Figuring Out Religion

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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Mountaineer » Sat Sep 29, 2018 3:02 pm

Xan wrote:
Sat Sep 29, 2018 2:06 pm
Happy Michaelmas, everyone! (Except possibly Ad O, for whom it's a different day.)
Same to you. Our congregation celebrated Oktoberfest today as well; an outreach event to the community - hundreds attended and the parking lot was overflowing. Brats, hot dogs, sauerkraut, German potato salad, pretzels, beer, soft drinks, water, and lots of yummy deserts (no green jello though ;D ). Bouncy house for the kiddies, face painting, pumpkin painting, local orchestra played outside in beautiful sunny temperate weather. All at no charge for everyone who showed up. Lots of great conversations.
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Ad Orientem » Sat Sep 29, 2018 5:55 pm

Image

Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers (Nov 8 ns/21 os)

The Synaxis of the Chief of the Heavenly Hosts, Archangel Michael and the Other Heavenly Bodiless Powers: Archangels Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Selaphiel, Jehudiel, Barachiel, and Jeremiel was established at the beginning of the fourth century at the Council of Laodicea, which met several years before the First Ecumenical Council. The 35th Canon of the Council of Laodicea condemned and denounced as heretical the worship of angels as gods and rulers of the world, but affirmed their proper veneration.

A Feastday was established in November, the ninth month after March (with which the year began in ancient times) since there are Nine Ranks of Angels. The eighth day of the month was chosen for the Synaxis of all the Bodiless Powers of Heaven since the Day of the Dread Last Judgment is called the Eighth Day by the holy Fathers. After the end of this age (characterized by its seven days of Creation) will come the Eighth Day, and then “the Son of Man shall come in His Glory and all the holy Angels with Him” (Mt. 25:31).

The Angelic Ranks are divided into three Hierarchies: highest, middle, and lowest.

The Highest Hierarchy includes: the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones.

The six-winged SERAPHIM (Flaming, Fiery) (Is 6:12) stand closest of all to the Most Holy Trinity. They blaze with love for God and kindle such love in others.

The many-eyed CHERUBIM (outpouring of wisdom, enlightenment) (Gen 3:24) stand before the Lord after the Seraphim. They are radiant with the light of knowledge of God, and knowledge of the mysteries of God. Through them wisdom is poured forth, and people’s minds are enlightened so they may know God and behold His glory.

The THRONES (Col 1:16) stand after the Cherubim, mysteriously and incomprehensibly bearing God through the grace given them for their service. They are ministers of God’s justice, giving to tribunals, kings, etc. the capacity for righteous judgment.

The Middle Angelic Hierarchy consists of three Ranks: Dominions, Powers, and Authorities:

DOMINIONS (Col 1:16) hold dominion over the angels subject to them. They instruct the earthly authorities, established by God, to rule wisely, and to govern their lands well. The Dominions teach us to subdue sinful impulses, to subject the flesh to the spirit, to master our will, and to conquer temptation.

POWERS (1 Pet 3:22) fulfill the will of God without hesitation. They work great miracles and give the grace of wonderworking and clairvoyance to saints pleasing to God. The Powers assist people in fulfilling obediences. They also encourage them to be patient, and give them spiritual strength and fortitude.

AUTHORITIES (1 Pet 3:22, Col 1:16) have authority over the devil. They protect people from demonic temptations, and prevent demons from harming people as they would wish. They also uphold ascetics and guard them, helping people in the struggle with evil thoughts.

The Lowest Hierarchy includes the three Ranks: Principalities, Archangels, and Angels:

PRINCIPALITIES (Col 1:16) have command over the lower angels, instructing them in the fulfilling of God’s commands. They watch over the world and protect lands, nations and peoples. Principalities instruct people to render proper honor to those in authority, as befits their station. They teach those in authority to use their position, not for personal glory and gain, but to honor God, and to spread word of Him, for the benefit of those under them.

ARCHANGELS (1 Thess 4:16) are messengers of great and wondrous tidings. They reveal prophecies and the mysteries of the faith. They enlighten people to know and understand the will of God, they spread faith in God among the people, illuminating their minds with the light of the Holy Gospel.

ANGELS (1 Pet 3:22) are in the lowest rank of the heavenly hierarchy, and closest to people. They reveal the lesser mysteries of God and His intentions, guiding people to virtuous and holy life. They support those who remain steadfast, and they raise up the fallen. They never abandon us and they are always prepared to help us, if we desire it.

All the Ranks of the Heavenly Powers are called angels, although each has its own name and position by virtue of their service. The Lord reveals His will to the highest ranks of the angels, and they in turn inform the others.

