Friday, August 31, 2012

Paralympic Games, Judo

Officially, the first Paralympic Games were held in Rome 1960. In fact, the second biggest sporting event in the world began 12 years earlier, at a Buckinghamshire hospital. When Dr. Ludwig Guttmann noticed two of his wheelchair-bound patients passing a pebble between walking sticks, he started to develop the idea of an event to show sport was accessible to all, including the disabled. 

The result was the first Mandeville Games in 1948 , created by Guttmann, who founded the National Spinal Injuries at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, (hence the Paralympic Mascot's name being Mandeville). That was a two day archery competition between two teams of paraplegics. It happened to start on the same day as another event Britain was staging that year, the 1948 London Olympic Games. That is why Lord Coe told the crowd at the Olympic Stadium, "It is my great honour to say welcome home to the Paralympics Games". On the other hand, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, stated that the Paralympics will "inspire a lot of people and change people's views on disability". 

During the first day of the Paralympics Judo athletes showed the crowds there capabilities of winning, in the Excel, East London. Judo's one-on-one battles can be tough, tense and explosive, with visually impaired and  deaf athletes competing in contests lasting five minutes. 

Scores are awarded for throws, holds, armlocks and strangles. The contests ends immediately if a competitor is awarded 'ippon', i.e. the maximum score. However, if a contest is tied after five minutes, there is a golden score period where the first score of any sort wins.     
Being a spectator in the Excel, watching Judo, but also the crowds of people who went to the first day of the Paralympic Games, it is inspiring to see athletes, with a certain disability, achieve their goals of obtaining a Parlaympic medal.  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Translating Liturgical Texts from Ancient Greek to Modern Greek

KOINONIA, the journal of the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association (A.E.C.A.) has published one of my articles, entitled: "Translating Liturgical Texts from Ancient Greek to Modern Greek". The Editor of the journal, Peter Doll,  introduces this article, in the Editorial, with the following:

"The Greek Church still worships and reads the Scriptures in the language of the earliest Christians. This is an enviable place to be in many ways, but the Greek of the Church is largely incomprehensible to present-day Greeks. As Dimitris Salapatas points out, however, using modern language in the liturgy does not ensure that modern believers understand the Church's way of life, its symbols and beliefs. Whether the Greek Church chooses to retain the ancient language of the liturgy or to 'transcribe' it into Modern Greek, a concerted programme of education is needed to help contemporary believers recover a deep understanding of their faith". (KOINONIA, The Journal of the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association, New Series No. 59, Trinitytide 2012, ISSN No. 0012-8732).

A copy of the article is posted on this blog, in order to have a digital copy of it. It is as follows:

