Friday, May 30, 2014

‘ . . . mighty men which were of old, men of renown’ -- Genesis 6:4, Part VII

By the mystery of Providence, in the South black and white, Africa and Europe, are united - to use the language of the Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) - ‘indivisibly, inseparably’, even while these two peoples remain for the most part ‘unconfused’ and ‘unchanged’ (Chalcedonian language from Metropolitan Kallistos (Timothy) Ware, The Orthodox Church, New York, Ny.: Penguin, 1997, p. 26).

To England in the seventh century there came, as if to foreshadow what would happen among her descendants in the South, two saints, one from Europe (Greece) and one from Northern Africa, to help establish the Anglo-Saxons in the Christian Faith.  These two, Sts Theodore and Hadrian, were to have a lasting impact on England, as missionaries and shepherds of the faithful, and as encouragers of learning (Robert Boenig, Introduction to Anglo-Saxon Spirituality: Selected Writings, Ny.: Paulist Press, 2000, pgs. 10-1), and thus on us Southerners as well. 

St Theodore’s importance in particular was the subject of a collection of essays published recently in honor of the 1,300th anniversary of his repose in 690 A. D., Archbishop Theodore: Commemorative Studies on His Life and Influence, Michael Lapidge, ed., Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995 (Anglo-Saxon Spirituality, Notes to the Introduction, Note 21, p. 269).

St Bede mentions Sts Hadrian and Theodore often in his Ecclesiastical History, but we will include here only a couple of the more noteworthy sections from his book about them.



 . . .

But the apostolic pope having consulted about that affair, made diligent inquiry for some one to send to be archbishop of the English churches. There was then in the Niridian monastery, which is not far from the city of Naples in Campania, an abbot, called Hadrian, by nation an African, well versed in holy writ, experienced in monastical and ecclesiastical discipline, and excellently skilled both in the Greek and Latin tongues. The pope, sending for him, commanded him to accept of the bishopric, and repair into Britain; he answered, that he was unworthy of so great a dignity, but said he could name another, whose learning and age were fitter for the episcopal office. And having proposed to the pope a certain monk, belonging to a neighbouring monastery of virgins, whose name was Andrew, he was by all that knew him judged worthy of l a bishopric; but bodily infirmity prevented his being advanced to the episcopal station. Then again Hadrian was pressed to accept of the bishopric; but he desired a respite for a time, to see whether he could find another fit to be ordained bishop.

There was at that time in Rome, a monk, called Theodore, well known to Hadrian, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, a man well instructed in worldly and Divine literature, as also in Greek and Latin; of known probity of life, and venerable for age, being sixty-six years old. Hadrian offered him to the pope to be ordained bishop, and prevailed; but upon these conditions, that he should conduct him into Britain . . . .



[A. D. 669]

THEODORE arrived at his church the second year after his consecration, on Sunday, the 27th of May, and held the same twenty-one years, three months, and twenty-six days. Soon after, he visited all the island, wherever the tribes of the Angles inhabited, for he was willingly entertained and heard by all persons; and everywhere attended and assisted by Hadrian, he taught the right rule of life, and the canonical custom of celebrating Easter. It was the first archbishop whom all the English church obeyed. And forasmuch as both of them were, as has been said before, well read both in sacred and in secular literature, they gathered a crowd of disciples, and there daily flowed from them rivers of knowledge to water the hearts of their hearers; and, together with the books of holy writ, they also taught them the arts of ecclesiastical poetry, astronomy, and arithmetic. A testimony of which is, that there are still living at this day some of their scholars, who are as well versed in the Greek and Latin tongues as in their own, in which they were born. Nor were there ever happier times since the English came into Britain; for their kings, being brave men and good Christians, they were a terror to all barbarous nations, and the minds of all men were bent upon the joys of the heavenly kingdom of which they had just heard; and all who desired to be instructed in sacred reading had masters at hand to teach them.

From that time also they began in all the churches of the English to learn sacred music, which till then had been only known in Kent. And, excepting James above-mentioned, the first singing-master in the churches of the Northumbrians was Eddi, surnamed Stephen, invited from Kent by the most reverend Wilfrid, who was the first of the bishops of the English nation that taught the churches of the English the Catholic mode of life.

Theodore, visiting all parts, ordained bishops in proper places, and with their assistance corrected such things as he found faulty. Among the rest, when he upbraided Bishop Chad that he had not been duly consecrated, he, with great humility, answered, "If you know I have not duly received episcopal ordination, I willingly resign the office, for I never thought myself worthy of it; but, though unworthy, in obedience submitted to undertake it." Theodore, hearing his humble answer, said that he should not resign the bishopric, and he himself completed his ordination after the Catholic manner. But at the time when Deusdedit died, and a bishop for the church of Canterbury was by request ordained and sent, Wilfrid was also sent out of Britain into France to be ordained; and because he returned before Theodore, he ordained priests and deacons in Kent till the archbishop should come to his see. Being arrived in the city of Rochester, where the see had been long vacant by the death of Damianus, he ordained a person better skilled in ecclesiastical discipline, and more addicted to simplicity of life than active in worldly affairs. His name was Putta, and he vas extraordinarily skilful in the Roman style of church music, which he had learned from the disciples of the holy Pope Gregory.

 . . .



