Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How the Holy Apostle Andrew Became the Patron Saint of Scotland

And thus became an important part of Souþern life as well:

St. Regulus, or Rule, is commemorated on October 17/30.  According to tradition, in the fourth century at the command of an angel Regulus took a small portion of the relics of St. Andrew the Apostle from Patras in Greece and sailed to the northwest with them.  He may have taken several companions with him; among them may have been St. Triduana.  Finally Regulus reached the shore of the present-day Scottish county of Fife.  There he built a church to keep the relics of St. Andrew, which later was called St. Andrews.  This town grew into a center of pilgrimage and Gospel teaching.  St. Andrew thus became the patron-saint of Scotland, and the cross on which he was crucified became the national emblem of the country.  In the twelfth century, a magnificent cathedral of St. Andrew was built on the site of the original church in St. Andrews.  It was 120 meters (or c. 390 feet) long.  St. Andrews was considered to be the spiritual capital of Scotland, and pilgrims came there from different corners of the world.  During the Reformation the cathedral was destroyed, and today only the ruins of this important Roman Catholic cathedral survive.  St. Regulus’ tower, which dates earlier than the twelfth century and stands thirty-three meters (108 feet) tall, survives intact.  Tiny portions of St. Andrew’s relics are kept inside the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral in London.

Source:  Dmitry Lapa, ‘Saint Triduana of Scotland’, http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/98004.htm, opened 25 Oct. 2016

St Regulus’s Tower

Cathedral ruins

St Andrew’s Cross on Scotland’s flag.  This is what the South's own flag is patterned after.


Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the South!

Anathema to the Union!

Friday, October 21, 2016

The False Narrative of America’s Christian Roots

If one listens to evangelicals in the [u]nited States for very long, he will eventually come across statements like this:

Our Founding Fathers fashioned a republic to reflect "the laws of nature and nature's God." From their wisdom – based on God's wisdom – America emerged as the greatest nation in human history.

But now in 2016, the heart of America has become hardened to the things of God.

This nation, founded upon a respect for Judeo-Christian views of man, nature, and government, soon must regain that respect lest freedom give way to oppression, and democratic ideals are trampled underfoot by tyrants. This has been the pattern of history.

Source:  Tim Wildmon, http://www.afa.net/americacannotwait, opened 7 Oct. 2016

The trouble is, most of this not true.  America has not got mainly Christian values at the heart of her political culture but Enlightenment and Whig ideas and so forth.  Unexpectedly, three evangelicals themselves, Mark Noll, Nathan Hatch, and George Marsden, in their book The Search for Christian America (The Search for Christian America, Expanded Edition, Colorado Springs, Helmers & Howard, 1989), do a good job of setting the record straight.  In this particular passage from their book, they show rather plainly the heretical route America has taken, particularly in equating her own identity and destiny with that of the Church:

American Christians were also especially susceptible to the lure of legend-building because they inherited a heightened religious interpretation of the nation’s founding.  As we have seen in Chapter 2, early New Englanders had determined that they were God’s chosen people because they had such pure religion.  By the time of the American Revolution, however, many throughout the colonies were making statements that America was elect because of the heights of civil liberty that it had achieved.  This is a significant shift, for it made it possible to express secular purposes in religious terms, as Alan Heimert has indicated:

In the years between the Stamp Act and the Revolution the evangelical ministry often spoke in the phrases of Sam Adams—who in 1772 explained that the religion and public liberty of a people are so intimately connected, their interests are interwoven and cannot exist separately.  Not the least of the consequences of such a blending of interests and issues was that elements of the Calvinist populace were allowed to think that they were defending religion when in fact they were doing battle for civil liberties.

 . . . At the time of the Revolution, the vision of America’s sacred destiny remained intense but with an altered foundation.  Instead of motivating men to create a Christian society, it encouraged them to bring about a revolution that would ensure the reign of civil liberty.

Between the American Revolution and 1800, the United States underwent a major religious depression, probably the low ebb of religious vitality in the nation’s history.  Yet in contrast to the downward state of religion, millennial expectancy during these years rose to new heights.  One minister triumphantly proclaimed that the advancing kingdom had delivered “the deadly shock to the last section of the Babylonian Image. . . . It trembles, it reels to and fro, and threatens to fall.”

But how could ministers rejoice in the success of the kingdom when their own churches lay devastated by the enemy?  Their answer was that God, in their view, had shifted his primary base of operations to the arena of nations.  In the ringing success of the American republic, they witnessed a model for the coming age:  “No sooner had the twenty years of our political operation built for us this political temple,” the same Presbyterian went on in 1796, “than wisdom fell from God in respect to the millennial temple.”

This transference of religious fervor to national ideals became the heart of American civil religion.  Christians began to suggest, as the Congregationalist John Mellen did in 1797, “that the expansion of republican forms of government will accompany that spreading of the gospel . . . which the scripture prophecies represent as constituting the glory of the latter days.”  This shift greatly strengthened the American republic, endowing it with a new sense of lofty purpose.  The nation rather than the church easily emerged as the primary agent of God’s activity in history (italics added).  (pgs. 112-4)

Because we have so many liberties, the American ‘fathers’ say, we must be blessed by God above all other countries.  And so delusion becomes more deeply set in the souls of Americans:

 . . . No less persuaded of the hand of Providence over the birth of the nation was George Bancroft, the best known historian of Antebellum America.  He judged the era of the Revolution second in importance only to the birth of Christ.  Of the Constitution Bancroft wrote, “The members were awestruck at the results of their councils. . . . The Constitution was a nobler work than any one of them had believed possible to achieve.”