Translating Liturgical Texts
From Ancient Greek to Modern Greek

 Dimitris Salapatas 

Many books and articles have been written explaining, supporting or disagreeing with the motion of translating the liturgical texts from Ancient Greek to Modern Greek. There are many reasons for maintaining the ancient language and there are also grounds on translating the liturgical language of the Greek Orthodox Church. The two opposite views are based on various ideas and beliefs which are important. The question, however, is which view one respects, prefers and wishes to follow and which stance will the Church support now and in the future.
First of all, before analysing this important and crucial for the future of our Church issue, it is essential to understand that any translation is nothing more than “approximations, always no more than attempts to convey in the grammar, idiom and vocabulary of one language what was originally expressed in those of another”[1]. This is the case especially when referring to the poetic and melodic language used for liturgical purposes.
In this discussion, which has not yet become a crucial dispute (i.e. there are views on this matter but it has not been such a great problem in order to bring schism within the Orthodox world) but might in the future, has two distinct groups of supporters. The ones suggesting the translation of the liturgical texts within the Orthodox Church, state that modern Greeks (and by Greeks here I mean the people living in Greece, Cyprus and the diaspora but also those who speak the Greek language) do not understand the language of the Liturgy or that of any other ceremonies within the Church. This inevitably concludes the absence of many believers, especially the youth, from the Ecclesiastical Body. Another argument supported by the same category of people is that the holy texts have been translated in most languages. So why can they not be translated into Modern Greek? The opposite view has also a great number of supporters, who express the traditional notion of maintaining the original Greek text, which also proposes the protection and preservation of the Tradition as they understand it, whilst the original Greek language is understood as playing an important part within Orthodox life. This is clearly a stance which stays afar from any kind of modernisation or change.  
Here we will analyse whether the translation is to be supported or dismissed as a solution, in order to bring back to the Ecclesia more people, especially the youth. However it is crucial to point out that many aspects of the Orthodox Church’s traditions and life are for many outdated, but due to this maintenance of its traditions it has kept its dogmas and beliefs untouched, even through difficult epochs. Faith and belief are important in order to follow and fully understand not only the Liturgical texts but the Church’s life as a whole.
The Orthodox Church does not believe or dictate the theory which the Catholic Church has and promotes, i.e. the logic of accepting only the holy languages (Hebrew, Greek, Latin), although it has changed its stance towards this since the Second Vatican Council where it allowed the use and translation of the Liturgy into other languages. ( “Following the pattern of the new edition of the Roman Ritual, particular rituals are to be prepared as soon as possible by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority...These rituals, adapted to the linguistic and other needs of the different regions, are to be reviewed by the Apostolic See and then introduced into the regions for which they have been prepared”[2].
Orthodoxy has always encouraged the usage of other languages, hence for example the translation of the Bible and many Church texts by the brothers Cyril and Methodios from Thessaloniki to the Slavic nations. That is why it is difficult for the supporters of translating the texts to understand why the Church today cannot and will not try to translate the Liturgy from Ancient Greek to Modern Greek. However, in this case we are not talking about translation due to the fact that we are not seeking to translate the original text to another language but to transcribe it to the modern form of the same language, as George Seferis named this procedure when he himself transcribed St. John’s Apocalypse, explaining how he did not wish to explain the Apocalypse but his aim was to transcribe it to the modern form of Greek.[3]  Modern Greek is also called “demotic”; Metropolitan Ierotheos of Nafpaktos explains that “the demotic language cannot be understood as a foreign language”[4], to that of the original Greek of the New Testament.
What is essential is that the Liturgical language has a holy aspect due to the fact that it is the language used in order to pray and communicate with God. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew states that “even eminent philologists claim that the text of the Divine Liturgy happens to be one of the masterpieces of Greek Literature. For this reason the centuries have respected this text not adding a single jot or tittle”[5]. Even the Church Fathers, when writing their texts and liturgies they used the highest form of Greek and not the everyday language of their era. In addition, as my former Professor Fr. George Metallinos states, “the language of one people is not merely a means used to just communicate and inform, but also a unique and irreplaceable institution (carrier) of its historical, spiritual and social fortune. Language in all of its timeless course and practice saves the culture of the Nation and it broadcasts it to the next generations, retaining its continuance”[6].
Even if a translation or transcription is actually realised will this truly solve the problem? If I am to take into account the practices of the Orthodox Church in Great Britain I will have to give a negative answer, disappointing the supporters of the translation proposed. Past experiences show that even when many churches within the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain have the Liturgy in English, where the prayers and the hymns are fully understood, believers and especially the youth do not attend Church. On the contrary fewer people follow the Liturgy in English than the one celebrated in the original Greek. So maybe the problem should be searched possibly elsewhere. “Many Christians have not been admitted through experience within the Church”[7]. That is why, also, they do not even know the common and simple prayers, such as the Lord’s Prayer. Theological terminology as well is not understood, when for example a theologian talks about Economy within the Church secular understanding dictates that the theologian is discussing a financial theory, whilst he is explaining God’s plan for creation.
A translation will probably give the opportunity to the faithful  to understand the Liturgy intellectually, but when faith is not present then the true meaning of the words spoken, chanted or read will not be fully understood. If the necessity is to understand the Liturgy like a newspaper, where information is merely given to us then unfortunately the true meaning of Christianity is not recognised. Christos Yiannaras states that “access to the meanings of sacred texts is certainly a function of living and being within the epicentre of the ecclesiastical body and a spiritual endeavour – individual understanding of the signifiers is not enough”[8]. This reminds us of the Theology on the Holy Trinity. It is interesting to understand that whilst the Church has used human words and secular means (for example shapes and diagrams) to comprehend and explain what and who God is, it has yet not come close into understanding Him in full. We merely recognise and explain what has been shown to us by God. How could creation understand the Creator? It is naive of man to think that he could intellectually understand God, while at the same time he cannot figure out creation and the world which surrounds him.
Nikolaos Kavasilas points out that “the man at the Divine Liturgy apart from any other means is sanctified with the viewing of the acts as well”[9], pointing out that by being there and watching what is happening in front of him suffices. When explaining about the Liturgy he emphasises how they all represent the Divine Plan, ‘Θεία οικονομία’, of Christ, sanctifying the participants and believers in order to receive the Body and Blood of the Son of God. A symbolism exists in order “to not only think with our mind but to see with our eyes... this symbolism was created so the Divine Plan is not only given with words but also to our eyes... in order for it to have an effect on the soul, introducing within us not only the theory but also passion”[10]. It is imperative everyone understands the ontological meaning of the Liturgy and that, as St. John Chrysostom explains in his Homily 16 (On the Epistle to the Hebrews), the Liturgy ‘despite being celebrated on earth, our service is in heaven and is of heaven’.
Another central point for the supporters of maintaining the Liturgical language as it has been for the past two thousand years is that by translating the texts the historical, theological practical and traditional meanings of the words and phrases will not be able to be preserved; or even if they are they will have to be explained in many words or paragraphs in order to grasp why a specific word is used in a certain passage.