THE year after that in which Caedwalla died at Rome, that is, 690 after the incarnation of our Lord, Archbishop Theodore, of blessed memory, departed this life, old and full of days, for he was eighty-eight years of age; which number of years he had been wont long before to foretell to his friends that he should live, the same having been revealed to him in a dream. He held the bishopric twenty-two years, and was buried in St. Peter's church, where all the bodies of the bishops of Canterbury are buried. Of whom, as well as of his Companions, of the same degree, it may rightly and truly be said, that their bodies are interred in peace, and their names shall live from generation to generation. For to say all in few words, the English churches received more advantage during the time of his pontificate than ever they had done before. His person, life, age, and death, are plainly described to all that resort thither, by the epitaph on his tomb, consisting of thirty-four heroic verses. The first whereof are these –

Here rests fam'd Theodore, a Grecian name,
Who had o'er England an archbishop's claim;
Happy and blessed, industriously he wrought,
And wholesome precepts to his scholars taught.

The four last are as follow –

And now it was September's nineteenth day,
When, bursting from its ligaments of clay,
His spirit rose to its eternal rest,
And joined in heaven the chorus of the blest.

 . . .

Source:  (Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Book IV, Chapters I and II,, posted December 1997 by Paul Halsall, accessed 30 May 2014; Book V, Chapter VIII,, posted April 1999 by Paul Halsall, accessed 30 May 2014)

Sts Theodore and Hadrian, holy examples of peace and cooperation between races, teachers of piety and all manner of learning - pray to the Lord for us unworthy sinners at the South!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Orthodox Scotland, Orthodox South

Father Geoffrey Korz wrote a remarkable essay on Scotland and Canada - remarkable in that, with only a few changes, it could have been written on the South and Scotland.  For the South shares with Canada a high number of Scottish settlers.  It will be best read in that light, as though it were addressed to us Southerners.

Here are some portions from Fr Geoffrey’s article, ‘Scotland the Brave’:

Hark when the night is falling, hear, hear the pipes are calling,
Loudly and proudly calling, down through the glen.
There where the hills are sleeping, now feel the blood a-leaping,
High as the spirits of the old Highland men.

Towering in gallant fame, Scotland my mountain hame,
High may your proud standards gloriously wave,
Land of my high endeavour, land of the shining river,
Land of my heart for ever, Scotland the brave!
      - Traditional Folk Song

The Cross of Saint Andrew - the blue and white emblem of Scotland's patron saint - is believed to be the oldest continuously used flag in the world. Simple in its design, it has withstood centuries of political and religious turmoil, and remained the standard for Christian Scots, as well as those who have forgotten the reason their banner bears the Cross. (For the record, Saint Andrew was martyred on an X-shaped cross). Like the people for whom it flies, Saint Andrew's Cross has proven its resilience and strength.

The endurance of Saint Andrew's Cross is seen in the presence it still has in Scotland's largest emigree nation - Canada. In a country whose first Prime Minister was a MacDonald, whose first woman Prime Minister was a Campbell, and which boasted no fewer than nine Prime Ministers of Scottish ancestry (only five Prime Ministers were French), it is not a stretch of the imagination to suggest that Scotland still has at least a pint or two of its own running through the bloodstream of Canadian culture. Official ceremonies, academic awards, university names and traditions, along with the pipers who lead their processions - all these have been inherited from the practices of the Celts of Scotland, through their Canadian children.

The Cross of Saint Andrew can be found on five Canadian provincial flags, either within the Union Jack, or in the mirrored image of the flag of Canada's New Scotland, Nova Scotia. Yet those who trace their roots from that chilly isle to this great land do not often read back far enough to discover the essence of Scotland's Celtic roots, roots that reflected the faith of Saint Andrew for nearly one thousand years in a Celtic Church that was vibrant, independent, and fully Orthodox.

For those who entertain new-agey illusions about the Celtic Church, there is bad news: Celtic Christian worship was in most ways very similar to the life of Orthodox parishes today. What is very clear, Celtic Christians had far less in common with the free-wheeling nature worship one might find in certain Protestant or Roman Catholic circles than it did with the spiritual life of Greek monasteries in Byzantium. This shouldn't surprise us: the Greeks and the Celts had the same faith and liturgical life, while the Christian Celts and the modern western confessions, distorted by the Great Schism and the Protestant Reformation, do not.

In his classic book, Liturgy and Ritual of the Celtic Church, F.E. Warren thoroughly outlines this common spiritual inheritance. Concrete examples are numerous. Celtic Christians fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays, the universal observance of the Church in the first millennium. They rejected the claims to universal authority that Popes of Rome often claimed over Church decisions in custom, belief, and practice, and resisted innovative changes to early Church practices, including the Church calendar. The Celts observed a highly ascetical life, strongly shaped by the widespread presence of monasteries, where monks and non-monastics alike would say the services of the Hours on a daily basis.

[Fr Geoffrey goes on to list more of these liturgical similarities, which the reader may find in the original essay (address given below). -- W.G.]

It should not surprise us to find these similarities, since in comparing the Celtic Church to the Church in Byzantium, or to Orthodox Christianity today, we are in fact comparing the Church to itself. The Orthodox Christianity of the Apostles, of the Ecumenical Councils, of the Byzantines, the Slavs, the Arabs, and the Celts - it is one faith, not many. The Celtic Church was astonishingly similar to Orthodox life today - because it was Orthodox.

The inheritance of Saint Andrew, whose proud banner waves in front of many a Presbyterian church in Canada, is not to be found inside these churches. Nor is the bold heart of the Celtic Christians of Scotland to be found at Burns dinners or chip shops or the Lodge of the Scottish Rite. The banner of the Celts is an Orthodox Christian one; it always has been. And it is a banner that flies proudly in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of Canadians, who still await the rediscovery of their own Orthodox Celtic roots, which cannot be found in the western confessions. These confessions of the last thousand years would have been virtually unrecognizable to the Celts of a millennium ago - the same Celtic Christians who would feel right at home in any Orthodox church in North America today.