Over all the Nine Ranks, the Lord appointed the Holy Archangel Michael (his name in Hebrew means “who is like unto God”), the faithful servitor of God, as Chief Commander. He cast down from Heaven the arrogantly proud Lucifer and the other fallen spirits when they rebelled against God. Michael summoned the ranks of angels and cried out, “Let us attend! Let us stand aright before our Creator and do not consider doing what is displeasing unto God!”

According to Church Tradition, and in the church services to the Archangel Michael, he participated in many other Old Testament events.

During the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt he went before them in the form of a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Through him the power of the Lord was made manifest, annihilating the Egyptians and Pharaoh who were in pursuit of the Israelites. The Archangel Michael defended Israel in all its misfortunes.

He appeared to Joshua Son of Navi and revealed the will of the Lord at the taking of Jericho (Josh 5:13-16). The power of the great Chief Commander of God was manifest in the annihilation of the 185,000 soldiers of the Assyrian emperor Sennacherib (4/2 Kings 19:35); also in the smiting of the impious leader Heliodorus (2 Macc. 3: 24-26); and in the protection of the Three Holy Youths: Ananias, Azarias and Misail, thrown into the fiery furnace for their refusal to worship an idol (Dan 3:22-25).

Through the will of God, the Chief Commander Michael transported the Prophet Habbakuk (December 2) from Judea to Babylon, to give food to Daniel in the lions’ den (Dan. 14:33-37).

The Archangel Michael disputed with the devil over the body of the holy Prophet Moses (Jude 1:9).

The holy Archangel Michael showed his power when he miraculously saved a young man, cast into the sea by robbers with a stone about his neck on the shores of Mt Athos. This story is found in the Athonite Paterikon, and in the Life of Saint Neophytus of Docheiariou (November 9).

From ancient times the Archangel Michael was famed for his miracles in Rus. In the Volokolamsk Paterikon is a narrative of Saint Paphnutius of Borov with an account of Tatar tax-gatherers concerning the miraculous saving of Novgorod the Great: “Therefore Great Novgorod was never taken by the Hagarenes... when... for our sins the godless Hagarene emperor Batu devoured and set the Russian land aflame and came to Novgorod, and God and the Most Holy Theotokos shielded it with an appearance of Michael the Archangel, who forbade him to enter into it. He [Batu] was come to the Lithuanian city and came toward Kiev and saw the stone church, over the doors of which the great Archangel Michael had written and spoken to the prince his allotted fate, ‘By this we have forbidden you entry into Great Novgorod’.”

Intercession for Russian cities by the Most Holy Queen of Heaven always involved Her appearances with the Heavenly Hosts, under the leadership of the Archangel Michael. Grateful Rus acclaimed the Most Pure Mother of God and the Archangel Michael in church hymns. Many monasteries, cathedrals, court and merchant churches are dedicated to the Chief Commander Michael.

In old Kiev at the time of the accepting of Christianity, a cathedral of the Archangel was built, and a monastery also was named for him. Archangel cathedrals are found at Smolensk, Nizhni Novgorod, Staritsa, at Great Ustiug (beginning of the thirteenth century), and a cathedral at Sviyazhsk. In Rus there was not a city where there was not a church or chapel dedicated to the Archangel Michael.

One of the chief temples of the city of Moscow, the burial church in the Kremlin, is dedicated to him. Numerous and beautiful icons of the Chief Commander of the Heavenly Hosts are also in his Cathedral. One of these, the Icon “Blessed Soldiery,” was painted in the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. The saintly soldiers, Russian princes, are depicted under the leadership of the Archangel Michael.

We invoke Saint Michael for protection from invasion by enemies and from civil war, and for the defeat of adversaries on the field of battle. He conquers all spiritual enemies.

Holy Scripture and Tradition give us the names of the Archangels:

Gabriel: strength (power) of God, herald and servitor of Divine omnipotence (Dan 8:16, Luke 1:26). He announces the mysteries of God.

Raphael: the healing of God, the curer of human infirmities (Tobit 3:16, 12:15)

Uriel: the fire or light of God, enlightener (3 Ezdras 5:20). We pray for him to enlighten those with darkened minds.

Selaphiel: the prayer of God, impelling to prayer (3 Ezdras 5:16). He prays to God for mankind.

Jehudiel: the glorifying of God, encouraging exertion for the glory of the Lord and interceding for the reward of efforts.

Barachiel: distributor of the blessings of God for good deeds, entreats the mercy of God for people.

Jeremiel: the raising up to God (3 Ezdras 4:36)

On icons the Archangels are depicted in according to the character of their service:

Michael tramples the devil underfoot, and in his left hand holds a green date-tree branch, and in his right hand a spear with a white banner on which is outlined a scarlet cross, or sometimes a fiery sword.

