3rd Sunday after Pascha, Myrrhbearing Women April 22, 2018; Mark 15: 43- 16:8 Fr Andrew

Christ is Risen!

The Myrrhbearing women – those who had faithfully followed Jesus right to the foot of the cross, even when the other apostles had scattered and were hiding out – were on their way to properly anoint their beloved Lord’s precious body, according to the Jewish customs. This was an act of great love and courage, given that they expected a Roman guard of soldiers to be at the Tomb. They were faithfully going to show their love for their dear Lord, having no idea that from the moment His body died, His soul headed straight for hades, and that while they were waiting for the Sabbath day to end so they could go and properly anoint His dead and broken body; He was spending the Sabbath fulfilling all that He had been sent for, freeing the captives destroying Hades, binding the devil, and paving a path for us to follow Him to paradise!

Continue reading “3rd Sunday after Pascha, Myrrhbearing Women April 22, 2018; Mark 15: 43- 16:8 Fr Andrew”

2nd Sunday before Great Lent “The Last Judgement”

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The Last judgement (2nd Sunday before Lent) Matt. 25: 31-46 Feb. 19, 2017          Fr. Andrew

Today is the Sunday of the Last Judgement. In a week, we will have arrived at Forgiveness Sunday and the start of Great Lent. If you are a practicing carnivore like me, we have one last afternoon to hit our favorite hamburger stand, as this is also Meatfare Sunday.

Continue reading “2nd Sunday before Great Lent “The Last Judgement””

2016 Rector’s Report

Reflecting back on our first full year as resident Cranbrookian’s, we are thankful to God for bringing us to serve here with all of you very warm and open hearted St. Aidan parishioners! It has been a rather full year for us having purchased a rather large renovation project at the end of January and moving in to the rubble in March. Needless to say, this tuned into a pretty big project which took much of our focus until August or so. Preparing for the “Healing Earth” conference in October then took on a life of its own, not just for us but for many of you faithful St. Aidanites, as we hosted a successful and blessed event, bringing in 3 excellent speakers and having many people from outside of our parish come out. Thankfully we broke even financially, and more importantly, generated much good will for our little parish and had a blessed time of fellowship with the speakers and visitors. Other outreach activities also included hosting the film “Hellbound” to many non-St. Aidan people and finishing off our Thursday evening study “The Way.” The Thursday evening studies were a great blessing and one of my great disappointments this year was not being able to have the time to continue them. This is very high up on my 2017 list to re-start.

Immediately after the Healing Earth conference Matushka Sonia and I received word that our daughter in law Katherine had a very aggressive breast cancer and immediately had surgery and started strong Chemo treatments. She is presently about ½ way through her course of treatment and we remain optimistic, but covet your prayers for Katherine, Michael, John and Eliza. My Mother Dorothy at 89 was separated from her 93-year-old husband Art in November so we have been very occupied travelling and spending time in Calgary, helping her move into a senior’s facility and get her house ready for sale etc. Thank you for your prayers and patience with us as we have not been as available as we would like for the last few months.

Bringing Jason Gauthier into the Church through Charismation, baptizing little Elenora Pasivirta and having Jesse Weibe and Carole, Katrina, and Alec Damnjanovic join Donald Kirk and Cameron Pukas as catechumens has been a great blessing this last year. We are looking forward to having our dear Vladyks Irénée join us this coming year on bright Wednesday or Thursday (April 19, 20) to become little Ronan’s godfather when he is baptized. Little Ronan stole Archbishop Irénée’s heart when they met in Calgary for Deacon Paul’s ordination. Mark your calendars! Another personal highlight for me was being able to travel with my dear friend Dn. Kevin to re-establish my relationship with Fr. Gregory Papazian, Fr. Samuel and Brother Moses, and help them put a steel roof on their new hermitage. This year I am planning on spending some regular time taking 3-day retreats during the week at the hermitage.

A very big and blessed highlight for this year is the starting up of our St. Aidan’s bookstore by Sophia and Jessie! They are getting excellent prices on books, icon’s, cards, and Orthodox gift items and passing along these savings to us. The Orthodox culture is very much supported through Orthodox parish bookstores and a good barometer of any Orthodox parish is the health of its bookstore. You can’t find Orthodox books and gift items at any typical “Christian” store, and so you need to do on-line ordering – which many people just aren’t in the habit of, and which is much more expensive than the prices you get from our local St. Aidan bookstore. Sophia and Jessie have ordered some excellent books which will help you grow in your faith, and can order anything you would like including icons for your prayer corner or for gifts (or to donate to St. Aidan’s so your favorite saint is represented here with us when we worship)! You will get a better price than you ever could on-line with shipping factored in, and you will be helping support your church as well. A section of our website will eventually feature the bookstore, so you will be able to see what’s immediately available and shoot the Bookstore a request if you have a particular book, icon or other item you would like priced out and/or ordered. Thank you so much ladies! After several attempts to improve our web-site, all of them petering out mostly due to my lack of talent, time and ability, even when working with quite gifted IT types, we now have a decent start and I’m hoping that 2017 will be the year where we develop a first-rate web site for St. Aidan. Thanks to Peter Mielke from St. Peter’s and of course Andrew Feltham for getting us this far. Check it out and please send me your suggestions and help. www.saintaidan.ca