It is, I believe, imperative to give a case study to underline the problematic issue which the Church will have to eventually solve. A good example of the various problems produced by a translation or a transcription process into Modern Greek is the distinction suggested by Origen, when he explains St. John’s Gospel. He states that there is a certain difference between “ο Θεός” and “Θεός”. “The former means what we mean by God the Father, in other words it is effectively a proper name, while the latter means what Nicea will mean by ‘consubstantial with the Father’”[11]. Translations can only paraphrase whilst trying to point out the intended meaning. This of course can be achieved through an explanatory sentence which should come after every word or sentence of the Bible. This phrase comes from St. John’s Gospel (John 1:1), “Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος”. The New King James Version translates the same line as follows: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. A Μodern Greek translation of the same phrase, translated by the Metropolis of Dimitriados in Greece (2001), reads: “Απόλα πριν υπήρχε ο Λόγος κι ο Λόγος ήταν με το Θεό, κι ήταν Θεός ο Λόγος”. The Latin Vulgata translation is: “In principo erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud Deum et Deus erat Verbum”.  As Father Ephrem Lash states, the Latin language is unable “to preserve the distinction in the Greek between the word God with and without the definite article, since it does not have a definite article”[12]. English does not use the article in front of a name hence it is also unable to maintain the distinction found in the original text. So here we have just one example of how problems occur when translating to another language that does not have the same grammatical rules with the original text. However in the Modern Greek translation the article is kept and the distinction is obvious, as it is in Ancient Greek. This difficulty of translation brings me to the next point.
One strong argument, that the supporters of translating the Liturgical texts into Modern Greek have, is that the Bible has already been translated into most languages. This is not a modern practice, as one can easily identify in any book of Church History; on the contrary it is an ancient one which helped spread Christianity all over the world. One of the first examples of this achievement is of course the translation of Cyril and Methodios from the original text to Slavonic. Cyril (Constantinos) came up with the glagolitikon alphabet (also known as the Cyrilic Alphabet), and with Methodio’s and their students’ help they achieved to translate the liturgical parts of the Holy Bible and the liturgical books.  Through this sacred endeavour many things were achieved, such as the entry into the Christian world of millions of Slavs, who understood the Liturgy and the Bible, they acquired an alphabet and for the first time their language was written. These are the important results of achieving the translation of the liturgical texts into another language.
The Slavonic paradigm is in no way the only one observed during the Byzantine period. Another example is the establishment of the Russian Church and also before that we had the translation of the Greek text into the language of the West, i.e. Latin. It is evident that this has been an ongoing practice within Christianity, and specifically within the Orthodox Church, since the belief of the three holy languages has never existed in the East. That is why one sees with a critical stance the view stated by Professor George Babiniotis, when he expresses that we should not translate the Liturgy, since it is a mystery; words, he claims, lose their meaning when translated from one language to another. However this has been the Orthodox practice for centuries. Somehow this argument is beginning to have a chicken and egg effect.  
A question many ask is why the non-Greek Christian world should understand what is said and chanted in the Liturgy and the Greek world should remain in the ‘dark’. It is a difficult question to answer when the practice of the Church is to translate the texts into various languages in order for the people to understand the Liturgy. However here we come to the point stated earlier, that in the case examined in this paper we are not looking at translating the text from one language to another but we are specifying in transcribing it to a more modern form of the same language. Maybe a suitable answer which would mediate in this case and help towards solving the problem would be that a translation not into ‘popular’ Modern Greek (known also as dimotiki), meaning daily life language, but into a higher form of Greek (katharevousa) which could be understood today would be a good start. Possibly this is the answer for both groups disagreeing on this topic. However a debated view could be that those frequently attending Church services are in a position to understand the meaning of the liturgical texts. Additionally we are reminded of the ancient Greek saying “τα αγαθά κόποις κτώνται”, i.e. “The good things can be achieved only with great effort”. Nevertheless, it is obvious that both groups of this argument have a strong point to make, but eventually they base their views on the different opinions they maintain in order to explain their beliefs on the matter.
It is understood that, amongst other things which form a nation, tradition and religion, language plays a key part. Maintaining language is crucial, as seen vividly around the world, where for example Greeks preserve (via the schools under the auspices of the Church) the Greek language. “As the biological life is passed on from generation to generation, in the same way the cultural life of one nation is passed from generation to generation”[13]. On the other hand we should not underestimate the fact that as humanity changes and adjusts to the modern world, so does the language used in all the cultures. A plain example is the introduction of new words to our vocabulary, for example ‘coca cola’, ‘internet’, ‘car’, which did not exist during the writing of the Bible. However these words exist today. Others would also claim that the modern form of Greek is much poorer than ancient Greek. In many ways this is a universal belief but we should not dishonour our modern language which has evolved through many historical, cultural, sociological, political, philosophical and linguistic changes which have occurred in the past 2000 years. Modern Greek has actually incorporated all of these variations. Disregarding this linguistic evolution, inevitably results in the death of a language as a living organ which evolves and changes according to the factors stated above.
The philosophical and theological background is of paramount importance in the process of understanding the Church’s view. The Church has as practice a certain way of life, spiritual exercise, diligence and effort. These are some of the reasons in maintaining the original language. Modernists argue that they do not have time to understand and study what is taught by the Church and that they should be “fed” the information quickly in order to comprehend and play a role in the Church’s life. However, although they expect this from the ecclesiastical society, as well as many other things, they do not realize how Christianity works; no one is born a doctor, a solicitor, a scientist, an historian. The same applies to Christianity. In order to live as a Christian one must put a great deal of effort into it. Then and only then will someone appreciate the depth and richness of Orthodoxy and live according to the teachings of the Bible.  
Each Christian has a personal responsibility in order to understand scripture and the Liturgical texts. As St. John Chrysostom explains in his 11th Homily, “I desire to ask one favour of you all... That each of you take in hand that section of the Gospels which is to be read among you on the first day of the week, or even on the Sabbath, and before the day arrive, that he sit down at home and read it through, and often carefully consider its contents, and examine all its parts well, what is clear, what obscure, what seems to make for the adversaries, but does not really so; and when you have tried, in a word every point, so go to hear it read. For from zeal like this will be no small gain both to you and to us. We shall not need much labour to render clear the meaning of what is said, because your minds will be already made familiar with the sense of the words, and you will become keener and more clear-sighted not for hearing only, nor for learning, but also for the teaching of others”[14]. This last point is very important in understanding that prayer and church attendance is not to be understood individually but as a society of believers communicating with God. Language is just one part of ecclesiastical life which contributes towards a greater understanding of the Orthodox life. This is emphasised when referring to prayer. An Orthodox would not just ‘say’ his prayer but ‘do’ his prayer. The difference is that in order to pray a believer does not just say some words but uses all five senses.
What does one seek to gain from the Liturgy? According to Stanley Harakas “in the Divine Liturgy, we meet the real presence of Christ in the elements of the Sacrament and in the forgiving, elevating and fulfilling presence of Christ in our lives”[15]; This view emphasises that full understanding is not the essence of Orthodoxy. Let us not forget how the Church challenged and reacted to the Gnostic books which underlined the importance of knowledge, as seen vividly for example in the Gospel of Judas. The main ontological element of Christianity is not knowledge but salvation, which can be reached through knowledge’s experience and belief. Knowledge on its own is not what the ecclesiastical tradition dictates.   
Any future change in the liturgical language within the Greek Orthodox world will produce many problems and issues which will have to be dealt with. These have already been expressed. Some reservations are understandable and others quite absurd. Byzantine music is an essential matter. What will happen if a translation is actually enforced? Ancient Greek and Byzantine music have joined harmoniously. However, through the use of Byzantine music in other languages (i.e. English, Arabic, Romanian and Slavonic) it is evident that minor differences will occur, but this is not a serious deterrent. Another view is that if the language will change then other traditions and features will also transform or disappear. Iconography is seen as a language, hence the saying ‘one icon equals a thousand words’. Leonidas Uspenski notes: “For the Orthodox Church the icon is a kind of story which expresses its dogmas and its commandments so well, as language... They are like a mirror which reflects the spiritual life of the Church and where through it one can judge the dogmatic battles of each epoch”[16].  Some also suggest that even the priest’s vestments will have to change in order to comply with the dressing forms and habits of the modern world. However, although time has a different meaning within the Church, as stated by the hymns, we are not referring to modernising the Church in all of its aspects.