Even those more directly concerned about evangelism, missions, and the church joined the chorus that identified the founding of the American republic as a signal event in redemptive history.  “The millennium would commence in America,” predicted the evangelical statesman Lyman Beecher, where “by the march of revolution and civil liberty,” the way of the Lord is to be prepared.  From this nation “shall the renovating power go forth.”  Only America could provide the physical effort and pecuniary and moral power to evangelize the world.  “Our Heavenly Father,” said William Williams in 1845, “has made us a national epistle to other lands.”  Even the Presbyterian Charles Hodge, who normally made a sharper distinction between the church and the nation, fell into step with his countrymen when he wrote in 1829 that “if the Gospel is to form our character and guide our power, we shall be a fountain of life to all nations (pgs. 108-9).” 

Such theologizing leads America to the point where she is now, that by virtue of her chosenness, she must have preeminence in deciding world affairs, to such an extent that she must slay the monster of tyranny, as she defines it, wherever she finds it in the world.  And so anything remotely resembling a patriarchal, hierarchical, traditional society, anything opposed to unnatural equality and rule by the masses, must be stamped out for the sake of ‘constitutional values’ and such like:

Even more puzzling is someone like Alexander Campbell, founder of the Disciples of Christ, who normally made short shrift of anything historical.   Campbell dismissed the value of all the church’s past experience since the age of the apostles—Protestant as well as Catholic.  All was entangled with Antichrist.  Like Jefferson, he thought no living generation should bow before its predecessors.  The only history that did not draw his contempt was the “Ancient Order of Things,” the purity and simplicity of the New Testament church.

Yet Campell’s distrust of history made room for one other exception:  the glorious events of July 4, 1776.  In 1830, he declared that this was “a day to be remembered with the Jewish Passover.”  . . .  On one such occasion [graduation day at Bethany College, West Virginia, on 4 July--W.G.] he called upon his students to imitate the work of Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson:

A more glorious work is reserved for this generation—a work of as much great moment, compared with the Revolution of ’76 as immortality is to the present span of human life—the emancipation of the human mind from the shackles of superstition—to deliver them from the melancholy thralldom of relentless systems. . . . This revolution, taken in all its influences, will make men free indeed.

Somehow the work of the founding fathers had escaped the corruption that had left its indelible stain upon two thousand years of history.  In Campell’s mind it was precisely the Revolution which broken the tyrannical grip of custom (p. 109). 

Sadly, a part of the South has also been enamored with this idea of equating republican/constitutional government with Christian progress (although, thankfully, there is another strain of Southern thought opposed to this.  Southerners have been woefully double-minded in their relationship to revolutionary/Enlightenment politics).  Someone who ought to have known better, the Rev James Henley Thornwell, summed up this particular belief of Southerners as well as anyone when he said,

We stand, indeed, in reference to free institutions and the progress of civilization in the momentous capacity of the federal representatives of the human race.  . . . The liberty of the world is at stake.  The American Congress is now deliberating upon the civil destinies of mankind.  . . . [T]he interests of religion are deeply at stake.  Here Protestant Christianity is ascendant, and stretches its missionary arm across the globe—we cannot interrupt this divine task with civil strife (James Farmer, The Metaphysical Confederacy, 2nd ed., Macon, Ga., Mercer UP, 1999, pgs. 248-9).

Significantly, there are also these lines that seem to haunt the minds of so many Southerners today:

Our glory is departed—the spell is broken—whenever we become divided among ourselves (p. 248).

Everything ‘depends upon Union’ (p. 248).

It is no great wonder, then, that so many Southerners no longer think about leaving the Union.  To take anything away from it, in their minds, would lead to the same result as Old Testament Israel losing the Ark of the Covenant:  The Glory of God would depart from them.

But what they must realize is that this trend toward democracies and republics, toward government of, by, and for the people, is not the will of God but of the enemy of mankind, the devil.  Now is a good time to remember something posted here in March 2014:

