Since our Christmas number we have been grateful that our contacts have begun to supply us with material and news so as to make our coverage as complete as possible. In addition, I have been able to visit both Auckland and Dunedin in February, and gained a favourable impression of the health of Church life in both places. Attendances were good and it seems that a good foundation is being laid for the future.
In Auckland an Australian visitor brought us what will probably be news to us all in New Zealand: quite recently our Patriarch, Ignatius IV of Antioch, visited Australia, and our informant spoke of his visit to Western Australia with our Bishop Gibran.
It may be some time before Auckland has its own priest again, but efforts are being made to ensure that spiritual life is maintained. The Sunday School is operating again, and the Divine Liturgy will be able to be held at intervals. The ministry of Fr Deacon Michael Coumbias is proving valuable in holding the parish together, and we commend him to your prayers, together with the other leaders and the whole community.
On a visit to Dunedin at the end of February it was pleasing to see Fr Ilian and his family settled and enjoying the company of a good congregation who held a lunch in the presbytery (behind the Church) afterwards. Numbers have already increased perceptibly, and we pray that remaining arrangements will be soon settled, so that all can look forward to a long and fruitful work together in Dunedin.
I have just learned that Fr Ambrose was not well enough to make his visit to Christchurch during our absence in Dunedin. It has been our practice to encourage the congregation, who come out from Christchurch, to attend these bi-monthly services in the Russian Church. For the future, these should be the only interruption to the weekly Sunday Liturgy at Ashley at 11 a.m. Accordingly, I am printing all the information in the itinerary Fr Ambrose has sent, so that Christchurch people can be sure of the dates; the information about other centres may be of interest too.
I am grateful to Mr James Holland of Auckland for sending the material by Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) which appears in this issue.Fr Jack
ITINERARY for 1993
S.Nicholas, Brougham St,
February 28 April 25
July 25 September 26
December 18 (Saturday)
Pirie St Chapel, Wellington:
March 28 May 30
August 29 October 31
January 31 June 27
October 24 December 26
S.Michael, Palmerston North:
January 24 May 23
August 22 November 28
S.Mary Romanian, Wellington:
All other Sundays, i.e. the first three Sundays in every month except August 15, at
Our Lady of Kazan, Webb Street, Wellington.
THE HOUSE OF MY PILGRIMAGE AND OTHER ESSAYS
By John Coulson
Obtainable from the author at
18 Nelvin Ave, Mahoe
The author will be known to a number of our readers. In this small book he tells, first, the story of his journey into Orthodoxy, beginning from his childhood in the Anglican Church, through his art student days, his experience of God and his vocation to the priesthood, to his discovery that the Church around him no longer held the Faith he did, and that he must look elsewhere.
In the remaining essays he explores part of what he has found in Orthodoxy, while still acknowledging the value of what he had known in the Church of his childhood, which he builds on as he seeks to communicate the depths to be found in the Holy Tradition. His experience as an artist is apparent as he deals with icons and the visual appeal of the services of the Church. A more adequate review would need several readings, which this book will certainly repay.
The Member Churches of
the Conference of Churches
in Aotearoa New Zealand
CCANZ, P.O.Box 9049, Wn.
No price on review copy.
While not as spiritually nourishing as the book above, this small book does begin to fulfil a useful function. The last such attempt to make the member Churches of the (then) NCC known to each other was made in the 1950's. Of particular interest are the profiles of the Orthodox Churches in N.Z. which are members of CCANZ. These take the form of notes from interviews by Mrs Armstrong with representatives of the different jurisdictions, preceded by a general account which (at least in my interview) was submitted for comment and suggestions. This way of proceeding was probably occasioned by the failure of our Churches to respond, as other member Churches did, to the written questionnaire. This non- response (which seems to have been the reaction of all the Orthodox) does itself say something about the present relationship of Orthodoxy in general to the institutions of "Ecumenism", which has been expressed in communications to the WCC and to the NCCC in North America as well.