We have made good progress in getting our business affairs organized this year as well. Much thanks to Matushka Sonia and St. Peter’s treasurer Azmira who spent many days and hours getting our books set up on QuickBooks as well as our Treasurer Ellen. Thanks also to our newly charismated accountant Jason Gauthier, who Audited our books and help set up some of the trickier categories in QuickBooks as well. In preparation to purchase our church building from our landlord’s, Bishop Ken and the Ukrainian Catholics, we were also able to complete becoming incorporated this year, one of the first provincial incorporations under the new non-profit incorporation act which came into law in December 2016. Of course the big news of the year is the decision to proceed with the purchase of our building for $250,000 under the very favorable terms offered to us by Bishop Ken. They had a rough year in terms of paying for unexpected repairs such as the new underground water-line, the badly needed electrical service upgrade into the house and the new eavestroughs on the church. We are purchasing the building aware that we too will need to spend a fair bit of repair and maintenance money fixing it up. Next year we will have to do some upgrading to the roof structure and put a new roof on the church, replace the furnace and the galvanized plumbing lines in the house, and consider what else will need work in a priority sequence. It will be a joy however to know we are beautifying and upgrading our own building! We have been doing this all along of course. This year we built the children’s outside play center, added the beautiful icons of Archangel Michael and Gabriel, done by Priestmonk Vladiymir Lysak, to our deacon doors, added new icons to our Holy Doors and around the church, replaced the Altar and other covers, added a Holy Door curtain, etc. Thanks to all the volunteers for these projects.

One of the highlights of the year was of course the ordination of our dear Subdeacon Paul Bartlett to the Diaconate. We had more than 20 parishioners come to Calgary to add their “AXIOS” to the celebration. Deacon Paul and “Matka” Anastasia have been very faithful members of St. Aidan’s since the beginning. We have been double blessed to also welcome Deacon Kurt Jordan and Matushka Victoria into our parish family this year as well. This will be quite a wonderful liturgical change, going from one lonely priest to having two Deacon’s as well at many Liturgies! We will be working out some serving details over the next couple months, and I am greatly looking forward to being blessed to serve with two wonderful deacons. Kind of makes you wonder what God has in mind for St. Aidan’s. Great thanks is also due to Matushka Sonia and Leesha as they faithfully lay out the rubrics for every service. And to our music leaders Jessie and David Pasivirta and their unofficial fill-in who also leads many of the services by default, Matushka Sonia!

On the charity side of parish life, Denys and Sharon Scully headed up our efforts to help a little with the Syrian Refugee’s and we were able to throw in some support to the First Baptist group who sponsored a family. Locally we once again supported the Salvation Army in their homeless drive through helping with kettles and with a small donation as well as supporting the local food bank. We were able to really get a bang for our dollar by helping support Fr. Jonah in Kenya with his school children support program, as a dollar there does as much as a $20 over here. We also supported the 3 main OCA drives for Missions, Seminarians, and Charities; and have been faithful in our 10% tithe requirement to the Archdiocese.

As we start into 2017, please be sure to arrange for me to come and bless your house. From Theophany until the start of the Lenten Triodian (Feb. 5 this year) is the traditional house blessing time, although it can be done at other times of the year. There is a sign-up sheet at the back of the church or just give me a call or an e-mail request. This is one of the strongest traditions in the Orthodox Church and lets me (and Matushka Sonia if you wish) come and spend some one on one time with you and your family. I would like to do this at least once a year and preferably much more than this. It is good to give your home a spiritual cleansing and have a bunch of questions answered as well. Please have a list of your family members both living and reposed for us to pray for.

I’m always available for coffee to meet with you or your friends and family.

Much love in Christ…………fr. andrew 250-420-1582

Iconoclasm and the Seventh Ecumenical Council: The Council of Councils

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The seventh and last Ecumenical council held in Nicaea in 787, upheld the veneration of icon’s and instituted that relics be placed in the antimins cloth. This is the final Ecumenical Council recognized by the Orthodox Church, and has an honoured place among the seven councils. Its uniqueness is shown in that it is not included in the commemoration of the first six councils which are grouped together and commemorated in the Orthodox Church calendar on the Sunday between July 13 and 19,  but has its own date (Oct. 11) in the Church calendar. While there were many issues at play leading up to the calling of this council and continuing afterwards until the establishment of the “Triumph of Orthodoxy” in 843, the Christological significance of this council is the key to understanding its’ importance.