            . . . About his preceptor, Fr. Seraphim wrote:  “Archbishop Averky’s view of the contemporary world was sober, precise, and entirely inspired by the Sacred Scripture and Holy Fathers of the Church:  He taught that we live in the age of the Apostasy, the falling away from true Christianity, when the ‘mystery of iniquity’ has entered its final stage of preparation for the ‘man of sin,’ Antichrist.”
Like Fr. Seraphim, Archbishop Averky had made an extensive study of the philosophical roots of the apostasy.  As Fr. Seraphim noted:  “Archbishop Averky traced the development of this Apostasy in particular from the time of the schism of the Church of Rome (1054), through the era of Humanism, the Renaissance and Reformation, the French Revolution, nineteenth-century materialism and Communism, culminating in the Russian Revolution of 1917, which removed the last great barrier to the working of the mystery of iniquity and the coming of Antichrist.”
As we have seen, Archbishop Averky was in the direct spiritual line of the nineteenth-century Russian prophet St. Theophan the Recluse, whose prophecies—like those of his contemporary St. Ignatius Brianchaninov—he saw unmistakably being fulfilled around him.  St. Theophan had prophesied the fall of the Orthodox Tsar and its terrible aftermath, which he said must come as a punishment for the faithlessness, freethinking, amorality, and blasphemy among his countrymen.  “When royal authority falls,” Theophan had said, “and the people everywhere institute self-government (republics, democracies), then there will be room for the Antichrist to act.  It will not be hard for Satan to prepare voices in favor of renouncing Christ, as experience showed during the French Revolution.  There will be no one to pronounce the authoritative veto.  And so when such regimes, suitable for disclosing the Antichrist’s aspirations, are instituted everywhere, then the Antichrist will appear.”
            This was exactly what Archbishop Averky saw happening in the contemporary world.  “The fundamental task of the servants of the coming Antichrist,” he wrote, “is to destroy the old world with its former concepts and ‘prejudices,’ in order to build in its place a new world suitable for receiving its approaching ‘new owner,’ who will take the place of Christ for people and give them on earth that which Christ did not give them.”  In the words of St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, “The Antichrist will be the logical, just, and natural result of the general moral and spiritual direction of mankind.”
            Like his beloved St. John of Kronstadt, Archbishop Averky found that the most difficult thing to endure as an Orthodox pastor was to witness the apparent triumph of evil in the world.  He saw Christians of all different denominations “keeping step with the times,” unconsciously collaborating with the servants of the coming Antichrist by preaching humanistic, chiliastic ideas of “world progress” and earthly blessedness—ideas which appear motivated by “Christian love,” but which are in reality profoundly foreign to true Christianity.  “Bearing one’s cross is the natural way of every true Christian,” Archbishop Averky affirmed, “without which there is no Christianity.”
            Archbishop Averky was especially wounded at heart when he saw Orthodox leaders trying to keep up with these apostate trends for the sake of “ecumenical” progress, thus contributing to the “new Christianity” of the Antichrist—a “Christianity without the Cross” (Hieromonk Damascene, Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works, 3rd ed., Platina, Ca.: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2010, pgs. 734-5, bold emphasis added).

But what do we find in evangelical communities today?  A call to pray for the return of God’s anointed in Russia?  Or, closer to home, for Christian kings in the States, or one in Washington City?  No.

Evangelical pastors overwhelmingly believe voting is a Christian duty. Almost all (94%) say American Christians have a biblical responsibility to vote. That includes pastors of all denominational stripes—from Pentecostal (98%) and Baptist pastors (95%) to Presbyterian/Reformed pastors (81%) and Church of Christ ministers (79%).

Voting - making one’s voice heard, forcing one’s will on another - is not a very Christian act.  Silent obedience, humility, cutting off one’s will for the sake of another - these are Christian virtues.  There are other ways to do good for society than participating in a system that overwhelmingly puts into the seats of government power those loyal to the globalist banksters and other transnational corporate interests (Monsanto, GE, etc.)  But the longer Southerners and all Americans continue to treat the u. S. Constitution as though it were holy writ like the Ten Commandments;

(From http://www.afa.net/americacannotwait, opened 21 Oct. 2016)

the longer they continue to view America as the only nation able to receive God’s Grace and to dispense it to the other nations of the world in the form of paper constitutions, bills of rights, privately owned central banks, military bases, etc.;  the longer they will continue on in their political, spiritual, and cultural death spiral.

The world will be quite alright if America isn’t there to oversee its affairs.  It would probably be better off, in fact.  So instead of wasting time and energy fighting about Trump or Clinton, Supreme Court nominees, and all the rest of it, let Southerners, Midwesterners, Alaskans, Puerto Ricans, etc. start planning on how they can all peacefully go their own separate ways, building traditional Orthodox Christian societies as best they can within their new borders, and allying themselves with countries like Russia and Hungary who are in the vanguard of opposing the satanic New World Order, which would likely be hampered for a time without the resources of almighty Washington City at their beck and call.

May God grant the u. S., if it is pleasing to Him, a future that looks something like this:


Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the South!

Anathema to the Union!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Saints and Culture-Making

In a healthy country, Orthodox Church life penetrates every aspect of a people’s daily life in the world, so much so that one might say that Church life is the same as the national life.  This being so, when holy men and women - saints - appear in a þeod (nation), we should expect them to leave lasting impressions upon its life.  And this is what we have seen throughout Christian history, so much so that many places throughout Christendom, in some way or another, have saintly men and women at the root of their culture.  Here are a few ensamples from the Irish and British Islands, from where so much of Southern life has its beginnings, that show how the lives of the saints influenced local and national life.

St Edith of Wilton, England

St. Edith is still much venerated at her birthplace, in the picturesque large village of Kemsing in Kent. The ancient holy well in the center of the village bears the name of St. Edith. Its water has been known for its healing properties, especially for eye diseases, and local farmers also used its water to bless fields and for rich harvests. Recently the ancient tradition of annual “well-dressing” has been revived there. Local communities organize annual processions to the well. The village’s parish church is dedicated to the Mother of God; it has two beautiful stained glass windows depicting St. Edith and a banner dedicated to her. The front of the Kemsing village hall (a local club) is beautifully adorned with a clock and a statue of St. Edith, who is honored by the villagers. There is another ancient holy well dedicated to our saint—in the Herefordshire village of Stoke Edith in the very west of England. This well was once famous for its curative properties, and pilgrims flocked to it for bathing and healing as late as the mid-nineteenth century. Now it is on private property and not accessible to pilgrims. The local village church is again dedicated to the Mother of God. Thus the memory of the royal princess and virgin Edith of Wilton, who rejected taking up both secular and spiritual power and chose to live in humility and holiness, is preserved in the English land.