A modernisation process has certainly occurred, whether people accept it or not.  When electricity was introduced an issue within the Ecclesia was whether each Church should adopt electricity and a sound system. Even though this is not an important issue, it was one which divided the hierarchs and many theologians expressed conservative views on this matter, especially referring to how the Church should maintain its tradition by keeping the candles and by not permitting electrical devices. So it is apparent that changes occur within the Church and customs may alter, just like the hymns within the Ecclesiastical tradition starting from Kontakion on to Kanons or even the introduction of psalms and hymns which did not exist previously, for example the Lamentations in front of the Epitaphios on Good Friday which were established in the 15th century AD. This highlights the Byzantine Liturgical evolution, which stopped after 1453 and the fall of Constantinople. However a change was brought to the Byzantine music in the 19th century, by Hourmouzios the Hartofilaks, Gregorios Protopsaltis and Metropolitan of Dirrahio Xrusanthos Prousis[17], with the introduction of the new musical writing, minimising the symbols used, making it less difficult for anyone to learn. This new notational writing is the one used today in the Greek Orthodox Church, nevertheless the music is maintained.
Will a future translation transform someone into participating more ontologically and spiritually than superficially? A pragmatic answer has to be a negative one, since this cannot be achieved without the full understanding of the symbolic language used within the Church. It is a belief within the Ecclesiastical Body that with intensive efforts not to translate literally its texts but to teach its symbolic language will help the modern believer take part in the Church’s mysteries and achieve his goal, which is salvation. It is important to identify that in this modern epoch the new catechumens are not people coming from outside the Body of the Church, but its members; they are the people who were baptised from a very young age but who have never been properly instructed within Christianity.  According to Anthony M. Coniaris, “Baptism is like the planting of the seed of faith in the human soul. Nourished and fed by Christian training, catechesis, in the family and in the church school, the seed of faith will grow to produce a mature Christian”[18]. This is an important point, similarly expressed by Likourgos Aggelopoulos, a very famous chanter in Athens, that the Church should teach its members the language of the Bible, as it did in difficult periods in the past, retaining in that way the Greek language. This could be the solution to this “dispute”.
Analysing and emphasising the above arguments we come to understand that this issue will not easily be discarded by both parties. A balanced view regarding this matter is the one expressed on 14th of April 2010, where the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece concluded that this subject will continue to be discussed in Synodical meetings and in collaboration with the Theological Schools and “when this discussion matures and is considered necessary, it will enter the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece, which is the highest ecclesiastical administrative body, in order for it to be dealt Synodically”[19]. This I believe shows how the Ecclesiastical Body is willing to discuss and maybe adopt any change, if of course this is accepted by the whole body of the Church, a practice used since the first Apostolic Synod in Jerusalem.
I would like here to propose a personal opinion as a solution to this debate, which could be a starting point in the process of resolving this complicated matter. It would be wise, I believe, to form a group of scholars, theologians, teachers, professors, bishops and linguists who will form a new ‘Septuagint’ group, taking in to account the previous Septuagint who translated the Old Testament from the original Hebrew to Ancient Greek. The translation into Modern Greek produced by these specialised scholars will then have to be approved by a Synod, preferably the future Pan-Orthodox Synod, if it ever takes place, or even a Synod of all the leaders of all Greek speaking Orthodox. This will be the first step in achieving a catholic acceptance of the translated text, avoiding the negative results of the first translation of the Liturgical texts into Russian, resulting in a second translation or a change in the liturgical language after a period of time, as is the case now with a new English-language translation of Mass, which would be closer to the Latin, within the Roman Catholic Church. Their argument is that “a universal church should have the closest thing possible to a universal missal”[20]. This is what I believe could work within the Orthodox World, where an agreed translation from a new Septuagint group could be achieved. However, in Georgia this has happened, where a team of four people have just finalised the translation of the four Gospels into Modern Georgian, using as a base the Ancient Greek and Ancient Georgian texts; this of course was done with the blessings and support of the Patriarch of Georgia Elijah II. Maybe the Greek Orthodox Church could see this as a first paradigm and eventually follow it, when it sees that the right time has come.
In the eventual case of the adoption of one and approved transcribed biblical text, this could be used during the Sacred Services. Greece and Cyprus could learn from the diaspora. A practice in many ecclesiastical communities within the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Gr. Britain is the reading of the Apostle and the Gospel in both the original language and English. Maybe the Greek speaking world could adopt this practice and read biblical texts from both Ancient Greek and Modern Greek. Also many of the translated texts can be written with Byzantine notation, as is the case in the Archdiocese of America, where Byzantine music and the English language have been combined.  Many will argue that when a priest preaches he explains in Modern Greek the Liturgy and the Gospel. However, it has been suggested that this, in many respects, is not enough.
Another key point which could facilitate the resolution of this issue in the Greek world is the existence of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in publications having both the original and the translated version, into for example English, as is the case with the reprinted book of ‘The Divine Liturgy of our Father among the Saints John Chrysostom’. In the preface of this new book Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain writes, “This translation, undertaken under the leadership of the Very Revd Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne Ephrem Lash has been particularly well received, no doubt due to the clarity and rhythm of the language that the translator has used, whereby words and phrases which even experts in Greek liturgical scholarship have had difficulty in understanding and translating properly and accurately have been traced to their patristic origins and roots and have been rendered in a fashion that is both direct and meaningful”[21]. This shows how a small Septuagint group in this case was formed in order to translate the Liturgy from the original Greek to English; maybe this can be considered as a good and practical solution.  An interesting question could be why can’t this happen in the case of transcribing the text to Modern Greek? Would the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Gregorios be wrong to support such a translation into Modern Greek? Undoubtedly not. But it seems that the Greek world, including priests and laity, are indecisive at the moment to take action in resolving this matter, whether they are for or against any future transcription.  
It is evident that there are two solutions to this serious issue. On the one hand we have the translation of the Liturgical texts into Modern Greek, which would be a long and hard process. On the other hand we have the prevalence of the original text, which has to be supported by the Church as a whole. The latter solution evidently means that the Ecclesiastical Body will have to teach not only the Ancient Greek language, in order for everyone to understand it better, but also its way of life, its symbolisms and beliefs. Then and only then will the Church see the fruits of its work reveal themselves and will acknowledge the issue analysed here as a minimal and unimportant one. Education is key in this respect.
A change, however, will most probably occur, whether it initiates in the Mother Lands or the Diaspora. Although I do believe that a choice should be given to each Archdiocese or Ecclesiastical Body, whether to celebrate in the original language or Modern Greek. However any decision taken should be accepted on a Pan-Orthodox level. Sacramental Inter-communion has to be preserved within the Orthodox World. This issue should in no way be seen as a new reason to have a future schism within Orthodoxy. Ecclesiastical life should be more understood, maintaining its richness and purpose, i.e. salvation, whether this suggests the teaching of the Ecclesiastical practices and traditions to the believers and maintaining the original Greek or the eventual transcription of the Liturgy into Modern Greek.   