However, allowing for the difficulty of the task, the result is a useful beginning to introducing both the Orthodox, who are less well known than most, and the other Churches; the authors make it clear that they regard the book as a first step in a continuing process of mutual learning. Of particular interest to us perhaps among the contributions is that by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Christchurch, reflecting as it does a considerable international theological experience. Those by the other "mainline" Churches reflect a good deal of the evolution of their social thinking which has had a strong influence on the character of the CCANZ as it is today.
CALENDAR AND LECTIONARY
ACCORDING TO THE REVISED JULIAN (NEW STYLE) CALENDAR
The Orthodox Fellowship of Saint John the Baptist
Three Pounds from Mrs M R B Gerrard, 26 Denton Close,
Botley, Oxon OX2 9BW England
This little Calendar will be of excellent usefulness to any of our people who want to follow the daily services in the Byzantine Rite in the form that they have in the Greek Church and ours, but in English. It would be useful also to those who have to decide, in choir, what to read at the Sunday Liturgy - except for one thing: copies have never yet arrived, even if ordered direct, before the year has begun; and it is the time after Epiphany that often perplexes as to which Epistles and Gospels are to be read.
Accordingly. there will probably continue to be a need for our own little publication which is perpetual (at least until 1998 when the last accurate annual table runs out) and we shall continue to make it available. We are already making enquiries about Fr Meena's table after 1998, but as it was written in 1947, this is taking some time.- Fr Jack.
SERMON BY METROPOLITAN ANTHONY
preached on Sunday, May 12, 1991
I have been asked more than once "How should we read the Gospel so that it reaches not only our mind but our heart, and that it should not always stand before the eyes of our mind as an accusation, in which every act and word of Christ, every commandment condemns us; because we are not the kind of people who will act like Him, think and feel as He does, or who can accomplish what He commands?" Out of fear, out of discouragement, we can achieve nothing; we must read the Gospel as though the Lord Jesus Christ comes to us as our closest friend, as someone who cares for us more than anyone else, who not only vaguely wishes for our good, but who is prepared to do all for us - and I say all - that is possible, not only humanly, but as God.
Humanly, we know that Christ gave His life and His death for us, and divinely, that He opens to us the gates of eternity: "I am the door, whoever enters through Me will also enter into life eternal".
The first thing we must do when we approach the Gospel is to take it with reverence, with the sense that we are not only handling a book,not only going to read the words,but that this book, and the words which we read are the Word, God speaking, speaking through human words; and it is important that it should be through human words, because we cannot enter into the mysterious mind of God. Did He not say through Isaiah the Prophet "My thoughts are above your thoughts, and my ways above your ways"? But in Christ, it is in human words that He addresses us.
And then we must listen to what He says and look into what He does,look into all the situations which are depicted in one or another passage of the Gospel with reverence, with interest, with devotional awe, because it is He Who speaks to us; it is Him we see moving,acting, saving. And we must try to find our place in the crowd that surrounds Him, listen as though we were present when He actually spoke, listen as though we stood in the crowd while He was healing, saving, calling to repentance the people who came to Him, listening as though the words He spoke, as Saint Peter puts it in the Gospel, were words of life - not words of death; words capable of awakening in us all that is alive, both humanly and eternally, divinely; words of death in the sense that His words are meant to bring us to life, not condemn us even before our death.
This is a very important thing because out of fear, out of the sense of condemnation we will never achieve anything. And so, let us read the Gospel, looking for all those passages which reach us - not those which pass us by; passages which, to use the words of the pilgrims to Emmaeus, make our hearts burn within us while He speaks to us. Read those passages which, having set our heart afire, can also bring - or do also bring - life to our mind, move our will, stir us up for a new life.
Remember, or realise for the first time, that those passages show us that God and we at that point - it may be a very minute one - are of one mind, of one heart, that we have touched upon a point at which we are already, however germinally, the likes of God. It is a revelation of God to us, to discover that He is like us and we - like Him; it is a revelation also of ourselves: at this point, God and I are akin, we are alike; it is already a glimpse we have of the Divine Image within us and having discovered this we can add: Let me be faithful to that, because by being faithful to that, I will also be faithful to myself and faithful to God.