Source:  Dmitry Lapa, http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/97360.htm, opened 1 Oct. 2016

St Ethelwold’s (Bishop of Winchester, England) many remarkable works

 . . . At Abingdon, Ethelwold worked with his own hands, growing vegetables in the garden, and as the builder of the monastic church—once he even fell from scaffolding and broke his ribs; by the grace of God he was soon cured. At Winchester, he and some of his monk-builders built a very powerful organ. It was played by two people and had 400 pipes and thirty-six bellows. This organ could be heard from a great distance. It was used only for royal ceremonies. Not only was he a skilled builder and cook, he also excelled in metalwork; he himself cast bells for Abingdon, made censers, chalices, and candlesticks of gold and silver for its church. Following the example of his ninth-century predecessor, St. Swithin, who had built the first bridge over the river in Winchester, St. Ethelwold constructed the first aqueduct (water supply system) at Winchester to provide monastery brethren and neighboring city residents with piped water.

'Baptism of the Lord' - a miniature from the Benedictional of St. Ethelwold(photo from Wikipedia).
 . . . Numerous disciples and followers of St. Ethelwold from Winchester, Abingdon and other monastic centers he restored would become celebrated abbots, bishops, and missionaries in the future. Some of them, in the following eleventh century, went to Scandinavia as missionaries and were later listed among the saints of God.

Ethelwold built the first scriptoria at Winchester and, under his influence, the Winchester style of manuscript illumination was introduced into many English monasteries and cathedrals. These, according to evidence of that time, even surpassed products of many scriptoria in continental Europe. One of the high points of tenth-century illumination is the Benedictional of St. Ethelwold. The scribe of this Benedictional was monk Godeman from Abingdon, whom St. Ethelwold commissioned to produce this masterpiece at Winchester, after which the latter became Abbot of Thorney. It is very richly and lavishly decorated and has twenty-eight page miniatures. The Latin text contains blessings uttered by a bishop during the Liturgy. Each day of the liturgical year and each saint’s feast-day had a separate blessing. There were highly-ranked feasts of Sts. Swithin of Winchester, Etheldreda of Ely, and Vedast (a French saint). It also contains a blessing of candles for the feast of the Meeting of the Lord. Several distinctive blessings were composed at Winchester itself. Today this precious Benedictional, which experts regard as one of the best examples of early English art, is kept at the British Library in London.

Ethelwold founded a famous and important school for vernacular writing in Winchester. Its scholars, among other things, made accurate and distinct linguistically relevant translations of sacred and spiritual texts from Latin into their native Old English. This huge task was absolutely vital, especially for English priests and bishops who were not monks. This contributed to Old English becoming the literary language of the English state. The most prominent scholar connected with this school is, beyond doubt, Aelfric of Eynsham (c. 955-c. 1020), a celebrated spiritual writer, homilist, and hagiographer of the age; he was a pupil at Winchester. (Aelfric of Eynsham is not to be confused with St. Aelfric of Abingdon (+1005, feast: November 16/29), who was a monk and abbot of Abingdon and was later raised to the rank of Archbishop of Canterbury).

Ethelwold was a talented writer, poet, and translator; some of his written works survive. His work includes: a treatise on the circle, glosses on St. Aldhelm’s work On Virginity, the gloss on the Royal Psalter in Old English, and his translation of the Rule of St. Benedict and of “Regularis Concordia” (a sort of a handbook of monastic practice, see below) into Old English. Ethelwold also created works of Church art, but, unfortunately, none of them survive.

Liturgies at Winchester monasteries were rich and varied. Ethelwold’s Winchester was famous for producing the first collection of polyphonic singing in England (in two or more parts each having a melody of its own), called the “Winchester Troper.” The Troper (from the Greek “troparion”) probably contains the earliest large collections of two-part music in all Europe. Firstly, it comprises more than 160 examples of two-part pieces, probably composed by Wulfstan the Cantor, whom St. Ethelwold knew. For a long time, it was thought that the music in the Troper could not be deciphered and sung. However, modern scholars have enabled this music to be both played and performed, even publishing recordings available today on CD. Secondly, it comprises a complete liturgical drama with music, making it the earliest extant European play with music! The Troper is comprised of two separate manuscripts, one of which is kept at the Bodlean Library in Oxford, and another kept at Corpus Christi College of Cambridge University.
St. Ethelwold served as Bishop of Winchester for twenty-one years. Whatever he undertook was blessed by God, which is why his works had such a lasting effect. Three remarkable events marked the final years of his ministry. The first was the promulgation of the document called “Regularis Concordia” in 970, a code of monastic rules, compiled and developed mainly by St. Ethelwold, with the participation of Sts. Dunstan and Oswald, for the thirty reformed English monasteries. It was based primarily on the Rule of St. Benedict of Nursea, with some minor additions according to customs existing in Ghent (Belgium), Fleury (France), and Glastonbury. The second event was the translation of the relics of the wonderworker, St. Swithin of Winchester, in 971, into the magnificently restored Old Minster Cathedral of Winchester. From that time on, St. Swithin’s shrine was the destination of thousands on annual pilgrimages from all England and Europe, throughout the Middle Ages. The third event was the consecration of the Cathedral in Winchester in 980. This cathedral was destined to be one of the largest and greatest in all Europe and also a center for the arts. The grandeur and scale of that Cathedral have only recently been duly appreciated by scholars.