Canada's first Scottish leader, Prime Minister John A. MacDonald, lies buried in the cemetery of a parish church in Kingston, Ontario, the same building that is home to the Orthodox Community of Saint Gregory of Nyssa. Perhaps it is in such a representation that we can rediscover the heritage of the founders of our own nation, its own enduring and brave Orthodox roots, put down in Celtic lands by the same Orthodox monastic saints who once made pilgrimage across the ocean to our own land. For it is only these roots that will keep Saint Andrew's banner long and gloriously waving - not just in our hearts, but in our lives.

Background note: The St. Andrew's cross is a distinctive shape because the Apostle Andrew, who would later become the patron saint of Scotland, asked that he not be crucified on a cross of the same shape as that on which Jesus Christ was executed. (See the Great Synaxarion of the Orthodox Church, November 30th)

The legend of the birth of the Scottish flag takes place circa AD 832 near Athelstaneford in East Lothian. Angus mac Fergus, King of the Picts, and Eochaidh of Dalriada faced off against the army of Athelstane, King of Northumbria, comprising Angles and Saxons. On the eve of the battle, it is said that the Scots saw the clouds in the evening sky arranged in a formation exactly like that of St. Andrew's cross. The Scots saw this as a harbinger of their victory. When they were victorious the following day, they adopted a white St. Andrew's cross on a field of azure blue as their national standard.

Source:  Orthodox Canada,, 15 August 2007, accessed 28 May 2014.  Reposted at,

(Pictures from the copy of the essay.)

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Christian Knight

‘A part of the Southern heritage which deserves more attention of the serious kind than it has received is expressed by the term chivalry’ (Richard Weaver, The Southern Culture at Bay, 1st ed., Bradford and Core, eds., Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway, 1989, p. 43).

Days like Memorial Day have become little more than thin veils to calculatingly drape over speeches promoting militaristic conquest and bloodshed by officials of the national government in Washington City.  Since theirs is the abuse of military power, it behooves us to understand what the soldier really ought to be doing. 

Mark Hackard has translated an essay by Ivan Ilyin that helps us in this task of uncovering the character and duty of the true Christian knight.  The Southern conception of chivalry, while admirable in many ways, was also corrupted by non-Christian elements that had seeped into it while forming in Western Europe (striving for personal glory and honor, etc.). 

We hope that Mr Ilyin’s essay will help us purge the dross from our own good Southern knightly tradition, helping the Southern States to become worthy in the eyes of God of freedom from the corporate-owned American Empire.  Mr Hackard opens things thusly (continued at the address below):

Ivan Ilyin (1883-1954), the White emigre philosopher who articulated Russian national renewal, shows an essential requirement for the strength of any culture – a dedicated elite committed to serving God and defending its people. Ilyin knew that only through such leadership could a nation recover and flourish, and his essay written a decade after the Russian Civil War confirms this fact with clarity and force. Translated by Mark Hackard. 


Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Through all the great discord of our days, amidst catastrophe, tragedy and loss, in disputes and temptations, we must remember one thing and live by it: the maintenance and propagation of a spirit of knightly service. First and foremost within ourselves, and then within our children, our friends and the like-minded. We should protect this spirit as something sacred; we must strengthen it in those who trust us, those who confide in us, and those who seek our direction. This is what we must advocate to our leaders and pastors, insisting and even demanding it. For this spirit is as the air and oxygen of Russian national salvation, and where it would run out, there would immediately set in an atmosphere of rot and decay, overt or hidden Bolshevism.

The decades we have experienced are such that men accustomed to holding indifferent and lukewarm positions, unable or unwilling to fortify themselves and make a decision, have already had their judgment signed in advance. They are condemned humiliation and the mire, and their vital forces will be used by the tempters of this world. Everywhere that there is no will, the will of the sons of perdition shall take the field. Everywhere that the conscience is silent and greed divides the soul in two, Bolshevism already conquers, and everywhere that the crude lust for power of some irritates the insatiable ambition of others, there is prepared seduction, disintegration and the triumph of the enemy. Everywhere that the spirit of chivalry weakens or disappears, disaster awaits us. So it stands now, and so shall it be henceforth.

At whatever post a man may stand, this duty (if only the cause is not in itself shameful) has its idea giving meaning to his cause, consecrating it not as an occupation, but as service, service to God’s Unified Cause on earth. In distinction from the subject himself, having his own personal interests, sympathies and desires, God’s cause has its Transcendent paths of necessity and exaction. And so man’s personal interests and the Transcendent interest of his Cause at any moment can part and place him before the temptation of self-interest. At any moment, a man can find himself in the position of a mercenary, not knowing upon what course to decide, or the position of a traitor who prefers his interest to the Transcendent. The spirit of chivalry is comprised of steadfast loyalty to the Transcendent path.

 . . .

Source:  ‘The Knightly Spirit’,, posted 23 May 2014, accessed 24 May 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014

‘ . . . mighty men which were of old, men of renown’ -- Genesis 6:4, Part VI

St Bede writes also of two other holy women, Sts Etheldrida and Sexburga, in his Ecclesiastical History.  He was so inspired by St Etheldrida’s life that he composed a hymn to honor her, which is included below.

Southern women have often been noted for their inward strength; these two holy women, St Hilda (mentioned earlier), and others like them help us see what is truly possible for women in the South today, who are their kinswomen, if only they would put away the passing vanities of this dying world.



