Tag and Memes and other Blog customs
Since Mimi did the tagging, it seems that I really can't nominate her yet again as a thinking blogger.
I know probably all of these have been nominated by others, but such is the quality of the blogs that I have to note them here:
2. John at Notes from a Commonplace Book
3. Mahmood at Mahmood's Den
4. Fr. Tobias at Second Terrace
5. Fr. Stephen Freeman at Glory to God for All Things
I recognize that nominating priests' blogs is a bit silly - they have far more important things to do than to play such games - all I hope from this is that you will visit their blogs and benefit from them. Mahmood Al Yusif is a blogger and free speech advocate from Bahrain - he takes extraordinarily beautiful photos and has much to say about the mood of moderates in the Middle East. One may not agree with all of his views, but one should listen seriously to him and to those who comment on his 'blog from time-to-time . . . it might dispel your current views of the Middle East and remind you, as it did and does me, that things are often much more complex than we often make them out to be.
John at Notes from a Commonplace Book has also tagged me with the 'four Saints meme' which requires me to list four fave saints [one blessed] with some notes on them, and who I think should be canonized.
1. Hilary of Poitiers - the nom-du-plume is in honor of him, and I credit him with an important role in my arrival at Orthodox Christianity.
2. Saint Photini, the Samaritan Woman at the Well at Sychar - I was received formally into the Catechumenate on the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman last year (after a year of 'unofficial' catechesis including catechesis classes). This is one of the richest texts in the Gospel of John, perhaps in all the Gospels. There are many lessons to be taken out of this Gospel, but I will just mention a couple that I have taken - feel free to slap me down if my thinking is wrong in this:
St. Photini (Equal to the Apostles) was a Samaritan, whose fathers worshipped God by sacrifices at their own mountain rather than at the temple in Jerusalem. She asks Christ about who is right, and he is fairly blut that the Samaritans 'worship what they do not know' but that the Jews worship what they know and that salvation is from the Jews (certainly true in that he is that salvation). In a sense this is an endorsement of what is 'orthodox' and what is not. There is correct worship and correct belief. However, note the movement of the story. The correct worshippers often reject Jesus, but here is the outsider accepting him and becoming a prolific witness, equal to the Apostles, and a martyr for Christ. Note also what Christ does not do: he does not endorse the 'institution' of Samaritan 'church' - but he recognizes individuals who are his own from within that community.
This is how I've come to understand the oft-discussed phrase of Bishop Kallistos: we know where the Church is, but we don't know where fully where She isn't (my paraphrase). This is not to say that institution "X" is possibly "also the Church" qua institution, but rather that individuals who may be in institution "X" may be, like St. Photini, actually one of the Church. Likewise, let us beware that we may find ourselves to be tares that will be separated from the wheat at the end.
3. St. Cyril of Jersusalem - I think his Catechetical Lectures are essential reading, and draw a portrait of early Christianity wherein we can see that modern Orthodoxy, is one faith with that of the Church that brought us the Symbol of Nicea and the canon of the NT.
4. The Blessed and Most Glorious Lady Theotokos - I have a tough relationship to our Lady as a result of my Protestant 'Restoration Movement' upbringing - nevertheless, her importance as the New Eve, as icon of the Church, and exemplar of a humble life in Christ I recognize as crucial and I pray for her intercessions.
Honorable mentions are St. John of Damascus and St. Ephrem the Syrian - and I resoundingly give my 'amen' to John (Terry) Cowan's comments about these Saints - I too have found St. Ephrem's Spiritual Psalter to be sublime and a constant devotional companion. It was hard to leave these two out of the list.
As to who might be canonized . . . I am almost as reticent as John, but if I might really stick my neck out here about someone who is unlikely to be canonized in the near term by the Eastern Orthodox, but who is IMO a true witness to Christ: I'll nominate Fr. Paulos Iskander the Syriac Orthodox Priest who was beheaded in Iraq this past year in retaliation for the Pope's remarks about Islam. He was killed because he was a Christian and was a convenient mark . . . he wasn't even of a community in communion with Rome. I hope that our Lord has received him as a true martyr of the Church and I hold him so - even though he died a member of a communion separated from the Eastern Orthodox. Perhaps one day we shall see the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, the two great conciliar communions, resolve the issue of how to handle the questions raised at Chalcedon and we shall be restored to complete communion, and perhaps in that day we shall jointly commemorate Fr. Paulos Iskander as a 'New Martyr.'
Finally - I guess I'll tag Mimi with the Saints meme since she seems to not yet have been tagged and I'm interested in her list.