Barry McGuire, My Daughter, and the Moon

The moon has cast a spell over the human race since the time when we could look up and observe its haunting face shining in the night sky. Shifting, changing, waxing, waning, luminous with a beauty which pierces the heart, it has captured us for as long as history has been recorded, and longer. The righteous Job felt the temptation to worship the moon, though he had the orthodox sense to refuse:…

Appreciating Anathemas

The decrees and canons of the Provincial and Ecumenical Councils today often sound odd in our modern ears—the Council Fathers were so zealous, serious, intent, and well, intolerant. The Council of Gangra, for example, dealing with a movement in the Church which took a dim view of sex, decreed, “If anyone shall condemn marriage or abominate and condemn a woman who is a believer and devout and sleeps with her own husband…

Three Liturgical Questions

I sometimes cannot help asking myself three liturgical questions whenever I visit churches which serve the Liturgy in the “classic” pattern I learned in seminary—all of those questions quite rhetorical. I would like to share them here in a spirit of calm inquiry in the hope of provoking helpful discussion about things liturgical. My approach might be styled as motivated by a spirit of “liturgical reform” by some, or even “renovation” by…

Commentary on the Divine Liturgy: the Gospel

I would like to conclude this commentary series on the Divine Liturgy (or at least the first part of the Liturgy, the so-called “Liturgy of the Catechumens”) with a reflection on the reading of the Gospel. In the Liturgy, after the reader chants the prokeimenon and the epistle, the Gospel lesson is then chanted. But it is not chanted without a somewhat elaborate preparation. Prior to the priest taking the Gospel book…

Commentary on the Divine Liturgy: the Epistle

In the Orthodox Divine Liturgy, after the Trisagion Hymn comes the chanting of the prokeimenon and of the epistle. In many places the prokeimenon now has practically no purpose or significance, and looks like a verbal tag chanted in haste by the reader to introduce the epistle which follows it, for the people either make no congregational response to the chanting of the prokeimenon or a distinctly minimal one. Originally of course…

Book Review: The Departure of the Soul

Lately a new book has become available, The Departure of the Soul, published by St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery in Arizona. Its full title is, The Departure of the Soul According to the Teaching of the Orthodox Church; a Patristric anthology, and this about sums it up. It deals with the Scriptural material as interpreted by the Fathers, and goes on to examine the teaching as found in the liturgical services of…