[A.D. 660]

KING EGFRID took to wife, Etheldrida, the daughter of Anna, king of the East Angles, of whom mention has been often made; a man very religious, and in all respects renowned for his inward disposition and actions. She had before been given in marriage to another, viz. to Tonbert, chief of the Southern Girvii; but he died soon after he had received her, and she was given to the aforesaid king. Though she lived with him twelve years, yet she preserved the glory of perfect virginity, as I was informed by Bishop Wilfrid, of blessed memory, of whom I inquired, because some questioned the truth thereof; and he told me that he was an undoubted witness of her virginity, forasmuch as Egfrid promised he would give many lands and much money, if he could persuade the queen to consent to pay the marriage duty, for he knew the queen loved no man so much as himself; and it is not to be doubted that the same might in one instance take place in our age, which true histories tell us happened several times in former ages, through the assistance of the same Lord who has promised to continue with us unto the end of the world; for the miraculous circumstance that her flesh, being buried, could not suffer corruption, is a token that she had not been defiled by familiarity with man.

She had. long requested. the king that he would permit her to lay, aside worldly cares, and to serve only the true King, Christ, in a monastery; and having at length with difficulty prevailed, she went as a nun into the monastery of the Abbess Ebba, who was aunt to King Egfrid, at the place called the city Coludi, having taken the veil from the hands of the aforesaid Bishop Wilfrid; but a year after she was herself made abbess in the country called Ely, where, having built a monastery, she began, by works and examples of a heavenly life, to be the virgin mother of very many virgins dedicated to God. It is reported of her, that from the time of her entering into the monastery, she never wore any linen but only woolen garments, and would rarely wash in a hot bath, unless just before any of the great festivals, as Easter , Whitsuntide, and the Epiphany, and then she did it last of all, after having, with the assistance of those about her, first washed the other servants of God there present; besides, she seldom did eat above once a day, excepting on the great solemnities, or some other urgent occasion, unless some considerable distemper obliged her. From the time of matins she continued in the church at prayer till it was day; some also say, that by the spirit of prophecy, she, in the presence of all, not only foretold the pestilence of which she was to die, but also the number of those that should be then snatched away out of her monastery. She was taken to our Lord, in the midst of her flock, seven years after she had been made abbess; and, as she had ordered, was buried among them, in such a manner as she had died, in a wooden coffin.

She was succeeded in the office of abbess by her sister Sexberga, who had been wife to Erconbert, king of Kent; who, when her sister had been buried sixteen years, thought fit to take up her bones, and, putting them into a new coffin, to translate them into the church. Accordingly she ordered some of the brothers to provide a stone to make a coffin of; they accordingly went on board ship, because the country of Ely is on every side encompassed with the sea or marshes, and has no large stones, and came to a small abandoned city, not far from thence, which, in the language of the English, is called Grantchester, and presently, near the city walls, they found a white marble coffin, most beautifully wrought, and neatly covered with a lid of the same sort of stone. Concluding therefore that God had prospered their journey, they returned thanks to Him, and carried it to the monastery.

The body of the holy virgin and spouse of Christ, when her grave was opened, being brought into sight, was found as free from corruption as if she had died and been buried on that very day; as the aforesaid Bishop Wilfrid, and many others that know it, can testify. But the physician, Cynefrid, who was present at her death, and when she was taken up out of the grave, was wont of more certain knowledge to relate, that in her sickness she had a very great swelling under her jaw. "And I was ordered," said he, "to lay open that swelling, to let out the noxious matter in it, which I did, and she seemed to be somewhat more easy for two days, so that many thought she might recover from her distemper; but the third day the former pains returning, she was soon snatched out of the world, and exchanged all pain and death for everlasting life and health. And when so many years after her bones were to be taken out of the grave, a pavilion being spread over it, all the congregation of brothers were on the one side, and of sisters on the other, standing about it singing, and the abbess, with a few, being gone to take up and wash the bones, on a sudden we heard the abbess within loudly cry out, ' Glory be to the name of the Lord.' Not long after they called me in, opening the door of the pavilion, where I found the body of the holy virgin taken out of the grave and laid on a bed, as if it had been asleep; then taking off the veil from the face, they also showed the incision which I had made, healed up; so that, to my great astonishment, instead of the open gaping wound with which she had been buried, there then appeared only an extraordinarily slender scar.

"Besides, all the linen cloths in which the body had been buried, appeared entire and as fresh as if they had been that very day wrapped about her chaste limbs." It is reported, that when she was much troubled with the aforesaid swelling and pain in her jaw, she was much pleased with that sort of distemper, and wont to say, " I know that I deservedly bear the weight of my sickness on my neck, for I remember, when I was very young, I bore there the needless weight of jewels; and therefore I believe the Divine goodness would have me endure the pain in my neck, that I may be absolved from the guilt of my needless levity, having now, instead of gold and precious stones, a red swelling and burning on my neck." It happened also that by the touch of that linen, devils were expelled from bodies possessed, and other distempers were sometimes cured; and the coffin she was first buried in is reported to have cured some of distempers in the eyes, who, praying with their heads touching that coffin, presently were delivered from the pain or dimness in their eyes. They washed the virgin's body, and having clothed it in new garments, brought it into the church, and laid it in the coffin that had been brought, where it is held in great veneration to this day. The coffin was found in a wonderful manner, as fit for the virgin's body as if it had been made purposely for her, and the place for the head particularly cut, exactly fit for her head, and shaped to a nicety.

Ely is in the province of the East Angles, a country of about six hundred families, in the nature of an island, enclosed, as has been said, either with marshes or waters, and therefore it has its name from the great plenty of eels taken in those marches; there the aforesaid servant of Christ desired to have a monastery, because, as we have before observed, she was descended from that same province of the East Angles.



[A.D. 660]

I THINK it proper to insert in this history a hymn of virginity, which I composed in elegiac verse several years ago, in praise and honour of the same queen and spouse of Christ; and therefore truly a queen, because the spouse Of Christ; and to imitate the method of the Holy Scripture, in whose history many poetical pieces are inserted, which are known to be composed in metre.