[1] Lash, Ephrem, Translating Liturgy,, accessed 03/05/11, 19.15
[2] Abbot, Walter M., The Documents of Vatican II, (London, Geoffrey Chapman, 1967), p. 159
[3] «Δεν γύρεψα ναποσαφηνίσω την Αποκάλυψη, πράγμα που έκαμαν άνθρωποι εγκυρότεροι από εμένα....θέλησα να μεταγράψω το παλαιό κείμενο στη σημερινή λαλιά μας.», I Apokalypsi tou Ioanni, Metagrafi Giorgos Seferis (Athens, Ikaros, 1975), p. 12
[4] “η δημοτική γλώσσα δεν μπορεί να νοηθή ως ξένη γλώσσα”,, accessed 25/04/11, 18.12
[5] The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain and the Very Reverend Archimandrite Ephrem Lash, The Divine Liturgy of our Father Among the Saints John Chrysostom, (Nigel Lynn Publishing, Oxfordshire, 2011), p. viii
[6]“Η γλώσσα ενός λαού δεν είνει απλά ένα όργανο στιγμιαίας επικοινωνίας και πληροφόρησης, αλλά και μοναδικός και αναντικατάστατος φορέας της ιστορικής, πνευματικής και κοινωνικής του περιουσίας. Η γλώσσα σε όλη τη διαχρονική της πορεία και χρήση αποταμιεύει τον πολιτισμό του Έθνους και τον μεταδίδει στις επερχόμενες γενεές, εξασφαλίζοντας έτσι την συνέχεια του”, Metallinos, Georgios, Sighisi-Proklisi-Afipnisi, (Athens, Ekdosis Armos, 1991), p. 124
[7] “Οι πολλοί χριστιανοί δεν έχουν εισαχθεί βιωματικώς στην Εκκλησία”, Fr. Lagouros Athanasios, Ναι ή Όχι στη Μετάφραση της Λειτουργικής Γλώσσης, (Εκδόσεις Τήνος, Athens, 2010), p. 15
[8] “ Η πρόσβαση στα σημαινόμενα των ιερών κειμένων είναι οπωσδήποτε συνάρτηση του εγκεντρισμού στο εκκλησιαστικό σώμα και άθλημα – δεν αρκεί η ατομική κατανόηση των σημαινόντων”. Giannaras Chr., To αίνιγμα του κακού, (Εκδόσεις Ίκαρος, Athens, 2008), p. 182
[9] “...ο άνθρωπος στην θεία Λειτουργία αγιάζεται και με την θέα των πραττομένων”, Vlaxos, Ierotheos Archimandrite, Anatolika, Vol A, (Athens, Iera Moni Genethliou tis Theotokou (Pelagias), 1989), p. 102
[10] “για να μην σκεφτόμαστε μόνο με τον νου, αλλά και να βλέπουμε κατά κάποιο τρόπο με τους οφθαλμούς...επινοήθηκε αυτός ο συμβολισμός, ώστε αφ’ ενός μεν να μη δηλώνη μόνο με λόγια τα γεγονότα της οικονομίας, αλλά και φέροντάς τα εμπρός στους οφθαλμούς...ώστε να επιδρά ευκολώτερα στις ψυχές, και να εισαχθεί μέσα μας όχι μόνον απλή θεωρία αλλά και πάθος”, Nikolaos Kavasilas, Peri tis en Xristo zois, (Paterikes Ekdoseis Grigorios o Palamas), p. 34-45 
[11] Lash, Ephrem, Translating Liturgy,, accessed 03/05/11, 19.15
[12] Lash, Ephrem, Translating Liturgy,, accessed 03/05/11, 19.15