Some historians would state that the cause for the iconoclastic battle and ensuing bloodbath was simply political ambition, and a huge political struggle it certainly was. However, in this short essay I will attempt to show that while a bloody 117 year long battle (726-843 with relative peace between 787 and 814) was occurring, the theological issues at stake were the true cause of the battle. The Church’s’ understanding of our very salvation and eternal citizenship in the kingdom of heaven was at stake, as the nature of Christ and of what this understanding means to mankind was confirmed during this iconoclastic period. Foundational theology regarding man’s destiny in Christ (Theosis) was being defined. This understanding would be critical to works on this issue in later centuries by saints such as St. Symeon the New Theologian (who three centuries later would have his formation in St. Theodore’s Monastery of Studios in Constantinople) and St. Gregory Palamas. A couple of representative quotes from St John of Damascus illustrate this “By union with His person, that flesh participates in the divine nature and by this communion becomes unchangeably God”  and “For I have seen God in human form, and my soul has been saved.”  The lingering errors of subtle Origenian thinking, as well as many of the more obvious heresies were being dealt a final blow through the development of the theology of icons.

Complete article

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The “Filioque” Clause: Cause of the Great Schism Weapon of Power and Politics? Or Theological Heresy?

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Most faithful Orthodox Church members can rattle off 1054 as the date, and “the insertion of the Filioque (and the Son) clause to the Nicene Creed by Rome” as the reason for the Great Schism. The problem is usually understood – reasonably accurately but somewhat simplistically – as the Pope of Rome tampering with something he had no right to change, and attempting to usurp authority that was never granted to him by the rest of the Church. Considerably less common is a historical understanding of what led to this act, and what attempts were made to reconcile this tragic split between the two apostolic bodies of the Church. Was this event actually the cause of the Great Schism? This brief paper will attempt to assess whether the insertion of the Filioque was largely about power and politics, or if the theological implications are really the main issue; and if it warrants the reputation often accorded it as the cause of the Great Schism.

The earliest known use of the Filioque was in a regional Persian council in 410. The earliest commonly cited inclusion of the Filioque was in Spain at the 3rd Council of Toledo in 589, where it was used ill-advisedly but for good intentions, to combat Arianism, by attempting to highlight Christ’s Divinity. It would be another 200 years before it again surfaced as a political weapon, used in the hands of Charlemagne, the powerful ruler of the Frankish Kingdom (Germany, France, Italy) against his political adversaries in the Byzantine world. As early as 808, Pope Leo III had written a letter to Charlemagne, who was vigorously promoting the use of the Filioque. Pope Leo’s letter suggested that he had no theological issue with its use, but thought it unwise to change the wording of the ancient and universally accepted Creed. Leo even went so far as to have the original creed without the Filioque inscribed upon silver plaques and mounted on the walls of St. Peter’s in Rome.  In the middle of the 9th century, Rome had allowed the use of the Filioque in confrontations between Germanic missionaries under Rome and missionaries under Constantinople, when both were attempting to establish the Church in Bulgaria and competing to have the ruler, Khan Boris, side with them. This fuelled the divisive Photius Schism where St. Photius attacked the Roman Pope Nicolas for allowing the Filioque to be used in Bulgaria and exceeding his Bishop of Rome authority. Pope Nicolas tried to depose Photius, and Photius excommunicated Pope Nicolas in 867. The Emperor removed St. Photius as the Patriarch in the same year although he was later reinstated and canonized in the Eastern Church. However, the Fillioque clause had never been used in Rome itself before the coronation of the new German emperor Henry II in 1014. It is obvious that the events up to the fateful 1054 confrontation in Constantinople were highly charged with political intrigue.

Complete article in Word format

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The Orthodox Church Process of Canonization/Glorification, and the Life of Blessed Archbishop Arseny

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Introduction

The legacy of Blessed Arseny (Chahovtsov or Chagovstov) is very impressive. Fr. Matthew Francis, an OCA Priest who has done a great deal of research on him stated, “wherever he went things came to life, and the Church just came alive wherever he was.”1 As there is some controversy regarding his possible glorification, this paper starts by trying to clarify the rather indefinable process of glorification in the Orthodox Church. Hopefully, this essay will shed light on some undocumented aspects of Archbishop Arseny’s life and work. This paper by no means represents a finished product, as human holiness and saintliness is just too complex and varied to be defined in a neat package. I hope that this paper can perhaps help kindle a bit of renewed research and interest into the life of Blessed Archbishop Arseny, as there is still much that should be done and much more information that should be catalogued and/or translated if his life is to be understood and shared properly, especially as we consider his possible official glorification as saint and a proper inclusion in the Orthodox Church calendar. My gratitude is due to many people who allowed me to record their thoughts on Blessed Archbishop Arseny, and who clarified some aspects in the process of glorification in the Orthodox Church. Summaries of these interviews will be published under a separate cover.

Complete paper presented in Winnepeg

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