Hail, Triune Power, who rulest every age,
Assist the numbers which my pen engage.
Let Maro wars in loftier numbers sing,
I sound the praises of our heavenly King.
Chaste is my verse, nor Helen's rape I write;
Light tales like these, but prove the mind as light.
See I from on high the God descends, confined
In Mary's womb, to rescue lost mankind.
Behold I a spotless maid a God brings forth,
A God is born, who gave e'en nature birth I
The virgin­choir the mother­maid resound,
And chaste themselves, her praises shout around.
Her bright example numerous vot'ries raise,
Tread spotless paths, and imitate her ways.
The blessed Agatha and Eulalia trust
Sooner to flames than far more dangerous lust.
Tecula and chaste Euphemia overcame
The fear of beasts to save a virgin name.
Agnes and sweet Cecilia, joyful maids,
Smile while the pointed sword their breasts invades.
Triumphing joy attends the peaceful soul,
Where heat, nor rain, nor wishes mean control.
Thus Etheldrida, pure from sensual crime,
Bright shining star I arose to bless our time.
Born of a regal race, her sire a king,
More noble honour to her lord shall bring.
A queen her name, her hand a sceptre rears,
But greater glories wait above the spheres.
What man wouldst thou desire? See Christ is made
Her spouse, her blessed Redeemer weds the maid.
While you attend the heavenly Mother's train,
Thou shalt be mother of a heavenly reign.
The holy maid who twelve years sat a queen,
A cloister'd nun devote to God was seen.
Noted for pious deeds, her spotless soul
Left the vile world, and soar'd above the pole.
Sixteen Novembers since was the blest maid
Entomb'd, whose flesh no putrid damps invade.
Thy grace, O Christ I for in the coffin's found
No tainted vest wrapping the corpse around.
The swelling dropsy, and dire atrophy,
A pale disease from the blest vestments fly.
Rage fires the fiend, who whilom Eve betray'd,
While shouting angels hail the glorious maid.
See I wedded to her God, what joy remains,
In earth, or heaven, see ! with her God she reigns !
Behold I the spouse, the festal torches shine,
He comes! behold I what joyful gifts are thine !
Thou a new song on the sweet harp shalt sing,
A hymn of praise to thy celestial King.
None from the flock of the throned Lamb shall move,
Whom grateful passion bind, and heavenly love

Source:  Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Book IV, Chapters XIX and XX,, posted December 1997 by Paul Halsall, accessed 23 May 2014

Our holy mothers Etheldrida and Sexburga, pray to God for us, thy sinful children at the South!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

America: The Last Best Hope of the World?

If one were a servant of Antichrist, perhaps this would be true.  For wherever one looks, whether within its borders or outside them, one finds abominations (there are still some exceptions to this among the various States, but they seem to be diminishing) - rising violence and callousness towards others, abnormal sexual practices, drug use, child killing and abuse, greed, and so on.  Yet in the midst of all this, the pride of Americans in their own supposed righteousness grows ever greater. 

Especially is this antichristian spirit manifested where the American Empire has launched its wars since the ‘War on Terror’ began in 2001.  That war would be better called a War OF Terror against Christians, a point well made by Michael Snyder in this report (bolding in original):

When the U.S. military “liberates” a nation, shouldn’t it result in more liberty, freedom and peace for the people living there?  Instead, we find just the opposite.  In fact, in every single case since 9/11, when the U.S. military has “liberated” a nation it has resulted in the persecution of Christians in that country becoming much worse.

In areas where we spent hundreds of billions of dollars and where thousands of precious American lives were sacrificed, churches are regularly being bombed, Christians are being brutally beheaded, and laws have been passed to make it illegal for a Muslim to convert to Christianity.  If we were not even able to provide the most basic of liberties and freedoms to the people living in those nations, what in the world did we actually accomplish by “liberating” them?

Just look at what has happened in Afghanistan.  We have been at war in Afghanistan for more than a dozen years, and yet things are so bad for Christians in that country at this point that there is not a single church left

The supposedly “moderate” Karzai government installed by the U.S. upholds many of the draconian laws enforced by the Taliban—including the apostasy law, fiercely persecuting those who seek to convert to Christianity—and, in 2011, under U.S. auspices, it destroyed Afghanistan’s last Christian church.

We find a similar story in Iraq.  It is estimated that before the invasion, there were up to 2 million Christians living in Iraq.  Now that number is down to less than 450,000, and it is falling fast.

 . . .

Let there be no doubt:  The secular Puritan messiah nation of America is carrying out the will not of God but of His enemy the devil in this persecution of Christ’s very own holy, divine-human Body, His Church, (a re-crucifixion of Christ, as Father Andrew Phillips has put it) from Libya to Serbia to Syria to Afghanistan (and one may rightly expect similar things to begin happening in the Ukraine if someone doesn’t restrain the E.U.-u.S. influence there). 

If anyone in this country desires to do good, let him seek a peaceful way to weaken this power of the American federal government to harm others overseas.  Has the time come for the breakup of what has become another brutal, godless (Soviet) Union?

Monday, May 19, 2014

‘Don’t Give Up Your Rifle!’ and Other Lessons from Serbia’s Timok Rebellion of 1883

Serbia’s situation in the latter half of the 19th century resembles ours today within the American Empire:  Two political parties, supposedly different but at their heart tending toward the same centralized, absolute, authoritarian goal; a new third party formed from, and growing because of, the discontent in the hinterland with the two establishment parties; and the attempt by those parties to destroy their new rival.  The Tea Party is thus far a weak shadow of Serbia’s manlier Radical Party (and thus perhaps a better comparison would be with the Southern National Congress, Texas Nationalist Movement, Alaska Independence Party, etc.). 