Gabriel with a branch from Paradise, presented by him to the Most Holy Virgin, or with a shining lantern in his right hand and with a mirror made of jasper in his left.

Raphael holds a vessel with healing medications in his left hand, and with his right hand leads Tobias, carrying a fish for healing (Tobit 5-8).

Uriel in his raised right hand holds a naked sword at the level of his chest, and in his lowered left hand “a fiery flame.”

Selaphiel in a prayerful posture, gazing downwards, hands folded on the chest.

Jehudiel holds a golden crown in his right hand, in his left, a whip of three red (or black) thongs.

Barachiel is shown with a white rose on his breast.

Jeremiel holds balance-scales in his hand.

Each person has a guardian angel, and every nation also receives its own guardian angel from God (Dan. 10:13). When a church is consecrated, it also receives a guardian angel (Palladius, Dial. Ch. 10).
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Xan » Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:05 pm

I had always wondered exactly what the "thrones" were in "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones". Thanks, Ad!
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Mountaineer » Sun Sep 30, 2018 5:04 am

Xan wrote:
Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:05 pm
I had always wondered exactly what the "thrones" were in "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones". Thanks, Ad!
Xan: For more on "thrones" see Ezk 10:1 - there is a reference to it on a footnote of Col 1:16 in my Study Bible - TLSB (ESV).

Ad: Thank you for that information you provided. Very interesting.
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by jacksonM » Wed Oct 03, 2018 2:02 pm

My wife and I tend to avoid discussions about religion but we just had one today. It had to do with the fact that her elderly father and her sister are desperately trying to move out of the house they grew up in because it is haunted with spirits and is making them sick. They live in a third world country and although they are nominally Catholic, I think their religion is just a veneer that was placed upon their already superstitious belief system. My wife never goes to church and knows practically nothing about the Bible or the Christian faith beyond what she absorbed by osmosis in church. I'm not a Christian but I would say my own knowledge exceeds hers by orders of magnitude.

My wife swore that the house had been haunted by spirits all of her life and everyone has known this. As evidence she offered that one time she was on the back porch doing laundry and she could actually feel one of them touch the back of her head.

Which got me thinking - okay, you were on the back porch doing laundry - was there a sewer pipe nearby and where did the water come from? The answer was yes, there was a sewer pipe and the water came from a well.

So I suggested they have the house, the sewer pipe, and the well tested for the presence of carbon monoxide or some other form of gas. That suggestion fell on completely deaf ears. Because - in my limited experience growing up in America I have no idea that these things are actually real. I'm finding it very disconcerting that they won't take my advice but at this point I know it's time to shut my mouth. It probably is a good idea for them to move out of the house but not for the reason they think. I suspect the person they are going to rent it to will also make the discovery that it is haunted by spirits.
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Ad Orientem » Wed Oct 03, 2018 2:48 pm

I am an Orthodox Christian, so by no means do I dismiss the possibility of things existing that we cannot fully comprehend or that do not conform to our accepted laws of nature and science. That said, my first response to claims of hauntings, spiritual obsession or possession is deep skepticism. A Roman Catholic priest with experience in these areas asserted that 99% of such reports have perfectly rational explanations. Still. I have icons in most rooms of the house and every year after Theophany each room of the house is blessed with Holy Water. There are places and things that one needs to be very wary of.
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by jacksonM » Wed Oct 03, 2018 3:26 pm

Ad Orientem wrote:
Wed Oct 03, 2018 2:48 pm
I am an Orthodox Christian, so by no means do I dismiss the possibility of things existing that we cannot fully comprehend or that do not conform to our accepted laws of nature and science. That said, my first response to claims of hauntings, spiritual obsession or possession is deep skepticism. A Roman Catholic priest with experience in these areas asserted that 99% of such reports have perfectly rational explanations. Still. I have icons in most rooms of the house and every year after Theophany each room of the house is blessed with Holy Water. There are places and things that one needs to be very wary of.
Not only do I not claim to be a Christian but I also don't claim to be a scientist. Having said that I think most scientists would probably agree with the first sentence you wrote. If Einstein had simply accepted that Newton had all the answers, he wouldn't have looked any further to uncover the things he did about space/time, quantum mechanics, etc.

My stepson had one of those "Holy Water" ceremonies when he and his bride bought their first house. The priest went from room to room with all the visitors, speaking some incantation while he sprinkled the water, apparently with the idea that this would keep the evil spirits from getting in. I'm not one to make fun of anyone's religious beliefs as long as they are harmless, but sorry, I wasn't buying it. They also have holy water in third world countries so why does it not work there?