[13]“Όπως η βιολογική ζωή μεταβιβάζεται από γενιά σε γενιά, έτσι και η πολιτιστική ζωή ενός λαού μεταβιβάζεται από γενιά σε γενιά”, Vlaxos, Ierotheos Archimandrite, Anatolika, Vol. A, (Athens, Iera Moni Genethliou tis Theotokou (Pelagias), 1989), p. 97
[15] Harakas, Stanley, S. Living the Liturgy, (Minneapolis, Light & Life Publ. Co.,  1974), p.26
[16] “Για την Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία η εικόνα είναι κάποια γλώσσα που εκφράζει τα δόγματά της και τις εντολές της τόσο καλά, όσο και ο λόγος...Είναι σαν ένας καθρέπτης που αντανακλά την πνευματική ζωή της Εκκλησίας και που μέσ’απ’ αυτόν μπορεί να κρίνει κανένας για τους δογματικούς αγώνες κάθε εποχής”, Uspenski, Leonidas, I Ikona, (Athens, ekdoseis Papadimitriou), p. 15
[17] Mavragani Diamanti, Sintomi Istoria Ekklisiastikis Byzantinis Mousikis, (Athens, 1999), p. 52-53
[18] Coniaris, Anthony M., These are the Sacraments, (Minneapolis, Light and Life Publishing Company, 1981), p. 26
[19] “όταν ωριμάσει η συζήτηση, και κριθεί αναγκαίο, θα εισαχθεί στην Ιεραρχία της Εκκλησίας της Ελλάδος, η οποία είναι το ανώτατο όργανο διοικήσεως της Εκκλησίας, προκειμένου να αντιμετωπισθεί Συνοδικώς”,, accessed 15.15.2011, 16.42
[21] The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain and the Very Reverend Archimandrite Ephrem Lash, The Divine Liturgy of our Father Among the Saints John Chrysostom, (Nigel Lynn Publishing, Oxfordshire, 2011), p. ix