Howbeit, as the political rebellion against Washington City and the God-hating, corporate, transnational elite who control it grows in the [u]nited States, we would do very well to pay attention to how Serbia’s similar political rebellion, the Timok Rebellion of 1883, unfolded.  The background, which the reader is encouraged to seek out at the site below, is covered in the preceding part of this essay by Fr Matthew; as we want to focus here on the Rebellion itself and its aftermath, we quote only from the latter half.

 . . .

As this paper has shown thus far, it was a very complex set of causes, though, in a very general way, can be reduced to the age old fight between a conservative peasant and a government–with its own prestige at heart–willing to force modernization on a peasantry, uniformly called “backward” as a rhetorical device to justify the liquidation of peasant tradition.

Peasant political ideology in the Slavic world, prior to their being dragooned into the army or into the industrial economy was pure national anarchism. It was the stress on the religious and ethnic component of identity, with a great deal of hostility to the state which, certainly in the 1880s was anti- national, seeking support from banks in Paris and Vienna rather than from internal sources (in fact, this writer is willing to make the claim that Liberals and Conservatives in Serbian politics in the 1880s were two factions to an extent controlled by French and Austrian finance capital respectively). Orthodoxy and ethnicity (itself heavily religious in tone) was the basic sense of identity of the Serbian peasant. But this included the more amorphous ideas of family liberty through the zadrugy, regional autonomy and the concept of a national militia rather than a professional army. All of this was violated in the process of the rebellion.

The efficient cause of the fighting was indeed the attempt to disarm the peasantry. After the army’s battles with the peasants sporadically before, there were many, Milan at the head (after the attempt on his life) who no longer trusted the peasant classes. These were the descendants of the haiduks– decentralized bands of rebels against the Ottoman occupation–decendants of a people who spent the last 300 years living a life below the radar of the arrogant Islamic occupiers. Their entire life was one of resistance and the constant readiness for battle. They, to put it mildly, were an extremely difficult group to control. The Radical idea was very simple: does it make any sense to have fought this long and hard for independence only to hand over Serbia to Parisian or Viennese bankers and their puppets? There was no peasant that did not understand such a simple yet profound question.

The excuse for disarming the peasants was that the new Mauser rifles were too advanced for the peasantry to store and maintain. Hence, the army was to confiscate the old rifles, then keep the new Mauser’s at state magazines. Of course, no one took that seriously, because the lack of technical expertise to maintain a Mauser had nothing to do with confiscating the older weapons. The peasantry realized quickly what this truly was: Milan’s attempt to keep the Radicals out of power forever by disarming the peasantry in the Timok valley, always the stronghold of rebellion, Orthodoxy and Radicalism. Stokes writes:

Under the Ottomans the Serbs could not bear arms as a rule, so when the First and Second Uprisings expelled the Ottomans the ordinary Serbian make overcompensated, coming to feel by 1850 that a man was undressed in public if he did not appear with a weapon. The widespread distribution of arms during the Ottoman wars did nothing to lessen the sense that the rifle was man’s true support (281-2)

This writer chafes at Stokes’ condescending “overcompensating” remark, since she skillfully explains precisely why this was not an overcompensation, but an aspect of Serbian life, dictated by the humiliation of Ottoman control, and being called a “raya,” or “cattle” by the Ottoman authorities. As in Montenegro, the rifle was a symbol of independence against imperialism, and more than a symbol, the very reality of the fact that independence only comes with bloodshed, and there is nothing inherently wrong or “evil” about this. It remains, however, a concept foreign to the modern schoolmarm or university hack.

Refusing to listen to pleas for “calm” from the bourgeois politicians, the eastern Serbs quickly and effectively organized. Shooting the men sent to confiscate what they considered, though 200 years of fighting, to be their birthright, a rifle, Milan dedicated his reign to destroying these peasants at any cost. Under the older concept of the popular militia (as opposed to a standing army), the peasant kept his rifle at home. He was to bring it to the proper muster in time of war, with food and ammunition. It was this that drove the Turks out of Europe. Thus, there was a deeper situation here, one that took place in nearly all European nations at one time or another, the idea that a popular militia is just that–popular. It cannot be used against the interests of the ethnos since it was the ethnos, at least when mobilizing for war. The new professional army, however, proved its mettle and fought against the peasantry. One might even say that this rebellion was in fact an all out civil war, one between the old popular militia with out of date weapons, and the new standing army, financed directly by Viennese bankers. It is worth noting that local priests were some of the most militant of the leaders of the popular militia (Stokes, 285). She also mentions how jittery Milan was, calling the newly minted officer corps to his chambers, telling them how terrible their position would be under the Radical “rabble.”

Unfortunately, the rebellion was suppressed, largely because the troops stood firm, and, importantly, because it was geographically isolated in eastern Serbia. Like the defeat of Pugachev in Russia, the Jacobites in England, Shay’s Rebellion in America, and even the American War Between the States, the victory of the central state meant many things. Chief among them were:

·                          The continued and unabated indebtedness of the agricultural classes, which was particular acute in Serbia. There is an exact correlation between the penetration of the state into the Serbian hinterland (a long and slow process) and peasant indebtedness. Penetration of the state meant penetration of financial capital, and that penetration meant the creation of centralized agricultural units, and that meant the destruction of the stable, self-reliant and liberty-loving zadruga system. The zadruga had few supporters in Belgrade, and none in Vienna. Only in Russia did this system receive at least token support.