If we keep as a treasure, as a holy treasure, these glimpses which we have of our most wonderful divine self an the wonderful human self of God - then we can move on with joy, with inspiration; we can move on trying to become what we truly are. Of course, on this journey, we will feel that we have inner resistances, that we do not always want to be the best that we can be: and to that, other passages of the Gospel will respond, saying to us, "Beware, beware - if you accept this temptation or another, if you follow this course of life or thought, you are ruining yourself", because the commandments of Christ are not orders that He gives us but a description of what we should feel, wish and be, if we truly became human, worthy of our human nature and our human vocation which is to become the likes of Christ and partakers of His Divine Nature.
And if we do this, if we begin looking for everything that is beauty in us, already the image of God in us, revealing itself, as the sunshine dawns in the morning; it may not yet be bright midday, but it is always light, beyond the horizon perhaps - but it is light! - then we will get inspiration, and courage to face also the twilight and darkness in us; but creatively, in order to build and not in order to destroy. One does not destroy evil - one builds the good, in the same way in which one does not dispel darkness otherwise than by letting in the light.
So let us try, in the future, to read the Gospel, listen to it with reverence, with joy: God has come to me, He is speaking to me personally; He is revealing to me the beauty there is in me, and also warns me of what can kill this beauty: but He is on my side, He is my friend, my brother in humanity, and also my God and my Saviour.Amen.
FASTING, neither above nor below your ability, will help you in your vigil. One should not ponder divine matters on a full stomach, say the ascetics. For the well-fed, even the most superficial secrets of the Trinity lie hidden. Christ Himself set the example with His long fast; when He drove out the devil He had fasted for forty days. Are we better than He? "Behold, angels came and ministered unto him" (Matthew 4:11). They are waiting to minister to you, too.
Fasting tempers loquacity, says St. John Climacus. It is an outlet for compassion and a guard upon obedience; it destroys evil thoughts and roots out the insensibility of the heart. Fasting is a gate to paradise: when the stomach is constricted, the heart is humbled. He who fasts prays with a sober mind, but the mind of the intemperate person is filled with impure fancies and thoughts.
Fasting is an expression of love and devotion, in which one sacrifices earthly satisfaction to attain the heavenly. Altogether too much of one's thoughts are taken up with care for sustenance and the enticements of the palate; one wishes to be free from them. Thus fasting is a step on the road of emancipation and an indispensable support in the struggle against selfish desires. together with prayer, fasting is one of humanity's greatest gifts, carefully cherished by those who once have participated in it.
During fasting, thankfulness grows toward him who has given humanity the possibility of fasting. Fasting opens the entrance to a territory that you have scarcely glimpsed: the expressions of life and all the events around you and within you get a new illumination, the hastening hours a new, wide-eyed and rich purpose. The vigil of groping thought is replaced by a vigil of clarity: troublesome searching is changed to quiet acceptance in gratitude and humility. Seemingly large, perplexing problems open their centres like the ripe calyces of flowers: with prayer, fasting and vigil in union, we may knock on the door we wish to see opened.
Here we find the reason that fasting is often used as a measuring - stick by the holy Fathers: he who fasts much is he who loves much, and he who has loved much is forgiven much ( Luke 7:47). He who fasts much also receives much.
The holy Fathers recommend "moderate" fasting: one ought not to allow the body to be weakened too much, for then the soul, too, is harmed, Nor ought one to undertake fasting too suddenly: everything demands practice, and each one should look to his own nature and occupation. To choose among different kinds of food is to be condemned: all food is God- given, but it is advisable to avoid such kinds as add to the body's weight and appetite: strong spices, meat, spirituous drinks and such foods as are solely for the palate's enjoyment. For the rest, one may eat what is cheap and most easily available, they say. But by "moderate" they mean one meal a day, and that one light enough not to fill the stomach to satiety.The Way of the AsceticsWe are sorry that there are no photos with our news. Our correspondents have not sent any.