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius Conference

The Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius had its annual conference in High Leigh, near London, between the 20th-23rd of August. The theme of this year's conference was "Repentance, Confession and Spiritual Direction". It was an interesting gathering, which analysed this topic, giving Orthodox, Anglican and Roman Catholic views, showing the similarities and also the differences in practice and in theory. The unique factor of the Fellowship conferences is that in its program there is a chance to witness and take part in both Anglican and Orthodox Liturgies, respectively. 

The Conference began with a lecture given by the Secretary, Archpriest Steven Platt, entitled "Repentance, confession and spiritual direction - some thoughts of an Orthodox parish priest". He explained that repentance is Μετάνοια (Metanoia) that is a change of mind, of heart, or being and of orientation. We are disorientated, hence we have the fall of man. The parable of the Prodigal Son was used in order to explain how through the son's disobedience he felt the need to go back to the Father (repentance). Sin is a state of lawlessness (ανομία), transgression is missing the mark -which is Christ (αμαρτία), whilst (finally) infirmity makes us ill (ασθένεια). Sin, as described by Fr. Stephen, is a virus, an illness whereby we have no energy to react against it. Sin is basically what separates us from the Love of God. Repentance and confession exists in order for man to understand himself, to recognise his fall, his sinfulness. According to Metropolitan Anthony Bloom "confession is the anticipation of the terrible last judgement". Why terrible? It will be terrible because it will show us who we really are. When we confess we don't confess what we have done, but who we are. However, we currently live in a culture were we are ashamed to be ashamed. Nevertheless, confession is understood in being a "spiritual to do list". What we need to understand is that we are never saved alone; repentance has an individual but also a cooperative character.

Reverend HJM Turner spoke about "St. Symeon the New Theologian - his experience and practice of spiritual fatherhood" whereby he pointed out the fact that the spiritual father is seen and is understood as a trainer, towards the spiritual child. Canon Brian Macdonald-Milne delivered a speech concerning the "confession in the Anglican Church of Melanesia in the Western Pacific". We were all enlightened into understanding how Anglicanism and the Church in general functions in an 'alien' culture in regards to the ones we are used to. What is sin for some, might be accepted by others. This is a very interesting notion. Public confessions are still a reality in those islands, a practice long forgotten by the West.