Each of these three events was marked by a large, solemn assembly of clergy, laity, and royalty, and the consecration of the Cathedral brought together nine bishops. The monasteries established or revived by Sts. Dunstan, Oswald, and Ethelwold in the second half of the tenth century provided up to three quarters of all the bishops in England, right up until the Norman Conquest. Over the span of twenty to thirty years, the spiritual picture had changed radically in England; monastic life, Church activities, family piety, education, various crafts, and the ascetic life were raised to a very high level. This was the “Silver Age” of English Orthodoxy.

 . . .

Source:  Dmitry Lapa, http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/96173.htm, opened 14 Aug. 2016

St Winifred and her holy well

St. Winifred, whose name in her own language was Gwenfrewi, was born in North Wales in the early seventh century, when Christendom was still whole, and many great saints where living on the British Isles.  . . .

Holywell first enters written history in 1093, when ”Haliwel” was presented to St. Werburgh's Abbey, Chester. In 1240, the Welsh prince Dafydd ap Llewelyn, once more in control of this area in Wales, gave the holy well and church to the newly-established Basingwerk Abbey; and the Cistercian monks cared for the well and its pilgrims until the Reformation.

Winifred's fame, and with it the fame of the Well, continued to spread throughout the middle ages, but little is factually recorded about the pilgrimage. By 1415, her feast had become a major solemnity throughout Wales and England. Kings could be found among her pilgrims. Henry V came in 1416. Richard III maintained a priest at the Well. But it was during the reign of the Welsh Henry VII that devotion reached its pinnacle, with the building of the present well-shrine under the patronage of Henry's mother, Margaret Beaufort.

Such glory was short lived, though the Well's fame was never eclipsed. The Reformation swept away shrines and pilgrimages; but no attempt ever quite succeeded in destroying devotion to St. Winifred at her Well. Through all the years of religious persecution, pilgrims, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, continued to visit Holywell. It became the centre of Catholic resistance. James II and his queen visited the Well in 1686, to pray for an heir. But James was exiled, and the persecution renewed. Through these long years, Holywell and its pilgrims were served by the Jesuits. They wrote popular Lives of the saint; and even kept inns in the town, where Mass could be said in comparative safety.

In the nineteenth century, after Catholic Emancipation, it was the Jesuits who oversaw and directed the spectacular renaissance of the pilgrimage. A church opened in the town in the 1840's was constantly enlarged and enriched. A pilgrim's hospice was erected shortly afterwards. And under Fr. Beauclerk in the 'nineties, the pilgrimage underwent a revival of medieval proportions. Pilgrims came literally in thousands, necessitating a branch rail line into the town. The popular press gave account of each reported cure. And the sick reported cures in such numbers that Holywell came to be called the 'Lourdes of Wales'. Despite the alterations to pilgrimage patterns caused by the increasing secularism of 20th-century life, and by devotional changes within Catholicism itself, the Jesuit's heritage continues: people are still coming to Holywell on pilgrimage.

 . . .

Source:  http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/42777.htm, opened 10 May 2016

St Ciaran’s monastery at Clonmacnoise

 . . .

St. Ciaran reposed in the Lord in about 545 (or about 549), dying from the plague, living only until the young age of 33. Several other Irish saints also died of the same plague at that time. His abbacy lasted for less than a year, but over his short life Ciaran attained sainthood and remained for many centuries a father to thousands of Irish monks. St. Columba of Iona, a friend of St. Ciaran who had studied together with him in Clonard, called him “a lamp shining with the light of true wisdom.” St. Kevin, a great hermit and wonderworker of Glendalough, was also among Ciaran’s friends. Alcuin (c. 735-804), an English scholar at the Frankish court, who had studied in Clonmacnoise, referred to St. Ciaran as “the glory of the Scots (i.e., the Irish)”. Many noted chroniclers, poets, theologians, artists, architects, sculptors, historians were educated in this renowned monastic centre; for example, Dicuil, a brilliant geographer.

The monastery of Clonmacnoise, founded by St. Ciaran, at first with only his ten disciples, grew very rapidly and by the eight and ninth centuries had become the largest Irish monastery and centre of learning and culture. The same fame was enjoyed by its school-seminary, which had been founded by the abbot himself and afterwards became “a smithy of saints”. Researchers stress that this seminary was not merely of regional, but of national importance. In the eleventh century the site of the original small wooden monastery was dominated by a massive new stone monastery, in which already some 1500-2000 monks lived. In the seventh-twelfth centuries—the monastery’s period of particular prosperity—hundreds of learned monks flocked to Clonmacnoise from the whole of Europe.

Clonmacnoise developed into a real monastic city and was considered to be the most famous in Ireland. The monastery could boast of its school, a scriptorium for copying manuscripts, and numerous churches. Masters from Clonmacnoise created the most excellent artworks from stone and metal in all Ireland. Many kings of Connacht and Tara were buried and rested within the monastery. By 1408 the brethren had completed writing The Annals of Clonmacnoise, which was a chronicle of historic events in Ireland from the prehistoric period till 1408. The monastery possessed a large number of high and round Celtic crosses; most of them, sadly, were destroyed by the Vikings, and in 1552 by radical Protestant-iconoclasts who ravaged and desecrated Clonmacnoise Cathedral. This holy monastery existed until the sixteenth century, and over its history suffered from forty different raids! The shrine with the saint’s relics was also subjected to desecration and pillaging more than once. However, St. Ciaran’s staff did survive and is now kept at the National Museum of Dublin.
Today in Clonmacnoise, Catholic and Orthodox pilgrims visit the well-preserved ruins of the ancient monastery. On this old monastic site (the nearest town to Clonmacnoise is Athlone, some twelve miles away) very ancient churches partly survive as well, and some of them have been restored in recent times. The ninth century St. Ciaran’s Church contains the former grave of St. Ciaran. In Clonmacnoise you can also visit the Cathedral, which was originally built in 909 and partly restored not long ago. A number of unique Celtic crosses, which are of a special interest, miraculously survive here to this day. One primary school in Dublin is dedicated to St. Ciaran.