In the case of my wife and her family, I don't think this is a harmless belief.
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Xan » Wed Oct 17, 2018 10:01 am

Ad Orientem, I'd be very interested to hear your take on this.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45870939
In a major religious split, the Russian Orthodox Church has cut ties with the body seen as the spiritual authority of the world's Orthodox Christians.

The break came after the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople recognised the independence of the Ukrainian Church from Moscow.

The row is being described as the greatest Orthodox split since the schism with Catholicism in 1054.
The root of the whole thing seems to be Russia's takeover of the Crimea, and the church at Constantinople deciding that Ukraine should be back under its purview rather than Moscow's.

Isn't Moscow and Constantinople excommunicating each other a HUGE deal?

IIRC, America is in Russia's zone for Orthodoxy. But I'm not sure how that works, exactly, because there are certainly many other flavors of Orthodoxy around here too. Maybe Ad O can shed some light.
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Ad Orientem » Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:01 pm

The internet is not big enough to cover the complexities of this sad, and scandalous situation. The Moscow Patriarchate (MP) and the Ecumenical Patriarchate (EP) have a centuries long history of often chilly relations, with blame to go around. In recent years the Russian Church has been accused, not without some justification, of being too close to the government of V.V. Putin. And the EP has been trying to claim powers and authority that go far beyond the honor traditionally accorded to the First Throne and Primus inter Pares. This was exacerbated when the MP along with a number of other local Orthodox churches refused to play along with the EP's council on Crete that Bart has tried to pass of as an Ecumenical Council. From my perspective this is very political. But I think the EP has overstepped himself. Not a single canonical local Orthodox church has recognized what the EP is claiming and several have sharply criticized him for activities that are threatening the peace and unity of the Church.

At the moment there is a lot of back-channel diplomacy going on and it is possible that a pan-Orthodox Synaxis may be convened to settle this mess.

FWIW my own take is that the EP is behaving like some kind of Orthodox pope and his actions are grossly uncanonical. I am no great fan of their playing along as Putin's state church but the Russians are on solid ground here with church canons and I think they had no choice but to break communion with Constantinople in the face of such brazen provocations. I just hope that this does not become a long term schism. The EP's position under the canons is important. But like them or not, the Russian Orthodox Church has a little over 1/3 of the world's Orthodox Christians under their omiphorion. And whatever their politics (most of their bishops are monarchists) they are solidly Orthodox. No modernist milquetoast from them. The EP has sadly been a bit squishy on some important issues in recent years.
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Xan » Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:08 pm

Thanks, Ad O. All very sad. Hopefully, as you say, this break will be very short-lived.

Out of curiosity (and it's completely none of my business) is your church a Russian Orthodox? Or something else? Also, is it possible for a member of any Orthodox, er, patriarchy(?) to join a church in a different one? Or do you have to be re-catechized and reconfirmed, etc?
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Ad Orientem » Wed Oct 17, 2018 5:57 pm

Xan wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:08 pm
Thanks, Ad O. All very sad. Hopefully, as you say, this break will be very short-lived.

Out of curiosity (and it's completely none of my business) is your church a Russian Orthodox? Or something else? Also, is it possible for a member of any Orthodox, er, patriarchy(?) to join a church in a different one? Or do you have to be re-catechized and reconfirmed, etc?
I belong to the Orthodox Church in America . It used to be the old Russian Metropolia here in the United States. The OCA was granted independence by the Russian Orthodox Church in the early 1970's and today is in communion with all of the worlds other canonical local Orthodox churches. All canonical Orthodox churches are typically in full sacramental communion with one another (the current schism is an extraordinary and unusual situation). We all share the same faith and sacraments and (normally) one can attend churches under another jurisdiction and commune the sacraments without any issue as long as you respect their rules. It's best to ask the blessing of the priest if you are visiting another parish under a different jurisdiction just to be sure. In Orthodoxy baptism is a one time deal and if done validly, it is never repeated. Chrismation, in the west commonly referred to as Confirmation, is usually also a one time deal. Although I have heard of rare cases where formal apostates were re-Chrismated if returning to the Church after a long period of separation .

I should add here that the situation is very unusual in the United States as we have multiple jurisdictions in the same geographic area. This is not normal and is a result of the history of immigration here coupled with the confusion caused by the Russian Revolution. North America was originally under the jurisdiction of the Russian Church but the era of Communist persecution forced many to limit their ties with the Moscow Patriarchate.
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Mountaineer » Wed Oct 17, 2018 6:57 pm

There was an interesting description of why the Orthodox schism is a big deal on "The Briefing" this morning, October 17. A lot of history was discussed. https://albertmohler.com/the-briefing/.
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