28 February 2007

My Kind of Humor

I'm sure it's just me, but I thought this was funny.


27 February 2007

Ordination Pictures II

Bishop MARK vests Fr. John with the phelonion (chasuble)

Fr Dean Joseph Antypas (pastor of St George in Troy),
Bishop MARK, and Fr. John.

His Grace, Bishop MARK, presents Fr. John to the Church after the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.

At the end of the liturgy, Bishop MARK kisses the cross held by Fr John.

Khouria Julie kissing the cross held by Fr John.

26 February 2007

Ordination Pictures I

Below are pictures from my ordination as an Orthodox priest. Although I serve a Western Rite parish, I was ordained according to the Byzantine rite.

Archpriest David Lynch and Archimandrite Daniel Keller
(two Western rite priests) present Deacon John for ordination.

Bishop MARK blesses Deacon John so that he may be ordained.

Priest-elect John is led around the altar by his ordination sponors.

Bishop MARK ordains Priest-elect John Fenton while the Litany is sung.

Bishop MARK declares "Axios" ("He is worthy"), and the people respond by singing "Axios!"

Offering Nothing as if It's Everything

The following is an excerpt from the sermon preached last Sunday at Holy Incarnation Orthodox Church. For the full sermon, or to receive them regularly, subscribe to Holy Incarnation NEWS by sending an email to WestRiteDetroit-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. (NB: This is not a discussion list, but an announcement list.)

The devil’s great deception and lie is that he holds out nothing and calls it everything. He promises what he is incapable of giving, and offers what he can never bestow. We see as much in the three ways he tries to tempt Christ. First the one who can do nothing challenges the Son of God to do something. Then the one who has been cast down urges the One who has humbled Himself to deny His true Self. And finally, the one who owns nothing promises everything to the God who has all things.

By His answers and His refusal to succumb, Our Lord proves to us that the devil is capable of nothing, offers nothing, and has nothing. And by this, we see the way of salvation. The way of salvation is not making compromises between the Satan’s nothing and God’s everything. And the way of salvation is not choosing the Lord’s way when it is convenient or not a hassle. Rather, the way of salvation is recognizing that we are tempted to own, to have, to do and to be nothing; and in doing so, we forsake everything. And so the way of salvation is holding fast, by all means possible, to what we have received; and rejecting all that leads us away from the everything that Our Lord is and has and gives.

All that Our Lord is and has and gives the Father offers, and the Spirit opens our eyes to see and our mouths to receive, at this Holy Mass. Here the Lord takes not stones but the bread and wine we offer, and transforms them to be His own immaculate Body and His own precious Blood. Here the Lord does not cast us down, but lifts us up by entering our roof so that we may be healed. And here Our Lord offers not empty promise, but truly accepts us as communicants in His kingdom and partakers of His holy mysteries.

In short, Our Lord holds out everything to us, and gives us His all. And He does this so that, in Him, we might attain all that we were created to be. To this Lord Jesus Christ, then, together with His all-holy Father united with the Holy Spirit, belongs all glory, honor and worship.


After nearly three weeks, Blogger has deigned to grant me access to my blog. This has convinced me that it's time to post this forum elsewhere. Stay tuned.

06 February 2007

On the Radio II

Last Friday Paul Edwards, a local religious talk show host and the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, had a conversation with David Crumm and me about David's article in the 21 January 2007 Detroit Free Press.

I was "in studio" with Paul, whom I found to be fair-minded, pleasant, knowledgeable and more than able to articulate and defend his beliefs. I think we struck up a good relationship and I hope that I can have many more honest and open conversations with Paul.

If you would like to hear the program, click here. David and I are on the second half hour (minutes 26-63), and near the end of the time I address phone calls from listeners.

Observations on the Byzantine Ordination Rite(s)

In 1999 I purchased and studied Ordination Rites of the Ancient Churches of East and West by Paul F. Bradshaw. Following that study, I then looked into medieval and post-medieval ordination rites. I was struck by the fact that, in nearly all pre-Reformation rites, the man ordained as deacon or priest took no vows. Bishop-candidates often did, but not priest-candidates. In fact, the candidates for deacon or priest rarely said a word during the ordination rite.

I was reminded of this while preparing myself for the ordinations the Church will graciously confer upon me through the agency of my Bishop. I'm reminded of these two facts, plus one more--how brief the rite truly is.

In Byzantine rites, the form for conveying any sacrament is not said in the first person (e.g., absolvo te). The same is true of the ordination rite. On Saturday and Sunday, the bishop will declare:

The Grace Divine, which always healeth, that which is infirm, and completeth that which is wanting, elevateth, through the laying-on of hands, (NAME), the most devout Subdeacon [Deacon] to be a Deacon [Priest]. Wherefore, let us pray for him, that the Grace of the All-Holy Spirit may come upon him.
After the usual ektina led by the Deacon, the bishop then says a prayer beseeching the grace of the Holy Spirit. That's it. That's the rite: a declaration of what Grace Divine does, and a prayer that Grace Divine Himself will accomplish in this man what He does.

In all of this, I take great comfort in these words: "which...completeth that which is wanting." Those words specifically do not call into question, nullify, or abbrogate the baptisms, absolutions or communions that, by the Holy Spirit, I was undeservedly graced to administer for 16 years. Rather, those words declare that the Holy Spirit will make up, no doubt with unspeakable groanings, whatever is lacking in this unworthy candidate. And then will come these words of even greater comfort:

Do thou, the same Lord, fill with the gift of thy Holy Spirit this man whom it hath pleased thee to advance to the degree of Priest, that he may be worthy to stand in innocence before Thine Altar, to proclaim the Gospel of thy Kingdom, to minister the word of thy truth, to offer unto thee spiritual gifts and sacrifices, to renew thy people through the laver of regeneration.

The ordination of a Deacon
The ordination of a Priest