 . . .

Source:  Dmitry Lapa, http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/73745.htm, opened 18 Oct. 2016

St Finbarr of Cork, Ireland

 . . . But the man of God’s main achievement was the foundation on the river Lee of his most important and influential monastery, on the site called Cork, which in the tenth century would become a thriving town. Now it is a very beautiful city in the south of Ireland. In effect the city of Cork grew and developed around the saint’s monastery. Thus, Finbarr, the first Abbot of Cork, was one of many early saints of the British Isles and Ireland who contributed to formation of future large settlements with their churches or monasteries at the center of the community.

About the year 600, St. Finbarr was consecrated the first bishop of Cork. The celebrated Monastery of Cork became a center of monasticism in southern Ireland, and many pious men gathered there from all over Ireland in order to be trained in monastic life and to live in holiness. St. Finbarr gained general love and respect as a brilliant and experienced teacher and a loving father of his flock. At the school-seminary that was founded at Cork Monastery, spiritual and secular sciences were taught and students prepared for priesthood. This place became known as a center of learning, a seedbed of saints, a sanctuary of Christian virtues, a refuge for the oppressed, a shelter for the sick and the poor. St. Finbarr did not stop his activities as a builder – he erected no fewer than twelve more churches in the Cork region during his ministry there. He preached the Gospel tirelessly throughout his life, and as a bishop he trained and ordained many deacons, presbyters, bishops. He baptized many people, and became known as a great wonderworker. Fintan often visited the monasteries and churches he had founded as part of his pastoral care, especially Gougane Barra – his most favorite creation – where he sometimes withdrew for quiet prayer.

 . . .

Source:  Dmitry Lapa, http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/97682.htm, opened 9 Oct. 2016

The South claims to have a Christian culture, and in some respects this is so.  But when measured against the life of her Orthodox forebears, she still has a lot of work to do.  If the South truly wants to have a Christian culture in the fullest sense of the words, she must start cultivating saints again.  But to do this, she will have to reject pluralism and move as one people into the Orthodox Church, where Christ in His fulness dwells.  For - to borrow an analogy from Fr Evan Armatas - if all the oarsmen of a boat are not rowing together in harmony, the boat goes nowhere.  And this is what has been happening in the South since the time of the Great Revival in the early 19th hundredyear (though there are some praiseworthy things about Southern Christianity, which we have touched on elsewhere):  Baptists, Church of Christ, Methodists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, and all the rest have been teaching different doctrines about the Church, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Ghost, etc.  When this is the case, no great progress will be made spiritually in a nation, for there is constant argument, factionalism, and disharmony.  So has the South been adrift for many years now.  But when all share the same life in Christ in the Orthodox Church, then will the South know true blessedness and show it forth in manifold ways in a sanctified culture.


Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the South!

Anathema to the Union!

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Saints and the Spiritual Health of a Nation

Everyday in the West we witness what ghostly (spiritual) sickness looks like.  But what does ghostly health look like in a nation?  One of the signs is the presence of saints, past and present, and the veneration of those saints who have forthfared, men and women who have acquired actual holiness by union with God, not the hologram of holiness in Protestantism or the second-hand holiness of created grace of Roman Catholicism.  That the South and other Western countries do not give birth to saints and have forgotten about those of former times is a sign of how far from the Orthodox Faith they have fallen.  Father Andrew Phillips again has some good words for us:

Q: Fr Andrew, when did you become interested in the Local Saints?

A: Almost exactly fifty years ago when I was nine years old, at school I read about the saintly Alfred the Great and did a child’s project on him. From here I began enquiring about nearby places that commemorated such saints. Near where I lived there was a little place named after St Albright (Ethelbert + 794) and the town of St Osyth (+ c.700), the town of Bury St Edmunds (St Edmund + 869), the town of Ely (St Audrey + 679) and Felixstowe (St Felix + 647) and a railway station named after St Botolph (+ 680). However, as a child, all I could do was ask questions of adults and wonder who these men and women had been and why they were called saints, who must have been great because 1300 years later people still remembered them in place names.

The year after that, when I was ten years old, there was the 900th anniversary of the so-called Battle of Hastings. I understood that something catastrophic had happened then, which had destroyed and buried a whole, mysterious English Christian Civilization together with all these saints and holiness. And that was kept secret.

It was only in my teens that I began reading and wondering why exactly these saints had been forgotten and hidden and how a whole new layer of unsaintliness and even anti-saintliness had covered them over, obscuring them. The other question that I asked myself was why there were no longer any saints, no new saints, only these ancient ones. The source of holiness had clearly dried up. No-one was interested in holiness any more. We now lived in a different Civilization, with different values, alien to me. Why? That was a question that no-one around me could answer, so I read and understood that it was because the Church, the source of all holiness, had been lost. Without the Church there is no holiness, no saints, because only the Church is Holy.

Q: How did the Church lose the memory of these saints?

