the mid-1800s American vines were being transported to France to be grown there, and by the 1860s local vineyards were being obliterated by blight. Vines in the midst of a vineyard turned yellow and red, with the few grapes being produced yielding little good taste. The blight would spread quickly outward, with entire vineyards mysteriously drying up over a few years.

It turned out that the European rootstocks were unable to take root in American soil because of an aggressive species of aphid that European vines had not developed an immunity towards, and the newer transportation by steamboat finally allowed these aphids to survive the journey across the ocean. Once discovered, the reaction was swift but tardy. Insecticides proved slow to work, and many vintners turned in desperation to the aphid-resistant American rootstock.

The Great French Wine Blight was well under way. Over the course of 15 years about 40% of vineyards were affected, the French economy was shaken, workers in the wine industry had their pay cut in half, and many migrated to America. Because wine production dropped so precipitously, the French turned to another source of alcohol from Switzerland to whet their palettes—absinthe.

Pre-Blight wine quickly became a collector's item, and today only a few untouched vines remain. Although mocked as "Americanists" by the diminishing purist population, vintners found success by grafting the local vinifera onto the aphid-resistant American roots. This was dubbed "reconstitution" and hailed as a victory. Still, many claim that the robust flavors of pre-Blight wine were never again reproducible.

The public's taste had been greatly diminished due to their consumption of wormwood, leaving wine at least for a time to the connoisseurs. Wine makers joined the fight against the spread of absinthe, and the green devil was blamed for an increase in violence and general drunkenness. Jean Lanfray, a Swiss farmer, murdered his family in 1905 while presumably under the influence of absinthe. Many countries banned the drink, including Switzerland, France, and the United States. Only the Great War stopped the bans from increasing.

Today Americans can be found patting themselves on the back for saving the French wine industry with our rootstocks, completely forgetting the problem originated with us.

There is more than one way to devastate a vineyard, and sometimes it never recovers.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Last Gospel: Participatio Actuosa?

Do you have a ministry in your parish? I vividly recall during freshmen week in college the campus chaplaincy would advertise the various "ministries" available to students: reading, Eucharistic ministering, making sick visits, "singing", usher jobs, and hospitality. To the priest were reserved the words "This is my body", "I baptize you", and "I absolve you"; otherwise, it was open season on liturgical roles in this protracted state of infancy.

What if I told you that there were ways that the faithful informed the practice of the Latin liturgy without clericalizing themselves and laicizing the clerics? What if I told you that England was once an exemplar of participatio actuosa in the Mass? What if I told you that the priest's private devotion at the end of Mass was also, in many cases, the congregation's public devotion?

The medieval Roman liturgy and its local variations almost always concluded with the so-called Last Gospel, the first fourteen verses of the Johannine prologue. A 1474 printing of the Roman Missal in my possession makes no mention of it. The Dominicans did not add it until after Trent. And the last public words in the Sarum Mass were In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritu Sancti. Amen. Yet, the Last Gospel was near ubiquitous as a private devotion before the Council of Trent. The celebrant would recite In principio erat Verbum until plenum gratiae et veritatis quietly on his way back to the vestry. The neo-Gallican rites retained this for high Mass, although they generally followed the Tridentine arrangement of low Mass. The Roman rite continued the medieval custom for Pontifical Mass and Quintin Montgomery-Wright retained it at Le Chamblac. So, how was the clerical devotion an act of lay participation?

Prior to modern printing people did not "know the Bible", but through sermons, catechesis (as far as it was available outside cathedral cities), stained glass, and mystery plays commoners could certainly be expected to know the main stories from the Old and New Testaments that the Scriptures record. The faithful often asked for particular passages to be read at the end of Masses celebrated for their specific intentions, believing that, aside from any instructional value, the readings contained a latria efficacious as prayer to God, that the readings were an act of worship themselves if done for the proper purpose.

Where do these readings appear in the Missals of the day? No where at all. They were recited at private Masses before the Johannine In principio, not in place of it. Benefactors, with the consultation of the celebrant, could select votive orations for the commemorations at the Masses they endowed, but did not alter the structure of the Mass. Instead, they had their own liturgical devotion along with the celebrant, one that they believed "especially powerful, to bring particular blessings or protection from certain evils.... Even the unlettered laity noticed, and valued such variations" (Duffy).