Fr. Ephrem Lash gave a talk on "the images of ineffable glory: repentance and the image of God". He explained how God demands what we can give him. He analysed the themes of likeness and image, quoting various Church Fathers. On the other hand, Fr. Jerome Bertram spoke about "the sacrament of confession and its evolution", expressing the view that the West is very happy with development, which was also the case with the Sacrament of Confession, that has been evolving ever since its existence. According to Fr. Jerome, we need to confess not only actions but also thoughts, were we are able to open up our hearts. The ultimate objective is to confess our sinfulness and not our sin. All priests are required to see each case individually, hence books like the Penitentials (which is a list of sins and penances) is irrelevant.

Canon Peter Eton with his talk on the "sacramental confession and spiritual direction: an Anglican perspective" enlightened the Orthodox participants of the conference. He explained how the confessor must relieve us from our sins and take away the small hells that we create for ourselves. Currently the terms confessor and spiritual father are used interchangeably, however this was not the case a couple of decades ago. According to Fr. Peter, being a regular penitent is useful. The confessor is, nonetheless, required to have certain roles, which are: 
1. Judge
2. Father
3. Physician 
4. Guide.

It seems that people expect counselling and absolution, however, the first is more important for most. Focus should always be towards the person and not the sin. The goals of the confession are:
1. Hope for the future.
2. Using the Bible.
3. Make God's love real for the penitent.
Sin is understood as being a failure of love. The penitent should, nevertheless, understand that love is not put aside. Struggle of all Christians is union with the loving God. God has not made us in order to throw us away. As Nicholas Zernov believed, we are created by God with an indestructible personality.

The Conference also planned an excursion to Waltham Abbey, where by the Bishop of Barking greeted and prayed with members of the Fellowship. This was an amazing opportunity for members of different traditions within the Christian World to talk about and analyse such an important ecclesiastical and sacramental topic and theme. A big thank you must go to the speakers and of course to the Secretary of the Fellowship, Fr. Stephen Platt, for organising this conference. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Notting Hill Carnival 2012

This year's Notting Hill Carnival was held from the 27-28 August. More than one million revellers descended on the capital, taking part in Europe's biggest street festival. Dancers wearing vibrant costumes paraded along the packed three and a half mile route in west London, to the sounds of traditional steel drums. The lines of colourful floats were accompanied by more than 40 static sound systems and scores of Caribbean food stalls during the event, which is now in its 48th year. A massive security operation was also in force, with thousands of police officers being present, ensuring the  security of all the visitors. According to Scotland Yard, "a total of 5.000 officers were on duty on Sunday, followed by 7.000 officers on Monday".   

Monday, August 27, 2012

Church of St. Fanourios, Rhodes

The small church of St.Fanourios, with the fascinating history, is to be found along the quaint little Street of Aghios Fanourios, located in the Old City of Rhodes. The church was restored during the 13th century on the site where the miraculous icon of St. Fanourios was found by pagan Arabs, who pillaged the island in 64 AD.

But it’s the tale behind the discovery of the icon of St. Fanourios which is more intriguing than the old building itself. It’s a story that is as mysterious as his background, of which hardly anything is known. When the Syrians plundered the island, one of the areas they excavated in the hopes of finding treasure was the site where St. Fanourios Church is located today. Among the many things they found, were dozens of icons of varying sizes and depicting different saints. Almost all the icons were in various stages of decay, except for one – that of St. Fanourios.

Surrounding the image of a young Fanourios, on the perimeter of the icon, were 12 small scenes depicting the unfortunate man enduring the most horrendous torture known to man. This included being stripped naked and flogged until he bled; being stretched on the rack; holding hot coals; being crushed by a huge boulder and thrown to wild animals. The Greek Hierarch at the time, after scrutinising the icon with great care, realised that this was indeed a martyr, who was such a great believer that he was prepared to die for his faith. He immediately considered it of primary importance that the little chapel be restored and that it is dedicated to St. Fanourios, and he appealed to the Turkish rulers to allow him to activate the project. But the Ottomans would not hear of it, so the determined hierarch travelled to Constantinople to seek permission, which he was granted and thus the little church with the captivating history was re-established, and is now visited by thousands of pilgrims and visitors throughout the year.

But to this day, his real name is still unknown, as are the details surrounding his background. His given name, Fanourios, means to reveal in Greek, a direct reference to the fact that his icon was discovered in the ruins. He became the patron saint of retrieving lost items or people or even hidden information. This means that whoever has lost something or someone can pray to St. Fanourios for its recovery and if found, is obligated to bake a pie on his name day, on 27 August, the day his icon was found. Following a blessing by the priest, the pie is then cut and offered to pilgrims.

The Turkish invaders, however, converted the little church into a stable for their animals and later into a mosque. When the Turks were defeated and thrown out of the island by the new conquerors, the Italians, the chapel was reclaimed by the Greek Orthodox Church, and when the top layer of plaster was scraped off the walls, a stunning presentation of aged but still clearly visible frescoes was revealed.