A: The memory of major or international Orthodox Saints of the West has never been lost by the Church: for example, many of the Roman martyrs like St Tatiana or St Anastasia and others like St Alexis, St Justin Martyr, St Irinaeus of Lyon, St Hilary of Poitiers, St Ambrose of Milan, St John Cassian, St Martin of Tours, St Leo the Great, St Gregory the Dialogist and St Martin of Rome have always been well-known and always been in the Church calendar. But the local Western saints, commemorated only in certain limited regions or even individual villages in Western Europe, were lost, quite simply for geographical reasons. When Orthodox no longer lived locally, then there was simply no-one left to venerate them and their memory was increasingly lost.

Q: Did Catholics not venerate them then?

A: Only to a very small extent; they had largely replaced the saints with new individuals, philosophers and the spiritually deluded, Anselms, Bernards, Dominics, Teresas and what have you. In other words, they replaced the first millennium with the second, that is, they replaced Orthodoxy with Catholicism. For Orthodox these new figures are not saints, since they have a quite alien mentality to that of the Church. Here is the reason why today we know so little about most of the saints – they were forgotten or their real Lives were replaced by false lives, legends and folklore. Even today you can go to Irish villages and instead of the local sixth-century Irish hermit being commemorated, you will find that the local church is dedicated to Bernadette and has a grotto with a statue. A completely alien mentality.

As for the Protestants, they of course completely denied the saints in their general rejection of even the concept of holiness and ascetic life. Nowadays, the ever more protestantized Catholics have stopped venerating the relics of the saints; for instance, in Bari in Italy, it is only Russian Orthodox who venerate St Nicholas, the Catholics have forgotten him. Relics in Catholic churches are kept tucked away in glass boxes in accessible places. And if you go to the Vatican and ask to venerate the relics of St Peter, they will tell you that you have to send a letter asking for permission three weeks in advance! They have lost it.

 . . .

Source:  http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/91953.htm, opened 31 March 2016

Without the Orthodox Church and her holy saints, Western Europe and her daughter countries around the world have taken on a different character:

Who are the great historical figures of Western Europe who define its identity? The answers of the secular world to this question are quite different from those of the Church. The Western secular world exalts secular figures like Charlemagne, Charles V, or Napoleon as “great Europeans”. But all three of these left Europe full of graves. Indeed, Charlemagne and Charles V were renowned for their massacres and, as for Napoleon, he declared that he would have had Christ hanged as a fanatic.

The catalogues of the Church exclude all such tyrants, for the true identity of Western Europe is defined not by them, but by the thousands upon thousands of Western Saints. Here we have no space to mention the many amongst them who achieved only local fame, but we can at least mention some of the greatest, who obtained international honor.

 . . .

Source:  Fr Andrew Phillips, http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/64458.htm, opened 20 March 2016

He goes on to list many of them.  Here are just a few:

Thirdly, after these martyrs who sowed the seeds of the Church, there came others to sow and then harvest. There came Church Fathers such as St. Hilary of Poitiers († c.368), St. Ambrose of Milan († 397), the Church writers Blessed Jerome of Stridon († 420) and Blessed Augustine of Hippo († 430), Fathers such as St. John Cassian (†435), St. Vincent of Perins (†450), St. Leo the Great (†461), and later St. Gregory the Great († 604) and St. Martin I († 655). And we should not fail to remember one who, though not a Church Father, is a great confessor who shone forth in Rome, St. Alexis († 5th century), the Man of God.

Similarly there are the great monastic founders and organizers of the Church, especially in heathen northwest Europe. For instance, in Gaul there were St. Martin of Tours († 397), who inspired St. Ninian († 432) in Pictish Scotland and St. Patrick in Ireland († c.461). In Italy, there was the great St. Benedict of Nursia († c.550). In Frankish Gaul there were St. Remigius (Remi) (†553), who baptized Clovis, St. Germanus of Paris (†561), St. Eloi († 660) and St. Peger († 679). In Iberia, there were St. Leander of Seville († c.601), St. Isidore of Seville († 636), St. lldefonsus (Alphonso) of Toledo († 666) and St. Julian of Toledo († 690). On the Germanic Marches there are also two great Apostles of the Lowlands, St. Lambert († c.705) and St. Hubert of Maastricht (+ 727).

For the last one thousand years, the West, and America in particular, sundered from the Orthodox Faith, has been doing its best to fulfill the expectations of all the old wise men of the world:

 . . .

It is only natural that “America” and “Mo-Uru” have a direct relationship to the myth of Atlantis, the paleo-continent about which Solon, Plato, and many before and after them spoke. Atlantis was the Western, sacred continent upon which a spiritual civilization flourished only to be destroyed as a result of a great cataclysm and flood. The death of the continent is most often described as comprising several stages. After the sinking of the mainland located to the West of Eurasia and Africa, for some time after separate islands in the North Atlantic were preserved on which the last tribes of the Atlantians were concentrated, the carriers of the ancient tradition. In Wirth’s opinion, Mo-Uru was such a remnant of Atlantis which in turn came to be flooded only much later, perhaps a few millennia following the main cataclysm. 

Judging by everything, the American continent was not the westernmost continent in sacred geography as Atlantis was, but rather its further-Western “continuation.” In other words, America was “beyond Atlantis”, the lands located “on the other side of the West.” It is possible that the sacred, symbolic location of America explains the disturbing secrets associated with it in the sacred geography of Eurasia’s traditional civilizations. 