·                          The increasing centralization of political power, should be considered a given, since this is one of the major causes of the above rebellions. However one slices it historically or morally, centralization must mean, by its very constitution, the rule of elites, and that those elites will develop interests of themselves and the state, separate from the people they are supposed to rule. Though it is rarely articulated in this way, this concern is one of the central ideas of populist rebellion throughout history. So far, the rebels have never been wrong.

·                          The demoralization of the truly patriotic forces of the nation. This is subtle, but important. In Serbia, the Radicals, widely seen to have “led” the rebellion (and idea highly exaggerated), fell to pieces, and eventually, after the reign of Milan had come to an end, under the charismatic Nikola Pascic, the Radicals were to be reborn, but as a party of the city. Once the rebellion failed, the radicals thought that only through institutional reform (rather than direct peasant agitation) can Serbia be saved. It is the Radical position to this day.

·                          After Timok, Serbia became an increasingly centralized political entity, eventually becoming part of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia is a result of the failure of the Timok rebellion. Without the defeat of the rebellious peasant zadrugy, the increasing centralization and isolation of the ruling classes would have been impossible.

·                          Lastly, the destruction of the peasant economy and the introduction of centralized agricultural units was a direct result of the Timok rebellion. As all the literature shows, the penetration of capital into the countryside through state power meant the destruction of the zadruga, the Serbian family and the local, self-sufficient local economy. Of course, this in turn leads to the dislocation of peasant populations and the disruption of peasant traditional life and the centrality of Orthodoxy. Without Timok, Tito could never have been successful, and Yugoslavia could never have come into being. It took the destruction of the traditional peasant way of life in order to permit these forces to emerge and to become dominant.

By way of conclusion, it might be said, with some trepidation, that world history in the modern era is based upon the battle between peasant tradition, marked by the primacy of religion, family, decentralization, agriculture and self-sufficiency, and that of modernity, marked by centralization, industry, schedules, oligarchy, democracy and ideology. This basic pattern is replicated in the American Civil War, Shay’s rebellion, Pugachev and Razin in Russia, the Pilgrimage of Grace in England, the Gaelic rebellions in Ireland, Cossack resistance in Ukraine, and nearly all peasant religious, ethnic and anarchist rebellions around the world. It is one and the same battle. The victory of the forces of modernization comes about through better weaponry and scientific leadership methods over the primal rage of the exploited peasants. Furthermore, in the 20th century, legitimate peasant movements, such as in Latin America and south Asia, have been hijacked by Marxist revolutionaries in the name of the Enlightenment. It is the unholy alliance of modern science, ideology, economic theory, secularism and modern global capitalism that has destroyed the peasantry, and dragooned what’s left into the factory. Modernity is one large human rights abuse.

Source:  Fr Matthew Raphael Johnson,, posted 5 Dec. 2006, accessed 30 April 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014

‘ . . . mighty men which were of old, men of renown’ -- Genesis 6:4, Part V

It is time now to say something of the holy women in St Bede’s Ecclesiastical History.  St Hilda shall be first.



[A.D. 680]

IN the year of the incarnation of our Lord 680, the most religious servant of Christ, Hilda, abbess of the monastery that is called Streaneshalch, as above­mentioned, after having performed many heavenly works on earth, passed from thence to receive the rewards of the heavenly life, on the 17th of November, at the age of sixty­six years; the first thirty­three of which she spent living most nobly in the secular habit; and more nobly dedicated the remaining half to our Lord in a monastic life. For she was nobly born, being the daughter of Hereric, nephew to King Edwin, with which king she also embraced the faith and mysteries of Christ, at the preaching of Paulinus, the first bishop of the Northumbrians, of blessed memory, and preserved the same undefiled till she attained to the sight of him in heaven.

Resolving to quit the secular habit, and to serve him alone, she withdrew into the province of the East Angles, for she was allied to the king; being desirous to pass over from thence into France, to forsake her native country and all she had, and so live a stranger for our Lord in the monastery of Cale, that she might with more case attain to the eternal kingdom in heaven; because her sister Heresuid ' mother to Aldwulf, king of the East Angles, at that time living in the same monastery, under regular discipline, was waiting for her eternal reward. Being led by her example, she continued a whole year in the aforesaid province, with the design of going abroad; afterwards, Bishop Aidan being recalled home, he gave her the land of one family on the north side of the river Wear; where for a year she also led a monastic life, with very few companions.

After this she was made abbess in the monastery called Heruteu, which monastery had been founded, not long before, by the religious servant of Christ, Heiu, who is said to have been the first woman that in the province of the Northumbrians took upon her the habit and life of a nun, being consecrated by Bishop Aidan; but she, soon after she had founded that monastery, went away to the city of Calcacestir, and there fixed her dwelling. Hilda, the servant of Christ, being set over that monastery, began immediately to reduce all things to a regular system, according as she had been instructed by learned men; for Bishop Aidan, and other religious men that knew her and loved her, frequently visited and diligently instructed her, because of her innate wisdom and inclination to the service of God.

When she had for some years governed this monastery, wholly intent upon establishing a regular life, it happened that she also undertook either to build or to arrange a monastery in the place called Streaneshalch [Whitby], which work she industriously performed; for she put this monastery under the same regular discipline as she had done the former; and taught there the strict observance of justice, piety, chastity, and other virtues, and particularly of peace and charity; so that, after the example of the primitive church, no person was there rich, and none poor, all being in common to all, and none having any property. Her prudence was so great, that not only indifferent persons, but even kings and princes, as occasion offered, asked and received her advice; she obliged those who were under her direction to attend so much to reading of the Holy Scriptures, and to exercise themselves so much in works of justice, that many might be there found fit for ecclesiastical duties, and to serve at the altar.

