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folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons

dianavan 28 Mar 04 - 09:46 PM
wysiwyg 28 Mar 04 - 10:25 PM
wysiwyg 28 Mar 04 - 10:34 PM
Amos 28 Mar 04 - 10:38 PM
dianavan 28 Mar 04 - 10:53 PM
wysiwyg 28 Mar 04 - 11:12 PM
dianavan 28 Mar 04 - 11:47 PM
GUEST,freda 29 Mar 04 - 12:07 AM
Mark Clark 29 Mar 04 - 12:17 AM
Padre 29 Mar 04 - 12:22 AM
Amos 29 Mar 04 - 12:24 AM
dianavan 29 Mar 04 - 12:51 AM
Mark Clark 29 Mar 04 - 02:03 AM
Joe Offer 29 Mar 04 - 03:24 AM
Ellenpoly 29 Mar 04 - 03:38 AM
George Papavgeris 29 Mar 04 - 04:07 AM
George Papavgeris 29 Mar 04 - 04:16 AM
Ellenpoly 29 Mar 04 - 06:31 AM
Deckman 29 Mar 04 - 06:44 AM
freda underhill 29 Mar 04 - 07:12 AM
breezy 29 Mar 04 - 07:24 AM
wysiwyg 29 Mar 04 - 09:41 AM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 29 Mar 04 - 10:53 AM
Mark Clark 29 Mar 04 - 11:08 AM
wysiwyg 29 Mar 04 - 11:22 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 29 Mar 04 - 01:27 PM
The Walrus 29 Mar 04 - 04:12 PM
Mark Clark 29 Mar 04 - 08:34 PM
dianavan 29 Mar 04 - 08:59 PM
Stephen R. 29 Mar 04 - 10:51 PM
Peter Kasin 30 Mar 04 - 01:22 AM
Joe Offer 30 Mar 04 - 02:22 AM
breezy 30 Mar 04 - 04:13 AM
Micca 30 Mar 04 - 05:25 AM
The Walrus 30 Mar 04 - 10:03 AM
Mark Clark 30 Mar 04 - 11:02 PM
Peter Kasin 31 Mar 04 - 02:04 AM
Mark Clark 31 Mar 04 - 02:17 PM
GUEST,Mark Keriotis 31 Mar 04 - 05:46 PM
dianavan 01 Apr 04 - 02:34 AM
Roger the Skiffler 01 Apr 04 - 03:19 AM
Mark Clark 01 Apr 04 - 11:17 AM
George Papavgeris 01 Apr 04 - 11:30 AM
George Papavgeris 01 Apr 04 - 11:39 AM
GUEST,Mark Keriotis 01 Apr 04 - 02:01 PM
Uncle Jaque 01 Apr 04 - 03:43 PM
GUEST,Mark Keriotis 01 Apr 04 - 07:54 PM
Stephen R. 02 Apr 04 - 12:07 AM
LadyJean 02 Apr 04 - 12:32 AM
dianavan 02 Apr 04 - 12:33 AM
dianavan 02 Apr 04 - 03:57 AM
Uncle Jaque 03 Apr 04 - 01:34 AM
Uncle Jaque 03 Apr 04 - 01:39 AM
Uncle Jaque 03 Apr 04 - 01:44 AM
GUEST,Mark Keriotis 03 Apr 04 - 02:15 PM
George Papavgeris 03 Apr 04 - 02:48 PM
Uncle Jaque 03 Apr 04 - 06:29 PM
Stephen R. 03 Apr 04 - 11:23 PM
GUEST,Mark Keriotis 04 Apr 04 - 01:20 AM
dianavan 04 Apr 04 - 03:13 AM
Stephen R. 04 Apr 04 - 10:02 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Apr 04 - 02:14 PM
Mark Clark 04 Apr 04 - 04:24 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Apr 04 - 05:40 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Apr 04 - 05:47 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Apr 04 - 06:07 PM
GUEST,emmanuel 22 Apr 04 - 03:40 AM
George Papavgeris 22 Apr 04 - 07:46 AM
dianavan 22 Apr 04 - 10:36 AM
George Papavgeris 22 Apr 04 - 12:28 PM
GUEST,emmanuel 22 Apr 04 - 07:13 PM
dianavan 22 Apr 04 - 07:27 PM
Uncle Jaque 22 Apr 04 - 11:14 PM
Mark Clark 23 Apr 04 - 12:42 AM
dianavan 23 Apr 04 - 03:47 AM
GUEST 23 Apr 04 - 02:58 PM
Stephen R. 24 Apr 04 - 08:48 AM
Mark Clark 24 Apr 04 - 03:10 PM
dianavan 25 Apr 04 - 12:25 AM
GUEST,Volgodon 11 Nov 07 - 08:24 AM
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Subject: BS: greek orthodox icons
From: dianavan
Date: 28 Mar 04 - 09:46 PM

Not far from my mom's place between Phoenix and Tucson is a Greek Orthodox Monastery called St. Anthony's. I recently visited this place which was built 10 years ago and covers about 7 acres. I was given a long, dark skirt, a white blouse and a scarf before I was permitted to enter. It was amazing! Every square inch was a work of art; a gift to God. They are totally into icons. Encouraged me to take pictures.

I know nothing about this religion. I conversed with two of the monks and they offered me the most delicious peanut butter cookies I have ever eaten in my whole life. I think I must have stood a little too close at one point because one of the monks literally jumped backwards. Maybe it was peanut butter breath but I think it was because I flipped my braids over my shoulder when I noticed they were peaking out from under the scarf.

A wonderfully strange experience.

d


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Subject: RE: BS: greek orthodox icons
From: wysiwyg
Date: 28 Mar 04 - 10:25 PM

My husband knows quite a bit. Also there are books and websites about icongraphy. This Christian denomination has a fascinating history. Greek & Eastern (russian) Orthodox are parts of the Byzantine Church that was, at one time, a world center of Christianity.

Icons are about telling stories and helping worshippers focus their thoughts and reflections as they pray-- one does not pray TO them as much as one prays while thinking on them. Think of them, in terms of story, as filling the same functions stained glass windows fill-- originally, these provided pictorial teaching aids for a largely nonliterate populace.

We have a recently-commissioned icon in our chapel of the Russian sort. We did a brochure explaining the imagery, that I could send you along with a picture of it. Also, I have a boatload of beautiful .JPEGs from various websites, and there is a Russian Orthodox (mostly) calendar put out each year with frameable prints of icons, called ICONE I believe-- 12 icons of a large (18 x 24 inches???) size. PM me if you want me to track it down. Or PM me an email address and I can send the brochure text and a digital photo, and my .jpg's.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: BS: greek orthodox icons
From: wysiwyg
Date: 28 Mar 04 - 10:34 PM

Oh wow!

CLICK ME

Multimedia!

Iconograms!

LOTS of icons!

~Susan


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Subject: RE: BS: greek orthodox icons
From: Amos
Date: 28 Mar 04 - 10:38 PM

I met an old monk in the hills of one of the Greek Islands, although I cannot place which one, who had spent his entire life carving a pair of giant doors meant for his local church. They were perhaps 10 feet high and perhaps six feet wide and covered -- every square inch -- with intricate carved inmages of lives of saints and miracles and what-not. He was still doing them, and he was in his eighties, and he had done nothing else with his entire life. But they were magnificent.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: greek orthodox icons
From: dianavan
Date: 28 Mar 04 - 10:53 PM

Amos -

Thats what impressed me. The fact that you could give your entire life to art and to God at the same time. When you focus on beauty, it seems that all worldly concerns just disappear. Maybe I missed my calling. Are there places where a woman can be fed, clothed and sheltered and do nothing but create art? Seems to me these monks have it made in the shade.

d


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Subject: RE: BS: greek orthodox icons
From: wysiwyg
Date: 28 Mar 04 - 11:12 PM

Well, Sister Thea was a RC nun whose life was given to music... I bet there are painting nuns, too.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: BS: greek orthodox icons
From: dianavan
Date: 28 Mar 04 - 11:47 PM

WYSIWYG - Thanks for the information. I have discovered that Ephraim is quite controversial (cultish) and that there are some problems with his charisma.

Aside from the paintings, I was most impressed with the stonework and the architecture. Haven't been able to find out who actually built the many gazebos, fountains, residences, church or the numerous chapels. I've never seen anything to equal the precision and the beauty and I've been to holy places all over the world. Its awesome!
The monks taking care of the gardens were pretty darn cute, as well. There was alot of hand kissing going on whenever one of the elders passed. One of the gardeners dared to complain in front of me. He told the monk accompanying me that he, "Couldn't do it." I had no idea what he was talking about but he was quickly silenced and bowed his head.

d


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Subject: RE: BS: greek orthodox icons
From: GUEST,freda
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 12:07 AM

my oldest daughter has married into a greek orthodox family. they have accepted me and my family as part of theirs. i have had the privilege of attending their church, listening to the most beautiful singing and chanting, sourrounded by stunning images in stained glass and in beautifully painted icons. their ancient religious ceremonies are very moving.


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Subject: RE: BS: greek orthodox icons
From: Mark Clark
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 12:17 AM

Perhaps, as a practicing Orthodox Christian, I can help explain.

First of all, the Orthodox Church is not a demonination. It is the Church founded by the Apostles at Pentecost. It's faith and doctrines have remained essentially unchanged from that day to the present. The Roman Pope was originally a Metropolitan Archbishop of the Orthodox Church with responsibility for one of the five sees of the ancient Church (Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem). There were originally four sees until the founding of Constantinople ca. 324. Over a period culminating in 1054, the see of Rome became the Roman Catholic Church. The remaining original sees plus new ones such as Kiev, Moscow, Georgia, etc. remained in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Every western denomination branched off directly or indirectly from the Roman Catholic Church.

Orthodox Icons are not said to be “painted,” rather they are written. The writing of an Icon must be performed by a trained Iconographer, often a priest or monk but typically someone who's spent time studying Iconography in a monestary or seminary.

The iconographer must prepare through prayer and fasting for the writing of the Icon; the writing is itself a sacrement. The iconographer copies traditional forms in writing the Icon and elements of the image are represented by traditional, practiced strokes of the brush. The colors used are not chosen by the Iconographer, rather they are prescribed by tradition. It is improper for an Icon to bear any mark identifying its maker. There is to be no ego involved and an Icon is said to be “not made by hands.”

An Icon tells a story. It contains all the elements of the story even when those elements were separated by great distances or time. The Icon is not meant to show how Saints or places actually looked. The more realistic and three-dimensional an Icon looks, the worse its quality is deemed to be. Icons are not worshiped in the Eastern Orthodox Church, they are valued and venerated as windows into heaven. It is wrong for an Icon to be kept in a museum or traded as art. Icons are to be kept in churches or in the homes of the Orthodox faithful.

In an Orthodox church the nave of the church is separated from the sanctuary (where the altar sits) by an Icon screen called, in greek, the Iconostasis. This is analogous to the veil of the ancient temple that separated worshipers from the Holy of Holies. The Icon screen, by tradition, will have certain Icons in particular places and be literally covered with Icons. The walls, ceiling, and dome of an Eastern Orthodox church are also covered with Icons.

The Icon Susan describes in her church is no doubt beautiful—I'd love to see a picture of it—but unless it was writen by an Orthodox iconographer in strict Orthodox tradition and received the proper blessing by a canonical Orthodox priest or bishop, it remains simply a painting and is not an Orthodox Icon.

I've tried to keep the preceding discussion on a purely historical and factual level. I haven't meant to slight or demean anyone's faith or chosen religious practice. I hope it served to inform.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: BS: greek orthodox icons
From: Padre
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 12:22 AM

Mark,

Thanks for a clear, cogent explanation of icons. Folks who want to know more about icons might enjoy a book entitled:

"Doors of Perception" - icons and their spiritual significance. Written by John Baggley, and published by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press in Crestwood NY

Padre


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Subject: RE: BS: greek orthodox icons
From: Amos
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 12:24 AM

Mark,

Many many thanks for clarifying this little piece of Christian history, which has always bedeviled me, so to speak.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: greek orthodox icons
From: dianavan
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 12:51 AM

Mark -

Thanks so much for explaining. I wish everyone knew this and would stop giving Rome so much credit.

Can you tell me more about the founding father of Saint Anthony's?

It was all so mysterious to me and perhaps too inquisitive but I was treated very kindly. I will go again next year. I have truly found a pilgrim's place.

d


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Subject: RE: BS: greek orthodox icons
From: Mark Clark
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 02:03 AM

Here is a page of explanation from the Web site of page of St. Anthony's Monastery. There is a little background on Elder Ephraim there as well.

I didn't mean to be taking credit away from Rome. Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Church were one through the first thousand years of Christianity. We still pray for the return of Rome to the Church. Even in the ancient Church the term Pope [Middle English, from Old English pāpa, from Late Latin, from Latin, father (title of bishops), from Greek pappās.] was applied to the Patriarch of Rome. Although the Episcopate of the ancient Church (as today) was collegial—each bishop encompased the totality of the Church—the Patriarch of Rome was called “first among equals.” He had no authority over doctrine but could be called upon to help adjudicate ecclesiastical controversies.

Perhaps the best and clearest introduction to Eastern Orthodoxy is a book by Timothy Ware (now Bishop Kallistos Ware) called The Orthodox Church. Ware was an Anglican layman when he researched and wrote this insightful, easy reading introduction. He talks about Church history, worship, doctrine, Icons and a host of other topics of interest to anyone wanting to learn more about Eastern Orthodoxy.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: BS: greek orthodox icons
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 03:24 AM

Of all the wonders I saw in Greece last summer, I think the icons were most fascinating. I wandered into a church at Lindos on Rhodes, and saw the usual line of icons of saints on the wall. The last in line was a donkey with a halo around his head. Turns out it was a traditional depiction of St. Christopher (Christ-bearer) - legend says he carried Jesus across a flooded river, like a donkey would do.

In a church in Thessaloniki in the north, the icons were speckled with chips, spaced about one inch apart. The Turks held northern Greece until 1923 and they considered icons to be profane, so they defaced them. The Hagia Sofia in Istanbul was an Orthodox church, largest in the world. It must have had wonderful icons - I wonder what happened to them after the church was taken over by Muslims.

As a Roman Catholic, I'm not sure I'd like to return to orthodoxy. I think I'd rather have all Christians learn to tolerate and value each other and celebrate their diversity. Homogenized religion isn't the answer.

-Joe Offer-
I hope nobody minds that I moved this to the "folklore" category.


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Subject: RE: BS: greek orthodox icons
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 03:38 AM

I do love reading these kinds of threads! I learn so much.

I was baptized into Greek Orthodoxy in order to marry my husband. That process in itself was intriguing, as I was placed into a huge marble font which has orignally been part of a pedestal supporting a statue of Marcus Aeurellius. My soon to be mother and sister-in-laws were my godmothers, and had to provide me with new clothes after the ceremony. They had purchased some underwear that has English phrases written around it, and I guess never bothered to ask anyone what they said. So, after the ceremony, they presented me with undies reading; "love at first bite" and "love begins here"!

But I really just wanted to thank Mark for his information. Lots there I never knew. My father-in-law used to be a painter in several of the churches on the island, and he eventually stopped because of a bad case of lead poisoning.

I remember Greek Orthodoxy the most for its incense, music intoned by the priests, and candle-lit processions down the hills from each of the churches on Easter Saturday. It was a moving sight to see, and even though I was Orthodox in name only, I always made it point to join the processions. The icons carried by the priests were their prized possessions and covered with flowers for the occasion.

PS-There is a Greek Monastary on Mount Athos which forbids all things feminine...not just people but animals as well..xx..e


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 04:07 AM

Aaahhh - come to daddy! A Greek Orthodox Christian in your midst, and a native of Thessaloniki to boot ("city of a thousand churches" - well, only 800 or so nowadays).

Mark Clark gave the fullest explanation on icons, so glad he pointed out the "writing" of icons, he knows his stuff. Perhaps I can add something on monasteries and monastic life.

The word originates from the Greek monos=alone. A monachos(=monk) means literally "he who is alone". Early on in the Christian era some believers decided to live alone, dedicating their life to their religion, but organised monasteries don't appear until the 4th century AD.

Increasingly over the last century or so some monasteries started taking a more active role in secular life, and the newest ones are indeed built close to towns or villages. The older ones however are remote, some in amazing, wonderful locations, and in times of strife acted as refuges for people avoiding persecution from invading armies, enemies of all sorts, and occasionally from the law too(provided they repented and took up the habit).

It is usually the older, more experienced, monks who will venture into contact with the secular world, as they are better protected against the various temptations. The younger monks are still vulnerable - that would explain the behaviour of the monks you met, Dianavan.

Mixed monasteries are very rare; but you get a few cases of mostly "twinned" monasteries and nunneries.

It is very important in monastic life to be "useful", not just in covering the various duties required in keeping a monastery going, but even more in recording history and producing art - not always with a religious connection, as much of the early Greek history and writings of Aristotle were only preserved through the efforts of monks who copied them. Positions such as "Hagiographer" (literally Saint-writer, icon-painter) are coveted as they command respect for the undoubted dedication and talent such a job demands. But a monk or nun will take pride in the lowliest of tasks and perform them "to the glory of God".

A practice that continues to this day (and is becoming stronger in fact) is the "beguinage", especially in nunneries: women who go to live in a nunnery, participating in all its activities (even hagiography), yet remain lay persons; eventually some of them may take up the habit. My sister's eldest daughter, now 41, is one such, at the "Eikosifinissa" monastery in the North of Greece. A troubled girl (IQ in the high 140s, raped at 13, rebellious nature) who found induction in secular society impossible, eventually found solace in beguinage in her mid-thirties. I make a point of visiting every time I go to Greece.

And monasteries offer a lot to secular society. One of them in particular helped my sister through the 2-year struggle against cancer and eventual death of an 11-year old daughter, who is now buried in the monastery grounds.

Byzantine music - ahh, now there's a subject! But I'll leave this for another posting.

George ("Yorgos", really) Papavgeris


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 04:16 AM

Ellenpoly,
I loved the story of the undies - worthy of the "Big Fat Greek Wedding"! My own wife (Church of England) did not have to be baptised, as she had already been christened within her own dogma. But the Greek Orthodox Church would not acknowledge a CofE wedding, so we had to get married twice in Church, once in England and then in Greece. To avoid confrontation, we do not celebrate either wedding anniversary, but instead the date we met; we feel that is more appropriate in many ways.

But it gives me great pleasure to watch people's faces when I say the my first wife attended my second wedding; or that I kiss my first wife in the morning and my second one in the evening...

And they're both lovely - the biggest blessing in my life.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 06:31 AM

El Greko,thanks for your posting. Again, I'm learning more than I knew when I was actually living in Greece (Syros, in the Cyclades).
The reason I had to be baptised is that I was born a Jew, and therefore had never been baptised into any form of Christianity.

Neither my husband or I was religious, and it was quite a comedy trying to get married in Greece (this was in the early 70s and there's a chance things changed by now, but somehow I doubt it). When we first found out there was no such thing as a Civil Ceremony in Greece and if we had one anywhere else it would not be recognized legally, we first went to a Rabbi in London to see if he would be willing to perform a ceremony for us. Nope, not a chance he said. Then we went to a Protestant Minister who said we'd have to join his congregation and become members for at least 6 months. Finally we went back to Yhanni's home town and asked his local Greek Orthodox priests. The younger priest insisted that I be educated into Orthodoxy before being considered appropriate to marry within their church. The older (and wiser in my opinion) whispered to the younger ("Let's just get them married and LEGAL") which endeared him to me, and we were subsequently married soon after my baptism.

Being married in the Greek Orthodox tradition was great fun, aside from not understanding a word of what was being said and knowing I could easily have been agreeing to white slavery (I wasn't far off) and being pelted with those really HARD little candied almonds.
The party afterwards would have put "Big Fat Greek Wedding" to shame. My most vivid memory was when Yhanni picked up our small table at the local Bouzouki Bar in his TEETH and tossed it across the room. Portents of things to come...xx..e


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Deckman
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 06:44 AM

My My! The things one learned on MUDCAT! CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: freda underhill
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 07:12 AM

My daughter Shunanda was baptised in her greek church in order to marry. having been brought up by a vegetarian buddhist, this was a cultural leap. she now has him leaping and has trained her greek husband (from the island of castellorizan) to cook and wash up..

the family has a beautiful house in castellorizan that i can use any time.

best wishes

freda

freda


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: breezy
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 07:24 AM

Is this the same El greko who wrote a song entitled 'Bogeyman under my bed'?

Most enlightening and so you have 2 wives of the same person.

which one sang with you so delightfully last night and will the other one replicate the event?

does this mean there are two of you too,in her eyes which may mean that there are four of you in total and now I'm confused altogether because were there 3 of us up there last night and I only counted two?


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: wysiwyg
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 09:41 AM

I'll have to ask Hardi about the icon's provenance, but I am pretty sure it was all done correctly-- the icon was commissioned and donated by a faithful Eastern Orthodox member of our parish.

We have a number of folks of that heritage in our parish-- there is no church for them to attend and have been told that when this is the case, to attend an Episcopal church (including receiving communion), since when we left Rome we had the good sense to go back to the early beginnings of the church for our foundation (including Hebrew/Jewish roots of liturgy and theology) and since we have quite a vein of mysticism within the broad array of expressions found in the Episcopal Church. Because of Hardi's personal interest in and love for the Eastern way, he has gone out of his way to include what he can of Eastern ways within our own parish's diverse array of approaches to worship and spirituality. I am sure recent events have strained this, but our parish and community proudly say we are 20 years behind the times on most things so we have not yet had any departures among our Orthodox brothers and sisters.

Back in Chicagoland he lived in a melting-pot neighborhood, and as an Anglo-Catholic he preferred to make his friends among Orthodox and "Old Catholic" clergy (there's another interesting wrinkle, the OCs). They would often meet together to celebrate one another's liturgies (privately).

~Susan


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 10:53 AM

I `ad one of those Greek Orthodox Priests in my cab one day. Lovely `at, shame about the beard!!
What am I like?


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Mark Clark
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 11:08 AM

I'm struggling to continue this very interesting discussion in a way that won't be taken as offensive by anyone. Please understand that I strongly defend the right and freedom of each individual to worship (or not) as he chooses and I have no wish to demean anyone's belief system.

Organized religion usually has certain perscriptions for what is considered correct or “canonical” within the practice of a particular body or group. Christianity (Orthodoxy) inherited this concept from Judaism—Christianity began as a sect of Judaism, the first Christians had first to be Jews in order to be Christians—and, over time, developed canon law and modes of worship that seemed appropriate. A lot of the canons deal with the perceived validity of religious practice.

From an Orthodox perspective, a priest does not hold any valid orders, for example, unless properly ordained by a canonical Orthodox Bishop in good standing with his Patriarch and the other canonical Orthodox Churches. Unless a priest is a canonical Orthodox priest, there is no communion, no Eucharist, from the perspective of an Orthodox Christian. There has never been any exception to this in the history of Orthodoxy.

Likewise, no Orthodox Iconographer would write an Icon for a church that wasn't Orthodox. Neither would an Orthodox bishop or priest consecrate an Icon outside of an Orthodox Church.

Orthodoxy is currently receiving a large number of converts as people search for true spirituality in a Christian tradition. Especially in the Anglican (Episcopal) church, often whole parishes—priest and flock together—choose to become Orthodox. Some of these also adopt the traditional Eastern liturgical practice and some choose a Western Rite liturgy. The Antiochian Orthodox Church has received a number of these parishes.

Were I in a situation where there was no Orthodox Church with an hour or two of my home, I might opt to attend an Anglican parish—possibly Hardi's and Susan's—but I wouldn't excommunicate myself by participating in their communion nor would I view religious art as Icons.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: wysiwyg
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 11:22 AM

Hm, no Mark, I don't feel offended, and I appreciate your thoughtfully-stated concern, but I'm also sure people have been encouraged to worship with us, so how about if I ask Hardi more about this and see if he can help me clarify what I can't understand accurately enough to convey for myself?   

In friendship,

~Susan


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 01:27 PM

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is strong here in Alberta, where many Ukrainians settled between the 1890s and 1930. In Alaska, the Russian Orthodox Church persists.

Mark's very informative posts make me want to know more about the iconographic practices of those groups as well. My only knowledge is of Ukrainian weddings and wedding celebrations and traditional recipes.

The Ukrainians also speak of 'writing' their decorated eggs (pysanki), but I believe that the definition is much broader.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: The Walrus
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 04:12 PM

As part of my college course, I've tried copying icons as painted and gilded items - it's a lot harder than it looks.

Are the originals still written using egg tempera and natural pigments or are modern paints and colours allowed for new pieces?

Please accept this is not a frivolous question, as the availability and ease of preparation of pigments did effect their use within an icon, for example, the use of 'ultramarine' blue for robes of the Madonna reflects the rarity and difficulty of producing first grade colour from lapis-lazuli, this significance is surely lost if one can pick up a tube of synthetic colour

Walrus


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Mark Clark
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 08:34 PM

Not a frivolous question at all, TW. Traditionally, as you point out, Icons were written using egg tempera and were written directly on solid wooden boards. Icons adorning church walls were sometimes frescoes and sometimes, as at Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, they were mosaics. Materials used today depend on the jurisdiction and the location. Egg tempera is still used by very strict traditionalists in Eastern Europe but a great many Iconographers now use acrylic paints and write Icons on manufactured boards. These materials are more consistant, more dimensionally stable and are thought to extend the life of the Icon. Large Icons intended for application directly to church walls are now usually written on artists' canvas in a studio then taken to the site and applied to the wall.

In the Orthodox Church the term for the Mother of Jesus is Theotokos, a Greek word meaning Mother of God. The colors are traditionally those shown in this example. In Byzantine Iconography, the Theotokos is never depicted wearing ultramarine blue although she is sometimes shown wearing a blue gown under her maroon robe. The three stars you see in the example symbolize her virginity before, during and after carrying the Creator in her womb.

The same site I linked above also presents a wonderful step-by-step explanation of the techniques used in writing an Icon, just click through the steps. If you snoop around the site, there are also examples of many traditional Icons.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: dianavan
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 08:59 PM

I have learned alot from this discussion and would like to thank Mark Clark for his patience and willingness to share some of what was so mysterious to me.

I would encourage all of you to visit St. Anthony's near Florence, Arizona. The beauty that rises from this desolate desert is awe inspiring and will leave you with a sense of wonder. Well worth the pilgramage.

d


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Stephen R.
Date: 29 Mar 04 - 10:51 PM

My thanks to Mark and the other Orthodox contributors to this thread. Your servant has the great blessing of being also one of the usually anonymous Orthodox participants in this forum. I'm not surprised that there are others; traditional singing is an essential part of our religious culture, and it is easy for us to appreciate beauty in diverse cultural traditions. Traditionally Orthodox peoples have also preserved such traditions as the singing of epics (shared, to be sure, with those of other religions; in Former Yugoslavia this tradition seems to be strongest among the Muslims). The relation between our church singing and folk singing is sometimes insufficiently appreciated; compare the Holy Saturday troparion "Noble Joseph" in the "Bulgarian Chant" melody sung in Russian churches with the Bulgarian folksong "Moma Tudora, Tudora," popularized in the Bulgarian wave of the 1980s. The Carpatho-Rusyn chant often employs a final cadence with a downward leap of a fourth, obviously absorbed from the folksinging of the province where it is very prominent. And Vinko Zganec pointed out long ago that the Serbian chant employs scales used in Serbian folk singing.

Stephen


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Peter Kasin
Date: 30 Mar 04 - 01:22 AM

Mark -

Would you also recommend the writings of Fr. Seraphim Rose? I've been reading him lately, and find his life, published lectures, and writings fascinating, but not being Orthodox myself, I defer to you whether he would be recommended reading for anyone interested in finding out about the Orthodox church.

Chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Mar 04 - 02:22 AM

Can anybdy recommend books about icons and their symbolism? I see a few books mentioned above, but are there a few books that would give me a good introductory understanding?

By the way, I was amazed to see an icon painted by the original El Greko, before he moved to Spain. I think it was in the monastery on the island of Patmos. I had no idea El Greko had painted icons.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: breezy
Date: 30 Mar 04 - 04:13 AM

and toenails


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Micca
Date: 30 Mar 04 - 05:25 AM

Well Personally, I think the Mudcats El Greko is a splendid example of an Greek (perhaps Un-Orthodox)Icon!!!
On a Musical note, John Taverners liturgical Music ("The Protecting Veil," "Ikos of Light") are wonderful contemplative and inspiring, even to a Pagan!!!!!. Taverner is a Western Christian (Anglican I think) that converted to Greek Orthodox and writes Music in the Tradition of Greek Orthodox Church Music, much of it Choral Wonderful stuff!!!


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: The Walrus
Date: 30 Mar 04 - 10:03 AM

Mark,

Thank you for the correction, I was obviously working from the Western tradition, where the Madonna was given blue robes because of the expense and difficulty of production of 'first grade' ultramarine.
Is the Theotokos always traditionally depicted in maroon in Orthodox iconography? If so, do you have any idea why?
Thanks for the iconography link too, It was fascinating to compare some differences between Eastern and Western methods in tempera painting (undercoat colours, oil vs water gilding etc.)

Walrus


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Mark Clark
Date: 30 Mar 04 - 11:02 PM

I found a nice page called A Brief Guide to Byzantine Icons that discusses the symbolism in Icons and the reasons behind the traditional forms. It also discusses uncanonical Icons and why they are an improper representation of the sacred image.

You may also be interested in A Guide to Byzantine Icons on the Internet, a site with a great many examples and links. Another interesting way to find Icon images is to go to the Google image search page and enter theotokos. You'll find over 2,500 images, many very beautiful.

I'm trying to find material about the symbolism of colors but haven't come up with it yet. The earliest known Icon (of the Theotokos) is said to have been written by St. Luke the Evangelist and it's likely that the form of the Icon as well as the colors have simply been copied without change for nearly two thousand years.

As for Fr. Saraphim Rose, I'm not really competent to answer Chanteyranger's question. Our parish priest, Fr. Paul Baba, is a disciple of Fr. Saraphim and gives me something to read from time to time. Other Orthodox priests I respect are somewhat cautionary when talking about him. There seems to be almost a cult surrounding him and his thought and I'm not sure every Orthodox theologian holds him in the same high esteem. It's difficult to get a good reading because clergy who don't wholy endorse Fr. Seraphim are reluctant to dismiss his work publicly.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Peter Kasin
Date: 31 Mar 04 - 02:04 AM

Thanks, Mark. I got a similar impression of his standing within the church from someone I know who is orthodox and had introduced me to his writings and a biography of him.

Dianavan -
As for icons, she recommends a book called Russian And Greek Icons From The Charles Pankow Collection, 13th through 19th Centuries, by Dick temple. Publisher: William kaufmann, Inc. ISBN # 0-06576-034-9. it's out of print, but try www.bookfinder.com. It's a picture book, so not much in the way of history.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Mark Clark
Date: 31 Mar 04 - 02:17 PM

I sent a note to Mark Keriotis, the developer of A Brief Guide to Byzantine Icons, and he was kind enough to respond with some information on the symbolism of color in Icons. Here is what he sent me from a book called The Icon: Image of the Invisible By Egon Sendler.
White
The color "closest to light itself" (Sendler p153) It symbolizes Divinity, purity, innocence, death to sin.
Examples: The Transfiguration, the Resurrection
Yellow or Gold
Also suggests Light, but in a manner that is more regal and powerful but not quite as gentle as White. It emphasizes the Kingdom of Heaven with its Eternal Space and Time.
Examples: Common background color, Halos
Blue
"The least sensual of colors," it symbolizes the intangible qualities of the spiritual, tranquility, and Heaven. It is also strongly associated with virginity.
Examples: Common background color, mandorlae
Red
"The most active of colors" it can represent the blood of Life, or the Divine radiant fire which consumes evil yet sustains goodness.
Examples: Blood, Last judgment, Elijah's chariot, the Burning Bush
Purple
Reserved in the ancient world for the wealthy, it implies "Royal and Priestly" power and dignity.
Examples: The Bridegroom, The Virgin's cloak
Green
Indicates growth and young energy having the calmness of Blue and the energy of Red. It is strongly associated with the Holy Spirit.
Examples: Prophet's robes
Brown
Not readily meaningful apart from the way "it reflects the density of matter" but is more lively than Black.
Examples: most buildings and inanimate objects
Black
The absence of light, it is reserved for depicting the darkness of sin and death.
Examples: The Nativity Cave, Pit of Hades, tombs
I gave Mark a link to this thread. Perhaps he will drop in and add his considerable knowledge to the discussion.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: GUEST,Mark Keriotis
Date: 31 Mar 04 - 05:46 PM

Hi Folks, I dont know if i can add much but I'd love to help if I can. (I think the other Mark might know more than me!)

Actually I might add to the confusion on issuse like the color of the Virgin Mary's garments. There seems to be many theories. One is that the Blue undergarment represents Earth and Red the Divine energy that descended upon her at the conception of Christ. Another theory says that the she, being a creature of Earth (this time represented by Red) became like Heaven when God came to dwell within her (blue under the red).

so,unfortunatily I can't give a clear answer about that.
I'd like to know more about what Stephen knows about Carpatho-Rusyn Chant, thats another big interest of mine.

Mark K


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: dianavan
Date: 01 Apr 04 - 02:34 AM

Purple is the colour of spiritual royalty.

Blue is innocence and purity.

Red is life.

...and I'm not orthodox but I am so happy with what I have learned on this thread.

Why do some people, after making the sign of the cross, return their hand to their breast and make a bow and some do not?


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 01 Apr 04 - 03:19 AM

Thanks to all contributers for this fascinating thread.

RtS
(grecophile)


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Mark Clark
Date: 01 Apr 04 - 11:17 AM

Why do some people, after making the sign of the Cross, return their hand to their breast and make a bow and some do not?
An interesting observation, dianavan. Tradition is central to Orthodoxy; both with a capital “T” and a small “t.” Tradition, with a capital “T” includes thing like scripture (the Bible), canon law, sacraments, liturgical practice, etc. Tradition with a small “t” includes practices that may be national or regional in character. Traditional vestments of clergy can vary from group to group. How an Orthodox worshiper Crosses herself or himself can vary as well. The right hand is always held in the same way (not in the Roman fashion) and the sign of the Cross is made forehead to abdomen, right shoulder to left shoulder. The final placement of the palm on the breast and the small bow you describe are optional and separate gestures depending on local tradition or the tradition in which the worshiper was raised. As an interesting piece of history, I'm told that in the ancient Church the sign of the Cross was always made the way Roman Catholics do it today. The Orthodox Church changed the gesture to differentiate Orthodox belivers from the western schismatics. As far as I know, this is the only change in practice the Orthodox Church has made.

Orthodox worshipers are, in the main, perhaps the most pious Christians you will ever encounter. In many churches worshipers will bow very low when Crossing themselves. In the US, it's common to see pews in Orthodox churches but pews are not traditional in an Orthodox church. Traditionally, worshipers were free to move about, venerating Icons, lighting candles, offering private prayers and so forth, throughout the Liturgy which might last anywhere from 90 minutes to two or three hours depending on the jurisdiction and the season.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 01 Apr 04 - 11:30 AM

In Greece at least, the placing of the hand on the breast after crossing oneself three times symbolises the word "amen". As we cross ourselves, silently, we say (excuse phonetics):

Di efchon - ton aghion - pateron - imon
(through the blessings/intervention of our holy fathers)
[ first sign of the cross]

Kyrie - Iesou - Christe - O Theos
(Lord Jesus Christ, our...)
[ second sign of the cross]

Imon - eleison - ke soson - imas
(...God - have mercy - and save - us)
[third sign of the cross]

Amin
(Amen)
[hand on breast, small bow of thanks and respect]

In the next posting I will relate a funny, but true, story linked to crossing oneself.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 01 Apr 04 - 11:39 AM

Picture this: It's a busy lunchtime rush hour in Athens. I have just arrived with my fiancee (English, first time abroad) at the main railway station, and we jump into a taxi to get to our final destination. On the roads it's mayhem, horns blaring, drivers "cutting" each other, and our driver seems as tense as any, gas pedal floored and braking at the last possible moment several times a minute.

She turns to me after a while and asks quietly "Why is the driver crossing himself every few seconds?". I observe him to make sure, and then confidently explain to her that in Greece many people cross themselves when they pass a church - even when driving.

"Thank God for that" she says, "I thought it was every time he had narrowly escaped a crash!".

She was right in her mistake - it could well have been that!

Thankfully she survived the shock, and 31 years later we are still together.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: GUEST,Mark Keriotis
Date: 01 Apr 04 - 02:01 PM

I think one ought to bless oneself just to cross the street in Athens!

The bow at the end of the sign of the cross seems to be mostly a Russian custom, although many other Orthodox lower their heads while forming the cross.

The Russian "Old Believers" say that the ancient way of of making the sign of the cross is with the first two fingers of the right hand together(symbolizing the divine and human natures of Christ) compared to the current Orthodox practice of three fingers (symbolizing the Trinity) and two fingers tucked into the palm (the 2 natures)

Mark K


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Uncle Jaque
Date: 01 Apr 04 - 03:43 PM

A Paternal Grandfather, Dr. James Franklin Clarke, went to Bulgaria in 1860 as a Congregationalist Missionary and spent his life ministering there. He and his Wife founded a Mission School to help educate the poor Bulgarian Children, which we are told is now the "American University" in Sophia, having survived nearly 70 years of persecution by Nazis and the Communist regime that followed them.

His Son, James Cummings, continued in the Mission field until repression by Turks and Nazis forced all of the Missionaries to flee in the late 1930s.

When he returned to the States, he brought a bunch of souveniers and relics that they had collected over the years, including a wooded "Triptyc", which is sort of an Icon with a pair of wooden shutters covering the central motif.

When the shutters are opened, they reveal a picture of the Madonna and Christ Child, and the inside of the "doors" have several panels - sort of like a Sunday comic strip in a newspaper - depicting what I assume are various Saints doing various things.

A couple of them, who we assume to be the Patron Saint of Bulgaria (St. George?) are on a horse; one is skewering a black snake on a spear (symbolic of the Devil, I assume) and on the other door he is spearing a strange headless little guy in a yellow jacket who is holding what looks like a badly damaged TV antennae in his hand.

Now I know it's not the Cable guy, cause this thing has got to be about a hundred years old or so - but since I don't have a clue what that's all about, I wonder if anyone out there might?

GGF used to ride all around the Mountains of Bulgaria looking after the Nomadic Shepherds and such up there, so it's anybody's guess what part of Bulgaria it came from.

If we could post images here I would be glad to share a photo of it.

It really is a pretty old thing.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: GUEST,Mark Keriotis
Date: 01 Apr 04 - 07:54 PM

I'm guessing that the second depiction is actually St. Demetrius who is often paired together with Saint George in compositions like triptycs, he and Saint George were both early martyrs who served in the Roman army. The man on the other end of the spear is a gladiator named Lyaios who played a part in St Demetrius' story

Why he is headless and holding an antenna, I dont know, I've never seen one like that before (assuming it is what i think it is)
I'd love to see a picture of it if you'd like to email me zoemark@earthlink.net

Mark K


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Stephen R.
Date: 02 Apr 04 - 12:07 AM

Mark K.is interested in Carpatho-Rusyn chant; there is a forum on the topic hosted by Yahoo; the name is Prostopinije. Another Yahoo forum that may be of interest: Podoben.

Stephen


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: LadyJean
Date: 02 Apr 04 - 12:32 AM

One of the gentlemen in my Presbyterian Church is Bulgarian. One Sunday he favored us with some Bulgarian chants. The accoustics in my church are abysmal, and he still sounded like something you'd hear in heaven. That says a lot for the Bulgarian chant.

On Fridays I go past the Federal Building, and I often see the new citizens coming out. One day, it was a small group of Eastern Orthodox nuns, in their long black robes, and hats. Each one had a small flag. That and the sisters' smiles were all the color they had.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: dianavan
Date: 02 Apr 04 - 12:33 AM

Uncle Jaque - Can you post the photo with a blue clicky the way Donuel does it? I'm curious.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: dianavan
Date: 02 Apr 04 - 03:57 AM

After doing a bit of reading, it seems most of the Greek Orthodox folks out there are questioning the monastic practices of Father Ephraim. It was his monastery in Arizona that I visited. Although I found the experience fascinating, I find myself wondering about the so-called "cult" and the richness of the environment.

My spiritual beliefs are my own and I am not easily influenced by others but I must say that my logic was suspended for a brief moment in time. I hope that Ephraim's monasteries will be investigated further. He is either a great spiritual leader or a cult master of the first degree.

I am happy, however, to have been introduced to Orthodox Christianity and to the information I have rcvd. as a result of my queries here. Thanks again,

d


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Uncle Jaque
Date: 03 Apr 04 - 01:34 AM

Well, let's try....

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/UncleJaque/BULGARIA%20MISSION/BulgTrptcOpen.jpg

Hmm- I get an image in the "blue clicky maker" thing, but not on "Preview"...

If it won't show here, try chasing the link down to my Photobucket Album site.

In the meantime I'll try sending the E-mail attachment to whoever requests it - perhaps they can figure out how to post here to share with everybody.

UJ


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Uncle Jaque
Date: 03 Apr 04 - 01:39 AM

Oh well, at least the link seems to work.

Let's try a shot of the Tryptic closed....


Bulgarian Tryptic Closed

Bulgarian Tryptic Closed

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/UncleJaque/BULGARIA%20MISSION/Bulg.jpg

How'd that work?


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Uncle Jaque
Date: 03 Apr 04 - 01:44 AM

And last but not least, Heres' a picture of the Old Missionary himself, relaxing in his Grape Arbor in Sophia in 1912.

Dr. James Franklin Clarke - Sophia

Dr.JFC Photo - Obverse


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: GUEST,Mark Keriotis
Date: 03 Apr 04 - 02:15 PM

Uncle Jaque,
WOW, I think you have something special there, a real museum piece I think. I'm not really an expert in dating these things but the only icons I've ever seen like that were nearly 400 year old. the inscriptions are in slavonic "Jesus Christ Conquers" on the outer doors. Inside the left pannel top to bottom: Archangel Michael, Saints Cosmas and Damian (holding their medicine chests) and St George. Right pannel: St John the baptist, two women martyrs (maybe Paraskeva and Barbra) I can't quite read the inscription and the bottom is almost certainly St Demetrius. maybe the antenna is part of the little guy's armor or a broken weapon.

Mark K


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 03 Apr 04 - 02:48 PM

Mark,
I think the figures under St John the Baptist are Konstantine and Helen (mother and son). The fact that she holds the Cross (she was reputed to have discovered the Holy Cross in a well) while he wears an emperor's crown (he was emperor of the Eastern Roman empite) gives credence to this also. In any case they are man-woman, not two female figures.

I agree about St Demetrius. Lyaios was a gladiator, so he probably holds dome unusual gladiatorial weapon.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Uncle Jaque
Date: 03 Apr 04 - 06:29 PM

Here's a link to a detailed closeup study of that right door:

Bulgarian Tryptic: Right Door Detail

Thank you all so very much for your facinating insight as to the meaning of the inscriptions and the "Who's Who" of the cast of carachters featured on this old relic. I'm inspired to research more deeply into the History behind all of this.

I knew the Tryptic was old... but not THAT old! Goodness Gracious; 400 years!!?? No way!?

Guess we'd better hide it a little deeper in the ol' sock drawer! };^{)~

(we don't dare display it on the wall any more as one of the doors is falling off, and I'm a little reluctant to restore it until I find out how old or potentially significant it might be).

As a little kid I remember thinking of the inscriptions on the closed doors as "The Happy Eskimo in the Christmas Tree" (My Parents used to display it on the wall of our home when we were growing up).
   We always wondered about the mysterious figures depicted on those "doors" and what the "funny writing" was all about.

As an aside, Grandfather James Franklin brought one of the (if not THE) first printing presses to Bulgaria in the late 1800s, if I recall correctly, in order to publish educational materials as well as Christian litterature or "Tracts" in the native language.

He was handing out some of these Gospel Tracts in the streets of Sofia in 1916 when the fatal stroke or "apoplexy" as they used to call it struck him down, and he was ushered into the presence of our Lord a few days thereafter.

As far as we know, his grave remains in Sofia.

He had a heart firmly committed to the Lord, the Kingdom, and the People of Bulgaria - particularly the Children, a couple of whom they apparently adopted, but of whom little is known.
   We have a picture of a young man who we think may be one of them.
Gosh; they'd be our Great-Uncles, I guess.

Among the relics brought back to Massachusetts were a number of woven tapestries, an "apron" I guess you'd call it, and a small collection of knives.

I don't know if you are into that sort of thing, but I could snap some pics of the knives as well if you are interested; most of them feature blades folding into a curved, tapering handle that appears to be goat horn, and a couple of them are spring loaded primitive "swithchblades". One of them is very finely made and has a blade like a 19th Century "Bowie" knife that still snaps out quite smartly when the latch is released. It looks like a pretty darned formidable weapon!

One of the "switchblades" is in my Dad's old tool-chest, where he apparently was still using it to strip insulation off of wires and whittle a point on his pencil from time to time. I suppose I oughta dig it out of there....

Brother J.D. has a big old hand-wrought Iron nail or spike that my Dad picked up while visiting Bulgaria in the 1930's from the site of an old Monastary in the Mountains - it has a tag on it that tells the name of the Monastary, but I forget... it was a short name, though...

We thought some of returning to Bulgaria some day to visit and see what's left of the old School, and the state of the Christian Church over there - but declining health and financial resources seem to have nixed that idea.

Thanks again for your insight, and may Blessings abundantly attend you in this Easter Season.

UJ in ME


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Stephen R.
Date: 03 Apr 04 - 11:23 PM

Ladyjean's experience with Bulgarian Chant is part of a long tradition. A thousand years ago Prince Vladimir of Kiev determined to adopt a new faith for himself and his people, then polytheists. According to the traditional account, he sent emissaries to visit the centers of several religions, and when the returned they reported that standing in the Agia Sophia church in Constantinople during services, they no longer knew whether they were on earth or in heaven.

"Bulgarian Chant," by the way, may refer to either of two distinct chant systems. During the centuries of Ottoman domination, the Bulgarian Church was administratively united with the Greek church and sang the same chant as the Greeks. Adapted to the Slavonic text, this is the traditional chant of Bulgaria down to the present, although in urban churches one hears Russian and Russian-style choral polyphony. I expect that what Ladyjean heard was the Bulgarian adaptation of the Byzantine Chant sung by Greeks.

On the other hand, some time before 1600 the Orthodox churches of the Polish-Lithuanian Rzeczpospolita adopted a system that they called "Bulgarian Chant," in some communities as the default chant for just about everything, in most as a adjunct to what they already sang, providing sets of melodies not previously so covered. A small number of these "Bulgarian" melodies were accepted by the Russian church in the second half of the 17th century, still under the name _Bolgarskii Rospev_ (Bulgarian Chant). This variety of chant was unknown to the Bulgarians themselves (perhaps because it had been entirely supplanted there by the Byzantine Chant--we just don't know much about its origins) until Russia helped them to break free of Turkish rule in the 19th century; when they discovered that the Russian had a "Bulgarian Chant," there was considerable interest, and to some extent these melodies were reclaimed as a national treasure. But the sorry history of the 20th century intervened and for much of the recent past the Bulgarian Church lived under harsh conditions, so the attempt to recover this variety of chant had limited success. In any case, the Byzantine chant remains the traditional form of church singing in Bulgaria.

Twentieth-century Western scholars tended to doubt a genuine Bulgarian origin of this Bolgarskii Rospev; but listen to the "Noble Joseph" melody sung in Russian and Ukrainian churches on Holy Saturday (a week from today), which belongs to the Bolgarskii Rospev, and compare the Bulgarian folksong "Moma Tudora, Tudora," prominent in the Bulgarian wave of the 1980s, and see if you don't hear a similarity.

Stephen


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: GUEST,Mark Keriotis
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 01:20 AM

Uncle Jaque
according to the incriptions the saints are named Petka and Nedelya.
they're both woman (sorry El Greko! not a bad guess)
I never heard of those names before so I guess they are both local Bulgarian/Macedonian saints. Maybe someone else here knows more about them. I believe Nedela is the old slavic word for Sunday, so its possible her name was translated, if so, Greeks would know her as St. Kyriaki or Dominica in Latin.

Mark K


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: dianavan
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 03:13 AM

Uncle Jaque - Don't restore it. Its a real treasure.

Why is the face of the figure holding the antanae obscured by the horse? I find that part of the icon puzzling. Any answers?

d


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Stephen R.
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 10:02 AM

Mark K. is surely right about St Nedelia. This word means literally "no business" or "no transactions," that is, "no work", and referred to Sunday. It still has that meaning in most Slavic languages. Russian, however, adopted _Voskresenie_ 'Resurrection' as the word for Sunday, and then gave _nedelia_ the meaning of 'week'. I don't know when this occurred, but it must have been pretty early, because 'week' in Latvian is also nedelia (sorry I can't put in the proper diacriticals; the second _e_ is long, the _l_ is soft); clearly borrowed from Russian, and I think it must have happened before the 13th century.

St Petka is to be identified in the same way. She is St Pareskeva; this is Greek for 'Preparation', and in the Hellenistic period meant in Jewish usage 'Friday', the day of preparation for the Sabbath. In Russian Slavonic, she is called _Piatnitsa_ 'Friday', obviously from the word for 'five' (for some reason, while Greeks count Sunday as the first day of the week, Slavs reckon Monday as the first, a convention that also is reflected in Latvian). _Petka_ comes from the same root, the old letter being pronounced _ia_ in some languages and _e_ in others. It is, however, a popular form with the diminutive _-ka_.

So these are in fact not just local Bulgarian saints but are in the Greek Menaion; only they are a bit disguised by the translation of their names. They are not the only ones; St Photini becomes Svetlana in Slavic, Lumenita in Romanian.

Stephen R.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 02:14 PM

Stephen R, thanks for the explanation of Bulgarian chant. A young Ukrainian priest tried to explain some of this to me, but his English was poor and my background nil.

Uncle Jacque, don't attempt restoration without professional help. Regardless of the age, it is a lovely triptych.
A suggestion- To keep people from handling it, and to avoid dust, I have a native American figure in a shadowbox type mount on the wall. A clay maquette of a wall sculpture will be mounted in the same way.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Mark Clark
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 04:24 PM

Thanks to everyone. This thread is just fascinating. I found an extremely westernized image of St. Petka and a CD of Bulgarian Orthodox Christmas chants by the Male Choir of Sveta Nedelya Cathedral - Sofia, but I can find no image of St. Nedelia or Nedelya on the Internet.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 05:40 PM

St Nedelya, goddess-protector of Sofia, holds the symbols of wisdom and fame, a statue in the square, in front of the church of St Nedelia.
An icon with her image is shown in fig. 16, at this Bulgarian site, which you can find on Google by searching St Nedelya- www.plovdivcityguide.com/photogalleries...

Interesting is an image of the prophet Elijah ascending at Images

There may be other images in the many sites found searching St Nedelia.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 05:47 PM

Try www.geocities.com/SoHo/Museum/4123/uother.html for the images including Elijah. I got a different url when I went back. try again-
Images


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Apr 04 - 06:07 PM

Sts. Nedelya, Marina, Petka and Arch. Michael at Images
Click on the arrows for more Saints.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: GUEST,emmanuel
Date: 22 Apr 04 - 03:40 AM

Mark Clark,

You do a wonderful job representing the treasures of Eastern Orthodoxy. I am a 19 year old male discerning a vocation to the diaconate or the priesthood in the Orthodox Faith (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese).

In response to the questions concerning Father Ephraim, I would like to let you know a little about him. He came from the Holy Mountain, Mount Athos, to the United States for health reasons. Many Orthodox people wanted to establish more monasteries in the United States, for the reason that since the 200s, monasteries formed an incredibly important part of the life of a Christian. It was an escape from the world that we live in so that we may focus on God, rather than on ourselves.

Elder Ephram formed his monasteries in the Athonite Tradition. There is a very regimented schedule, that may shock many people. Monks literally pray for us about 9 hours a day (at least). The predominant language in the monasteries is Greek, as in the Greek Athonite Tradition. As you can see, this is quite frightening to the families of many monks who are converts. Imagine, "My son is speaking Greek, dressing in black, and praying 10 hours a day and he can't marry!" This is why they are seen as cultish, because they are not the "American norm for religion."

I hope that all of you on a journey to the Ancient Christian Faith will recognize Orthodoxy as the faith of the Church. We have many wonderful practices- icons, candles, incense, etc., but the most important thing is that we carry with us the unadulterated faith of Jesus Christ.


Brothers and Sisters, forgive me,

emmanuel


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Apr 04 - 07:46 AM

Mark,
that is praise indeed - and well deserved too. May I, as a Greek and an Orthodox Christian, be the first to nominate you for the virtual "chair" of official Mudcat expert on Christian Orthodoxy? You've certainly taught me a thing or two.

Brother Emmanuel,
thank you for the clarification. Indeed, all too often we tend to classify that which is different as "cultish". I know of Father Ephraim from Father Eusebios of Faia Petra and support your words. Meanwhile, may you have success and peace in your own endeavours.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: dianavan
Date: 22 Apr 04 - 10:36 AM

Emmanuel - Is it true that Father Ephraim requires the monks to break all ties with their family, including visits during religious holidays? Is it also true that unlike other monasteries that require a vow of poverty, the Ephraimites take their worldly possessions (including money) to the monastery? Isn't it also true that he fell out of favour with both the Russian and Greek orthodox churches in the past?

Don't get me wrong, I was very impressed with what I saw at St. Anthony's. I just want to know more. I know the cult-busters are after him.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Apr 04 - 12:28 PM

Dianavan,
I can speak for the first of those - it is a standard requirement for a trainee monk to cut off all ties with friends and family and all of the outside world. If he can't hack it, the solution is simple - stop training to be a monk. There is an "out". Later on, when he is established and trusted to be able to withstand outside "temptation", visits are allowed, but of the order of 1,2, 3 a year.

As for the second, the vow of poverty is for the monks - not for the monastery. Indeed, monasteries are always on the lookout for funds, partly to support some of the works they do (like running orphanages, supporting single mothers, helping the aged etc). It is not unusual for someone entering monastic life to take their worldly possessions and donate them to the monastery - it is their own decision, and nobody demands it (it would be unenforceable anyway, as the monastery does not have a record of the assets of the trainee monk when he enters).

For the third, I don't know - I haven't heard anything about that. You have to remember however that the Athonite monasteries are not under the Greek Orthodox Archbishop, but under the Patriarch in Konstantinople (Istanbul). They are part of a different hierarchy. These hierarchies have their differences and occasional bickerings (for example the monasteries follow the "old" calendar - I think it's the Julian; or is it the Gregorian? I forget). It may be that the rumours you heard are linked to these differences.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: GUEST,emmanuel
Date: 22 Apr 04 - 07:13 PM

El Greko,

Your comments on dianavan's questions were excellent. I might wish to offer a few more to express what I know about monasticism, and especially the Athonite tradition that Father Ephraim has made in America so that Dianavan might have a better understanding of Orthodox Monasticism.


The break with the family is often required for the spiritual betterment of the monk. We do not have this teaching for "brainwashing" the candidates. Rather, all of the connections must be severed from the outside world to become more Christlike, so that in loving Christ perfectly (as there are no outside concerns), maybe we can love others perfectly too. Orthodox do not make this up, it comes to us from the Holy Gospel. "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." Matthew 10:37-39.

In regards to father Ephraim, I find it important to explain what a spiritual father is to those in Orthodoxy. According to the traditions of Orthodoxy, explained very well by Archbishop Puhalo "the office of geronta or elder is an important and firmly established aspect of our Orthodox Christian life. It is very good to have somebody who has experience and knowledge that we can talk to and seek guidance from. The true "geronta," the true elder, like a trained physician, helps lead us to the healing grace of the Holy Spirit, comforting us, correcting us and strengthening us in our struggle. "

I must say that there are a very small minority who develop superstitions about the elder, and then develop a crippling dependency on him, which a true and divinely inspired elder would never, ever permit. From all that I know about Elder Ephraim, he is a devout man who loves the Orthodox Church and knows very well the spiritual implications of his guidance. I am sure that he has troubled spiritual children, but should not be judged on some over-devotion to his persona.

Dianavan, I hope that this might help you. May God bless you as you seek to understand the beauty of Holy Orthodoxy. Know that I pray for you, and all those on this forum, in their spiritual journeys.

brothers and sisters, forgive me,

emmanuel


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: dianavan
Date: 22 Apr 04 - 07:27 PM

El Greko and Emmanuel - Thanks so much for your explanation and your kind words. Saint Anthony's is a very beautiful place and it is astounding that it was built in only 10 years. I have never seen anything like it. It is as if the palace of the Lord has risen out of nothing but the desert sand. It is breathtaking.

I found great peace there.

Thanks,

Diana


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Uncle Jaque
Date: 22 Apr 04 - 11:14 PM

Back when I was sort of active in the Church, I taught a Bible Study on "Cults". As usual, a learned a lot more than I think I taught anyone.

I know nothing about this "Father Ephriam" other than what is posted here, so am certainly in no position to judge (as if that were any of my business in the first place).

But from what is shared here (thanks for your insight, bro. Emmanuel; I don't have a clue what you might need my forgiveness for, but for what it's worth you've got it!) I would not be too quick to start referring to what is going on out there as a "cult".

There are several established defining criterion, at least in the Evangelical Protestant Tradition, for a group, faction, or movement to qualify as a "cult" - and I really don't see any of that here.

A couple that I recall include;

"Extracannonical sources of authority" or "Bible in the left hand". Are there any writings of said Father E. which are held in equal or superior reverence to the Holy Scriptures, or to be just, if not more "Divinely Inspired"?

Would any of his precepts or commands supercede or "modify" scriptural mandate or message?

Is he or any other living individual considered to be a Divine intercessor or intermediary (Christ and the Holy Spirit alone being supposedly insufficient in this role)?
Are his proclamations considered to be "The Word of God" equal to or superceding Scripture?

"Exclusive Community of the Elect"; Do members of this fellowship believe that only they are the "chosen of God" and all others outside of their specific community will be dammned or attain a lesser eternal spiritual destiny in the afterlife than they will?
(Some pretty "mainline" denominations come pretty close on this one!)

Salvation by Grace AND "Works", rather than Saved by Grace alone (Sola Gratia)?
Admission to the Kingdom of God must be "earned" by adherance to strict rules, sacrifices, rituals and specified "good works".
"Grace" under such a system is only supposed to make all of our "points" "Count" towards Salvation, and is contrary to conventional Christian theology.

"Central Role in Eschatology"; Does this movement assume that it will play a pivitol or crucial role in the "End Times"?
Are these the only "elect" who are going to be raptured, for instance, leaving the reprobate infidel to suffer some sort of tribulation or eternal punishment?

There are a few more, but surely you get the gist of it, and can think of a few examples.

Now what I think we have here is an example of the ancient Monastic tradition in the midst of a modern culture that is very unfamiliar and in some cases uncomfortable with it.

This tradition predates Christianity in both Judaisim (The Essene Community comes to mind) and Eastern Religious Traditions.

This is where certain individuals are called - I think the Greeks used to call it "Sanctus" or "Set aside" (Don't we get the word "Saint" from that root word?) to a life of focused dedication to the Spiritual realm - prayer and meditation typically dominate the monastic lifestyle, and at least in the Christian Tradition, service of some sort to others in need is part of the committment.

The Monastic lifestyle is frequently a rather aescetic one, where the self and flesh are stringently denied in order to maintain focus on the Spiritual. I know that I could not cut it as a Monk, and I have profound respect for those who can, frankly.

This sort of tradition and lifestyle, needless to say, is going to be very foreign and even alarming to most inhabitants of a free, self-indulgant, materialistic and licensious culture like we have here in America in the 21st Century.

So I can see where a lot of people, even well-meaning Christians, might assume that some sort of weird, bizzare, or even cultic behavior was going on in there.

For all I know, it might be.
But I really don't think so.

Perhaps the Order might work on public education and outreach a little (they probably already do to some extent); that might help to resolve some of the fear... which in many cases is born of ignorance.
No doubt the charitable outreach mission of the Order helps in that regard.

Sometimes we just have to trust the Spirit to lead and direct in these instances; and from what I read in here about the spirit of peace that visitors to this place percieve, I am rather inclined not to worry about it too much.

Shalom in Yeshua'

"Uncle Jaque" - a Very UNorthodox Yankee Baptist };^{)~


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Mark Clark
Date: 23 Apr 04 - 12:42 AM

GUEST,emmanuel & El Greko, Thanks, both of you, for your high praise. Besides monastics and clergy, it's often the converts who have the strongest desire to learn. I'll never learn it all but I'm always trying to learn more. Still, the information in this thread is very much a community effort. I'm only a small part of it.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: dianavan
Date: 23 Apr 04 - 03:47 AM

Thanks, Uncle Jaque

You can find the stories of elder Ephraim on the net. I'm inclined to believe what you have said about cults vs. ancient monasticism in the context of western society.

I also believe that they are reaching to the outside world for understanding by admitting the public to St. Anthony's. There are dorms where the orthodox can arrange to stay if they wish to make a pilgrimage. It is definitely a place to go if you wish to pray. Being highly unorthodox, I can only say that I was awed by the grace of God in a very short time.

They make yummie peanut butter cookies, too.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Apr 04 - 02:58 PM

I suspect that in the past some monastaries "went sour" and took on some of the characteristics of cults. The leader (called abbot in Western tradition) will need to resist the temptation to place himself higher in the community's life than he deserves, and to place heaver burdens on the brothers than they can endure. Collectively, the brothers will need to resist the tempation to compare themselves to the outside world in sharp "whoever is not with us is against us" terms. They will need to remember that monastaries are for the weak, those who are not strong enough to deal with the push and shove of ordinary life. (Modern insight would resist calling them "weak" and instead say that they have different strengths and weaknesses from others.) As I noted above, I doubt that all monastaries and abbots have always resisted these temptations successfully. But Christian monasticism has been around long enough to develop balancing and self-correcting mechanisms, so there's probably no need to rush to judgment about any particular community.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Stephen R.
Date: 24 Apr 04 - 08:48 AM

I can't answer all of the questions raised here, but I can speak to some issues. The calendar: it is true that the Greek Church follows the New Calendar (for the fixed days of the month, this is the same as the Gregorian Calendar now followed by the Western world in general), while the monasteries on Mt Athos follow the Old (Julian) Calendar. However, Fr Ephraim's monasteries in the USA are on the new calendar; this is a concession to the Greek Archdiocese in North America, which, like the Church of Greece, is New Calendar.

In North America, the bishops were originally all from the Moscow Patriarchate; the Russian mission in Alaska gave them dibs on the continent. However, the revolution that put the Bolsheviks in control in Russia caused a chaotic situation too complex to describe here; the Russian bishops in the West split into several rival "jurisdictions," and non-Russians were unwilling to stay with them and got their own bishops. This is absolutely against the rules, but it happened, and now there are a number of different "jurisdictions," existing on an ethnic basis and also to some extent on different reactions to the crisis of the twentieth century. We Orthodox don't really like to lay so much weight on "jurisdiction"; we can be as nit-pickingly legalistic as anyone if the occasion seems to demand it, but we cannot forget--we are constantly reminded by our liturgical services--that the real issue is one of *being*; law is the handmaid of ontology. We are conditioned to think in ontological terms, and only secondarily in legal terms. But this situation is with us; even though the Church now contains many converts, one still goes to a historically Russian church (conceivably with not a single ethnic Russian member, although in my experience there are usually at least a few Russians), or a Greek church, or a Serbian church, or whatever. Some of these jurisdictions adhere to one calendar, some to the other, and some allow the parish to decide which to follow. Do you find this confusing? Believe me, so do we.

Monasticism is a great influence on us, because the monks have single-mindedly dedicated themselves to the task that the rest of us have to balance with worldly cares. By comparison to the monks, the rest of us are in a sense "part time" Orthodox--the world, as one of the greatest of English poets said, is too much with us. Monasticism produces some very gifted charismatic figures, and this is in general a positive thing--they counteract the distraction of worldly cares and call us back to our spiritual work. There is, as several have pointed out, a danger here also; people have always gone to such figures for spiritual guidance, and there have been several cases--I am *not* referring to Father Ephraim here!!--in which a monastic leader of this sort became a sort of demigod to his spiritual children and then led them astray, breaking from their bishop and ending up in an isolated splinter group or even with an imitation bishop. These situations right themselves in time, but they can cause a great deal of turmoil and grief until peace is restored. There are parallel phenomena in Protestantism and in Roman Catholicism and probably in all religions and in all other sorts of human communities; it is important for those who accept the spiritual guidance of such a person not to make him into a cult figure. It is dangerous for him and for us to do so. But let us look at the plus side: such occurrences are rare; they are possible because of the assaults we have endured during the twentieth century, and to recover from those assaults we need a lively monastic presence. Fifty years ago there was one fully-functioning Orthodox monastery in the United States. Now there are so many I can't keep up with them. Their presence deepens the faith of the parishioners, who might otherwise take Orthodoxy as a cultural form that was theirs simply because they were Greek or Romanian or whatever. Monks visit parishes and give talks; people visit monasteries and speak with the monks or nuns. And this is part of a world-wide revival of Orthodox monasticism; in the former Soviet Union, monasticism flowers after three-quarters of a century of repression had brought it nearly to extinction; in Greece, monasticsm restores the traditional norms that had eroded during the centuries of Turkish rule, leading to corruption and decline. Within living memory, it would not have been unreasonable for an outside observer to predict the extinction of Orthodox monasticism. Now no one would make such a prediction, and the result of the revival is a vibrant spiritual life in parishes as well as in monasteries.

For most of us, there are a number of things about the current state of the church that we don't like much. But compared to the spiritual life that it opens to us, they are insignificant; they are superficial blemishes that arise in the interaction between the Church and the World; in doctrine and worship and spirituality we can come into contact with the unblemished essence of Orthodoxy. We don't believe in works righteousness, but we are don't believe that God wants us to be sitting on our spiritual backsides either; to move your ego out of the center of your motivation is an unending struggle. Well, it certainly is for me. This is not something we must do to satisfy the offended justice of God, or to win brownie points; it is something we must do to heal ourselves (and we always know that it is not really we who heal ourselves, but as they say in the Black churches, "Pray like it all depends on God, work like it all depends on you"--God compels no one; he opens the door, but doesn't frog-march us through it).   

Mark and Emmanuel have explained most of the issues raised in this thread (Christos anesti, Mark and Emmanuel! Emmanuel, may your vocation be blessed!) Just so I don't get entirely off topic for this forum, or at least for this part of it, let me say that church singing is a great thing in Orthodox life, and that it has always interacted in complex ways with folk singing. Even so highly specialized a thing as the Byzantine chant, the _psaltiki_, of the Greek churches has in common with Greek folksong non-Western scales, methods of ornamentation, and so on. Those of us who are Orthodox and love folksong find a natural compatibility that might seem odd to those who go at folksong from the Marxist angle.

Stephen


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: Mark Clark
Date: 24 Apr 04 - 03:10 PM

Aleithos Anesti! Stephen. Al-Massih Qam!

Sorry I can't spell it using Arbic characters, I'll try to learn the Arabic spelling.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: dianavan
Date: 25 Apr 04 - 12:25 AM

The architecture of St Anthony's is amazing. The brick work is the most intricate I have ever seen. I wish I could hear the monks singing together. I did hear one of the monks singing quietly to himself while gardening.


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Subject: RE: folklore: Greek Orthodox Icons
From: GUEST,Volgodon
Date: 11 Nov 07 - 08:24 AM

In Russia many Pravoslavnies (the Russian Orthdox) assume that they do pray to the icon, for the saint depicted to take up their petition before God. Others, who are slightly more educated say that they don't pray to the image itself, but to the saint it depicts.


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