According to this sacred geography, located in the West is a “Green Country,” the “Land of the Dead,” or some kind of quasi-material world resembling Hades or Sheol. This is the country of dusk and dawn in which there is no escape for mortals and whom only the initiated can reach. It is believed that the name Greenland (literally “Green Land”) refers to this same symbolic complex. But this “Green Country” is not Atlantis (and not even Mo-Uru!). This has to be one laying even further West as the “world of death,” the “kingdom of shadows.” And it is thus the supernatural dimension of the American continent which is quite miraculously revealed in such a, at first glance, banal thing as the dollar sign. Rene Guenon once noted that this symbol on American money is the graphic simplification of the sacred seal found on ancient coins of the Mediterranean zone. Originally, the two vertical bars were depictions of the two “pillars of Hercules” which, according to legend, stand in the far West beyond the Gibraltar Strait. The loop on this mark was once a slogan with the symbolic inscription “nec plus ultra”, which literally means “onward to nowhere.” Both of these symbols were meant to mark the border, or the Western limit of human sacred geography beyond which were found “inhuman worlds.” This “border” symbol, which indicates that it is impossible to go beyond the Gibraltar, paradoxically became the financial emblem of America, the country lying “beyond the borders” precisely “where it is impossible to go,” where the inscription on the original dollar sign categorically prohibited travel. It is here that the “otherworldly” symbolism of America appears, revealing the shady, forbidden sacred-geographical aspects of human civilization.[36] 

In this view, Columbus’ newfound discovery of the American continent bears a rather sinister meaning, as it signifies the emergence of “sunken Atlantis” on the horizon of history. But not even Atlantis itself, but its “shadow,” its negative continuation of the symbolic West to the point of the “world of the dead.” It is quite characteristic in this regard that this “new discovery” temporally coincided with the beginning of the severe decline of European (and pan-Eurasian) civilization, which rapidly began to lose its spiritual, religious, qualitative, and sacred principles from this time on. 

On a cultural, philosophical level, it is America that went on to become the perfect projection of purely profane, atheistic, and poly-atheistic utopias. Social models based on purely human rationality, beginning with Thomas Moore, increasingly settled on this continent.

Here once again, we see how it is not only the “unexplored” quality of these lands rendering it favorable for the realization of utopia, but also the archetypes of the “land of the dead where eternal peace and order reigns” and the image of the “green country” of the West that influenced the choice of this geographical space. 

The historical cycle of America, its rise from the watery depths as the “New Atlantis,” can be likened not to the true and risen[37] return of the “golden age”, but to the chimerical, fake, and illusory bearing the noxious smell of a continental grave. 

 . . .

Source:  Alexander Dugin, http://4pt.su/en/content/america-green-country, opened 20 Aug. 2016

But this does not have to be, not for the South and not for any Western European country.  We may take England for an ensample:

 . . . Norman-mindedness means turning everything upside down. With no interest in inward life and inward values, the Norman mentality, as we have seen above, prefers invasion, occupation and desecration, externals, pomp and ceremony, outward ‘niceness’, academic theories and fantasies, that is, spiritual castration. Now, at long last, over the last fifty years since the 900th anniversary of the Norman Occupation in 1966, there has been a revival of the veneration of the English saints; we are at last de-Normanizing, reversing the ills of invasion and occupation.

For example, in the last fifty years holy relics have been returned to the Church, like those of St Edward the Martyr, some of those of St Alban have gone back to St Albans and some of those of St Edmund have gone back to Bury St Edmunds. Pilgrims go to St Eanswythe in Kent, St Botolph in Suffolk, St Walstan in Norfolk, St Frideswide in Oxfordshire and St Bertram in Staffordshire and many others. Why? Because today there are Orthodox pilgrims who want to venerate the saints, to ask for their prayers, who compose services to them and paint icons of them. Many of these pilgrims are English, many others are Russian. Thus, there is a service to St Edward the Martyr and an akathist to St Audrey of Ely in Slavonic. Icons of some fifty of these saints have been painted, services have been composed to them, individually and collectively, their feasts are celebrated.

More than this, there have been miracles. For example, St John of Beverley. St Morwenna of Cornwall and St Birinus of Dorchester have all shown their presence to the devout in the places where their relics lie. St Wite of Dorset, whose relics have remained in place all these centuries, is venerated for her miracles. St Nectan and St Edward the Martyr have worked miracles of healing and St Edmund has shown a light in the sky where he was martyred. As for the feast day of St Audrey of Ely, 23 June, it was marked by the Brexit vote, recalling that Ely was one of the very last bastions of Englishness against the Norman occupiers and desecrators, whom we shall yet defeat. If veneration grows, we can expect more miracles, which will profoundly transfigure national life for the better, gradually freeing us from the age-long curse of the Norman Yoke.

Source:  Fr Andrew Phillips, http://www.events.orthodoxengland.org.uk/the-saints-have-been-woken/, opened 14 Oct. 2016

If any still think veneration of the saints a little thing, here is one more quote from Fr Andrew to consider:

Q: What is the importance of the venation of these saints?

A: The veneration of these saints means the reintegration and reincorporation of Western people into the holiness of the Church. That is spiritually significant, not only personally, but nationally. There can be no salvation for the separated Western world until this happens. Eschatologically, it is part of the gathering in of the Church before the end, the coming together of the Church in heaven, the saints, and the Church on earth, us.

Run to your true homeland, Southron.

Holy Saints of the Isles, pray for us sinners at the South!

Icon at http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/91953.htm, opened 14 Oct. 2016


Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the South!

Anathema to the Union!