In short, we afterwards saw five bishops taken out Of that monastery, and all of them men of singular merit and sanctity, whose names were Bosa, Hedda, Oftfor, John, and Wilfrid. We have above taken notice, that the first of them was consecrated bishop at York; of the second, it is to be observed that he was appointed bishop of Dorchester. Of the two last we shall speak hereafter, as they were consecrated: the was bishop of Hagulstad, the second of the church of York; of the third, we will here take notice that, having applied himself to the reading and observation of the Scriptures in both the monasteries of Hilda, at length, being desirous to attain to greater perfection, he went into Kent, to Archbishop Theodore, of blessed memory; where having spent some more time in sacred studies, he also resolved to go to Rome, which, in those days, was reckoned of great moment : returning thence into Britain, he took his way into the province of the Wiccii, where King Osric then ruled, and continued there a long time, preaching the word of faith, and making himself an example of good life to all that saw and heard him. At that time, Bosel, the bishop of that province, laboured under such weakness of body, that he could not perform the episcopal functions; for which reason, this Oftfor was, by universal consent, chosen bishop in his stead, and by order of King Ethelred, consecrated by Bishop Wilfrid, of blessed memory, who was then bishop of the Midland Angles, because Archbishop Theodore was dead, and no other bishop ordained in his place. Before the aforesaid man of God, Bosel, Tatfrid, a most learned and industrious man, and of excellent ability, had been chosen bishop there, from the same abbess's monastery, but had been snatched away by an untimely death, before he could be ordained.

Thus this servant of Christ, Abbess Hilda, whom all that knew her called Mother, for her singular piety and grace, was not only an example of good life, to those that lived in her monastery, but afforded occasion of amendment and salvation to many who lived at a distance, to whom the fame was brought of her industry and virtue; for it was necessary that the dream which her mother, Bregusuit, had, during her infancy, should be fulfilled. At the time that her husband, Hereric, lived in banishment, under Cerdic, king of the Britons, where he was also poisoned, she fancied, in a dream, that she was seeking for him most carefully, and could find no sign of him anywhere; but, after having used all her industry to seek him, she found a most precious jewel under her garment, which, whilst she was looking on it very attentively, cast such a light as spread itself throughout all Britain; which dream was brought to pass in her daughter that we speak of, whose life was a bright example, not only to herself, but to all who desired to live well.

When she had governed this monastery many years, it pleased Him who has made such merciful provision for our salvation, to give her holy soul the trial of a long sickness, to the end that, according to the apostle's example, her virtue might be perfected in infirmity. Falling into a fever, she fell into a violent heat, and was afflicted with the same for six years continually; during all which time she never failed either to return thanks to her Maker, or publicly and privately to instruct the flock committed to her charge; for by her own example she admonished all persons to serve God dutifully in perfect health, and always to return thanks to Him in adversity, or bodily infirmity. In the seventh year of her sickness, the distemper turning inwards, she approached her last day, and about cock-crowing, having received the holy communion to further her on her way, and called together the servants of Christ that were within the same monastery, she admonished them to preserve evangelical peace among themselves, and with all others; and as she was making her speech, she joyfully saw death approaching, or if I may speak in the words of our Lord, passed from death to life.

That same night it pleased Almighty God, by a manifest vision, to make known her death in another monastery, at a distance from hers, which she had built that same year, and is called Hackness. There was in that monastery, a certain nun called Begu, who, having dedicated her virginity to God, had served Him upwards of thirty years in monastical conversation. This nun, being then in the dormitory of the sisters, on a sudden heard the well known sound of a bell in the air, which used to awake and call them to prayers, when any one of them was taken out of this world, and opening her eyes, as she thought, she saw the top of the house open, and a strong light pour in from above; looking earnestly upon that light, she saw the soul of the aforesaid servant of God in that same light, attended and conducted to heaven by angels. Then awaking, and seeing the other sisters lying round about her, she perceived that what she had seen was either in a dream or a vision; and rising immediately in a great fright, she ran to the virgin who then presided in the monastery instead of the abbess, and whose name was Frigyth, and, with many tears and sighs, told her that the Abbess Hilda, mother of them all, had departed this life, and had in her sight ascended to eternal bliss, and to the company of the inhabitants of heaven, with a great light, and with angels conducting her. Frigyth having heard it, awoke all the sisters, and calling them to the church, admonished them to pray and sing psalms for her soul; which they did during the remainder of the night; and at break of day, the brothers came with news of her death, from the place where she had died. They answered that they knew it before, and then related how and when they had heard it, by which it appeared that her death had been revealed to them in a vision the very same hour that the others said she had died. Thus it was by Heaven happily ordained, that when some saw her departure out of this worId, the others should be acquainted with her admittance into the spiritual life which is eternal. These monasteries are about thirteen miles distant from each other.

It is also reported, that her death was, in a vision, made known the same night to one of the holy virgins who loved her most passionately, in the same monastery where the said servant of God died. This nun saw her soul ascend to heaven in the company of angels; and this she declared, the very same hour that it happened, to those servants of Christ that were with her; and awakened them to pray for her soul, even before the rest of the congregation had heard of her death. The truth of which was known to the whole monastery in the morning. This same nun was at that time with some other servants of Christ, in the remotest part of the monastery, where the women newly converted were wont to be upon trial, till they were regularly instructed, and taken into the society of the congregation (Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Book IV, Chapter XXIII,, posted December 1997 by Paul Halsall, accessed 16 May 2014).

Our holy mother St Hilda, pray to God for us sinful Southrons, thy little wayward children!

(Icon appears at this web page: