Monthly Archives: February 2008

Resurrection, imperfect

Sleep sleep old Sun, thou canst not have repast
As yet, the wound thou took’st on friday last;
Sleepe then, and rest; The world may beare thy stay,
A better Sun rose before thee to day,
Who, not content to’enlighten all that dwell
On the earths face, as thou, enlightened hell,
And made the darke fires languish in that vale,
As, at thy presence here, our fires grow pale.
Whose body having walk’d on earth, and now
Hasting to Heaven, would, that he might allow
Himselfe unto all stations, and fill all,
For these three daies become a minerall;
Hee was all gold when he lay downe, but rose
All tincture, and doth not alone dispose
Leaden and iron wills to good, but is
Of power to make even sinfull flesh like his.
Had one of those, whose credulous pietie
Thought, that a Soule one might discerne and see
Goe from a body, at this sepulcher been,
And, issuing from the sheet, this body seen,
He would have justly thought this body a soule,
If not of any man, yet of the whole.

John Donne, before 1633

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While clod returns to clod

Before the mountains were brought forth, before
     Earth and the world were made, then God was God :
And God will still be God when flames shall roar
     Round earth and heaven dissolving at His nod :
     And this God is our God, even while His rod
Of righteous wrath falls on us smiting sore :
And this God is our God for evermore,
     Through life, through death, while clod returns to clod.
For though He slay us we will trust in Him ;
     We will flock home to Him by divers ways :
     Yea, though He slay us we will vaunt His praise,
Serving and loving with the Cherubim,
Watching and loving with the Seraphim,
     Our very selves His praise through endless days.

Christina Georgina Rossetti, before 1882

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Metropolitan Kallistos, Part Three

Following on parts one and two, this is the final in the presentation of my notes from the discussion Building the Body of Christ given by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) at my parish church, Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension in Oakland. Please keep in mind that these are notes, and only seldom verbatim; I don’t write that quickly. As in the other sections, I’ve made an attempt to track down and present in full various quotations. Likewise, the “I” in these notes is Metropolitan Kallistos, not myself. We continue and conclude with this installment.


Saturday afternoon, 23 February: “Eternity in the Present: Baptism and Eucharist”

Last night there was a question that still needed answering, about the salvation of all. Will it happen that the majority are not save, and would that mean God has failed?

Answer: We cannot answer this. First Timothy [2.4]: God desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. The offer of salvation is made to all. In extreme forms of Calvinism, some are predestined to hell. The Orthodox have never believed that. The offer of salvation is to all. But in creating man with free will, God took a risk. He is a God of love and love requires freedom. Desiring a world of love, humans are all created with freedom of conscience. God’s love is infinite. But we are free. We can say Yes to God, or say Not to God forever, which is hell. God doesn’t wish anyone to go to hell. Some Christians have theorized that all would be saved, like Origen, an idea called apokatastasis. He was condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Council. Gregory of Nyssa believed the same. Isaac the Syrian hoped for the same, saying God does not requite evil, but sets evil aright. He found it a mystery. He couldn’t believe that God’s love would fail. It is false to say, with Origen, “All must be saved.” But it is legitimate to hope that all may be saved. In this we are confronted with something beyond our imagining. From Father Sophronius in his book on St Silouan:

I remember a conversation between him [St Silouan] and a certain hermit, who declared with evident satisfaction, “God will punish all atheists. They will burn in everlasting fire.”

Obviously upset, the Staretz [St Silouan] said, “Tell me, supposing you were in paradise, and there looked down and saw somebody burning in hell-fire—would you feel happy?”

“It can’t be helped. It would be their own fault,” said the hermit.

The Staretz answered him with a sorrowful countenance. “Love could not bear that,” he said. “We must pray for all.”

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Metropolitan Kallistos, Part Two

Today, the program of discussions led by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware), Building the Body of Christ, continued and concluded. Below are expansions of my notes for the first half of the day, which one should not take to represent precisely His Grace’s addresses to us. As notes usually, are, they pick up the gist of things, so must really only claim to be a set of somewhat interpretive abstracts. If I hear of recordings being made available, or transcripts thereof, I’ll post information on them. As in Part One, the “I” of these notes is Metropolitan Kallistos, not myself. We continue.


Saturday 23 February. Morning session: “Giver of Life: The Holy Spirit in our Daily Experience.”
My grandmother long ago once wondered, “Why is the Holy Spirit never mentioned in sermons? Hearing of Him is liking hearing news of an old friend one hasn’t heard of in a long time.” We will hear of news of this old friend today. St Symeon the New Theologian wrote this invocation to the Holy Spirit:

Come, true light.
Come, life eternal.
Come, hidden mystery.
Come, treasure without name.
Come, reality beyond all words.
Come, person beyond all understanding.
Come, rejoicing without end.
Come, light that knows no evening.
Come, unfailing expectation of the saved.
Come, raising of the fallen.
Come, resurrection of the dead.
Come, all-powerful, for unceasingly your create, refashion and change all things by your will alone.
Come, invisible whom none may touch and handle.
Come, for you continue always unmoved, yet at every instant you are wholly in movement; you draw near to us who lie in hell, yet you remain higher than the heavens.
Come, for your name fills our hearts with longing and is ever on our lips; yet who you are and what your nature is, we cannot say or know.
Come, Alone to the alone.
Come, for you are yourself the desire that is within me.
Come, my breath and my life.
Come, the consolation of my humble soul.
Come, my joy, my glory, my endless delight.

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Metropolitan Kallistos, Part One

Tonight I attended the discussion with Metropolitan Kallistos I mentioned earlier, titled “My Lord and My God: Personal Faith in Christ, the Savior.” There were roughly five hundred people in attendance. Below I expand my notes as far as my memory will allow, in order to share what His Eminence shared with us this evening. If recordings or a transcript are made available of these, I’ll post about them. In the meantime, these will give you at least an outline of his talk. Please note that the “I” in the below notes represents Metropolitan Kallistos, not myself. We begin.

~ + ~

The title of this talk is “My Lord and My God: Personal Faith in Christ, the Savior.” That “My Lord and my God” is a quotation of St Thomas the Apostle [John 20.28], his words of recognition and acclamation at recognizing the risen Christ. Though he is often referred to as “Doubting Thomas” it would be better to refer to him as “Believing Thomas” for he travelled from doubt to belief. Note the very personal nature of this acclamation: my Lord, and my God. This personal relation is something for all of us. It is not just that some time ago, as an historical even, Christ was born, was crucified, and died, but that Christ is born for me, was crucified for me, died for me.

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An Eminent Best

Our parish, Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascenscion in Oakland, California, is hosting Building the Body of Christ: A Weekend of Spiritual Enlightenment with Bishop Kallistos Ware. His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia is the well-known author of The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way, and among the translators of The Philokalia of St Nikodemos the Hagiorite and several books of translation of Orthodox liturgical texts, among other things.

Here is the schedule:
Friday 22 February
7:00 pm: Refreshments
7:30 pm: First Discussion: “My Lord and My God: Personal Faith in Christ, the Savior”

Saturday 23 February
9:30 am: Registration and Refreshments
10:15 am: Second Discussion: “Giver of Life: The Holy Spirit in our Daily Experience”
12:00 noon: Lunch provided
1:00 pm: Third Discussion: “Eternity in the Present: Baptism and Eucharist”

Sunday 24 February
9:00 am: Orthros (Matins)
10:00 am: Divine Liturgy with Homily by Metropolitan Kallistos
12:15 pm: Luncheon with Metropolitan Kallistos

The registration for Friday and/or Saturday is $25.00. One may pay at the door, of course. Sunday’s Orthros and Liturgy are, of course, free. The suggested donation for the Sunday lunch is $15.00 ($5.00 for students).

Last Sunday, our priest mentioned that His Eminence will also be having high tea on Saturday with college-aged young adults. Sounds like fun!

Our priest mentioned that people are flying in from across the country for this. If you plan to attend, let me know. I’m also planning to be there.

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Mishnah Comparison Chart

I’ve just posted a comparison chart detailing the coverage of the tractates of the Mishnah in the Tosefta, the Talmud Yerushalmi, and the Talmud Bavli. It should prove useful as a general reference.

As one can see in the chart, the Tosefta gives the widest coverage, with the Yerushalmi and Bavli providing coverage of roughly two-thirds of the Mishnaic tractates, and different ones at that, though they do both cover a number of tractates. The only tractates to have no presence in Tosefta and the Talmuds are Abot, Middot, and Qinnim. In the case of Abot, this is likely because it was added to the Mishnah some time later than its original compilation. Middot and Qinnim were likely excluded due to their subject matter, being the measurements of the Temple precincts, and complications related to bird sacrifices, respectively.

As always, suggestions for improvement are welcome.

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