In those days before the 40 hour work week attendance at weekday Masses for special intentions was normal. A private Mass was not a Mass said in a private place, but rather any Mass that was not the canonical norm for the community; cathedrals, monasteries, and collegiate churches had to celebrate the Mass of the day every day, while a parish needed only celebrate the Mass of the day for feasts and Sundays. Anything beyond that—from a Marian votive Mass to an anniversary Requiem—could reasonably be called a "private Mass" and the prayers within it subject to the needs of those who asked for it (KL Wood-Legh).

The "people" valued the readings as both instructions and as a form of prayer for their own needs and so added them to the liturgy, albeit not the public liturgy, of the Church in their time. Whether or not they comprehended every word, they understood the general thrust of what was happening and valued it, knowing they did their duties as providers for their caring parsons and monks, who offered their desired votives. It is rather like the act of baking the prosphora for the Divine Liturgy.

Could there be a more grounded example of participatio actuosa? I may go down to a local parish and ask for Gospel passage of the crowd demanding Our Lord's death when I next commission a Mass for the conversion of those who worship at the Galleria shopping mall.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Eastern Church Five Years On, Part I: Teach Me Your Statutes

Almost five years ago, to the Sunday, I walked entered the Greek Church aloof to its mysteries and eager for an alternative to the insular world of worship which I knew. After some light digging online I found that I should not expect a holy water stoop nor a genuflection on entry to the church. I walked into a Melkite church in New Hampshire half an hour before the proper start to the Divine Liturgy, providing a sufficient cushion for getting lost. I approached the church with the trepidation one feels when leaving one’s element, like going away from home for the first time or going off to university. Vaguely, some rough, pulsating noise resonated from the opened windows of the parish; they sang words I could not discern.

As told, I found no holy water stoop upon entering the narthex nor anything toward which to genuflect. After the initial doors a stand bore an icon of the Dormition. I passed the icon and saw wonders. A great gate demanded all attention. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Blessed Mother, John Chrysostom, and Basil the Great looked upon me in blessing from four panels. Four cantors surrounded a podium to the left of the icon screen and two deacons stood around a similar podium to the right. They continued the hymn which I heard only faintly from outside, bowing to the floor at each refrain.

Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me Your statutes

The order of the angels was amazed,
When they beheld You, O Savior, among the dead,
Destroying the power of death, and raising Adam with You,
And releasing all from Hades.

Blessed are you, O Lord, teach me Your statutes

After four or five years living in the traditionalist segment of the Latin Church I found myself uncomfortably staring at true worship with no strings attached. Like the ancient Roman liturgy I came to love there was a “flesh of my flesh” sort of devotion and worship here, but bereft of any political affiliation or symbolic status on one’s opinions. Without the positive reinforcement that comes from selecting a satisfying position against one’s imagined foes, I was left to see this act of latria in a way I had viewed no other before it, as the worship of God for God’s own sake.

Very early in the morning the myrrh-bearers ran lamenting to Your tomb,
But the angel stood by them and said,
“Do not weep, the time for lamenting has passed,
Announce the Resurrection to the Apostles.”

Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me Your statutes

Hitherto, my understanding of the Church came from a narrow set of arguments that effectively said, “What preceded 1962 was original to the Apostolic tradition and your ideas are novel.” While that generally continued to be true in the limited sense I understood the situation in the Church, I had little knowledge, and no wisdom, for the actual Tradition of the Church properly understood. Other than St. Augustine, I had not seriously engaged a Church Father. Other than the Tridentine Mass, I had not seen a traditional liturgy, and certainly not in so normative a setting; the Tridentine Mass was always the exception in parishes. Like most traddies, I was a modern Cordelia Flyte: I knew little and believed it madly.

Since you gave birth to the Giver of Life, O Virgin,
You delivered Adam from sin,
And you granted joy to Eve instead of sadness,
For He Who took flesh from you, God and Man, restored to life him who had gone astray.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Glory be to You, O God!

It is the purpose of this post and a short succeeding series to ruminate on my five years living, thinking, and worshipping in the Greek Churches. In short, it has been a slow withdrawal from the toxic political atmosphere prevalent in some corners of the traditionalist world and an introduction to wonderment at the act of worship of the Holy Trinity.

In this Melkite Church there was no sense of “right” and “wrong”, meaning that one side of opinions was right and the one I did not belong to was in error. There was simple worship of God. Having spent the past few years preaching the wickedness of removing the Introibo ad altare Dei prayers I was ill prepared to hear the Great Doxology sung at the end of the Orthros (Mattins) service and then witness the Divine Liturgy begin with such words as to arouse one’s long dormant spiritual imagination.

Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.