Monday, September 30, 2013

Lambeth Palace, the Centre of the Anglican Communion

Lambeth Palace, on the south bank of the River Thames opposite Parliament (London), has been a historic London residence of Archbishops of Canterbury since the 13th century. It acts as a home for the Archbishop and his family when in London and as the central office for his national and international ministry. The south bank of the Thames was an attractive choice for the location of an Archbishop's Palace, with its proximity to Westminster and the Royal Court.
Stephen Langton is thought to have been the first Archbishop to live at Lambeth in the thirteenth century. Prior to this it was traditional for the Archbishop to live in Canterbury. Langton's Chapel, and below it the Crypt, form the oldest part of Lambeth Palace today. All of the other buildings that exist within the Palace grounds have been added, expanded and altered over the centuries to suit changes in fashion and purpose.

While the Archbishop's residence at Lambeth had a great entrance from the 1320's, the imposing gateway - Morton's Tower - that can be seen today was not built until 1490. Morton's Tower is still used as the main entrance into Lambeth Palace although this, the Guard Room, the Chapel and Crypt are the only sections of Lambeth Palace that have survived from this time.
The Great Hall at Lambeth Palace currently houses much of the Lambeth Palace Library. It has been built and re-built many times over the centuries, not least as a result of damage during the English Civil War and the London blitz.
Following the appointment of Archbishop Howley in 1828, famous architect of the day Edward Blore was invited to survey the collection of buildings that made up Lambeth Palace at that time. The effects of the Civil War and the subsequent patch-up building repairs and renovations that followed were still quite visible during the early 19th century. Blore proceeded to give a fairly devastating account of the Palace's condition. He described it as "miserably deficient as the residence of so distinguished a person as the Archbishop of Canterbury". Blore went on to build the residential wing, which was completed in 1833. This building now forms much of the Palace that functions today. 'The Blore Building', as it came to be known was built in Bath Stone to a gothic revival style. Blore also took great care to restore the Guard Room while connecting it to the rest of his building. The 14th Century roof of the Guard Room was suspended on stilts whilst Blore constructed a system for replacing and reconnecting the walls. Some of the surrounding buildings were preserved and arrangements were made for these rooms and the Great Hall to house the Palace Library.

Following the Second World War Archbishop Fisher commissioned massive restoration work on the Palace. The Chapel and Lollards Tower were gutted by the direct hit of an incendiary bomb on the 10th May 1941. As a result the roof and windows were replaced in the Chapel, whilst the ceilings in the Post Room and Lollards Tower were reinforced with brick and timber.
The new plain white ceiling of the Chapel was not re-painted until the 1980s and much of the restoration work took the remainder of the 20th century to complete. The Atrium was built in the year 2000. This glass-roofed room is the most recent addition to be made to Lambeth Palace; however its awarding winning contemporary style was specially designed to sit sympathetically within its 13th and 19th century surroundings.

Today Lambeth Palace continues to be the London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury and his family. A series of offices at the Palace form the working centre of the Archbishop's national and international ministry. The Palace Library remains a place of academic study while many of the beautiful rooms have retained their original function as spaces for hospitality. The Chapel and the Crypt Chapel are used daily for worship and prayer by the Archbishop and the Sisters at Lambeth.
The Palace serves as a venue for hospitality and events for the Church of England and in the summer its sizeable grounds play host to garden parties for organisations and charities supported by the Archbishop.  Guided tours of the Palace are frequently arranged. Within the grounds of Lambeth Palace is located the Lambeth Palace Library, with its notable store of ecclesiastical documents covering - alongside the records of the Church of England - the archive of former Archbishops of Canterbury.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

C.S. Lewis’ Favourite Pub

Walking around Oxford, one comes across the Eagle and Child Pub. Between the years 1939-1962, C.S. Lewis, his brother W.H. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and other friends met every Tuesday morning in the back room of this pub, which was their favourite pub. These men, popularly known as the ‘Inklings’, met here to drink Beer and to discuss, among other things, the books they were writing. The conversations that have taken place here have profoundly influenced the development of 20th century English literature. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Merchant Navy – Royal Mail, First Day Cover

The Royal Mail, First Day Cover, is dedicated to the Merchant Navy. The rise of Great Britain as the modern world’s first imperial superpower was contingent upon her merchant shipping. From early and uncertain beginnings in trade with continental Europe, expansion under the Tudors and early Stuart monarchs established commerce with the Mediterranean, Middle East, Russia, the Baltic, India and China. Colonial settlement in North America and later Canada also contributed to this network of trade routes, which in due course required the protection of the Royal Navy. 

By the end of the Napoleonic War in 1815, Britain possessed the largest mercantile marine in the world, and by 1914 British ships were carrying half of the world’s entire trade. The contribution of British shipping to victory in the First World War received royal approbation when King George V complimented the collective achievement of the ‘Merchant Navy’ by approving the use of this name. During the Second World War, the constant flow of supplies, raw materials and foodstuffs, together with worldwide military demands, required merchant ships to brave the threat of the U-boat and enemy aircraft, especially in the North Atlantic and the Arctic Oceans. Despite the protection of the Royal and Allied navies to ships sailing in convoy, the Merchant Navy suffered heavy losses.  Today Britain remains reliant upon merchant shipping. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Apophatic Theology according to Christos Yannaras

 “The Church uses two ways to describe the Mysteries and the Truths relating to the ontology of God, the one is the cataphatic, where it explains what, for example God is; whilst apophatic theology does not exhaust knowledge on theological topics.

The apophatic attitude leads Christian theology to use the language of poetry and images for the interpretation of dogmas much more than the language of conventional logic and schematic concepts. The conventional logic of everyday understanding can very easily give man a false sense of a sure knowledge which, being won by the intellect, is already exhausted by it, completely possessed by it. While poetry, with the symbolisms and images which it uses, always exhibits a sense from within the words and beyond the words, a concept which corresponds more to common experiences of life and less to cerebral conceptions”[1].  

[1] Yannaras, Christos, Elements of Faith – An Introduction to Orthodox Theology, (Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1991), p.17

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Children and Jesus

We read in Matthews Bible the incident where the children wished to see Jesus. The passage reads:
“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’. When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there”.

We, therefore identify that children are an important part of our faith. They should take part in the life of the Church. This also verifies the practice of the Church where babies are baptised, introducing them into the life of the Ecclesia from a young age. This cultivated their thoughts and their life into being closer to God and His Church. 

What can we do in order to preserve the faith into the lives of the children? The parents play a crucial role, in maintaining the children in the path of salvation. The role of the parent is not only maintained in the words, but also in the actions and life, in the quality of their lives, which inevitably affect the children. Faith needs to be a part of who we are, not only a thing we do once a week, i.e. go to Church for a couple of hours. Praying together is crucial. By showing the love of Christ, as Christ did in the above passage, then the children will inevitably lead a faithful life, following the path of salvation. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Byzantine Music in other languages

Many argue, especially within the Greek Orthodox world, that Byzantine music’s marriage with the ancient Greek language is inseparable, and that it does not sound nice or pleasing if it was to be put together with a future Modern Greek translation (or transliteration). However, we have only to identify if Byzantine music, i.e. the ecclesiastical music of many of the churches within Orthodoxy, works with other languages and to identify whether the spiritual and ecclesiastical attitude is kept. Here we see how well Greek and Arabic chanting blend together!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Christ the Pantocrator of Roath blessed by Archbishop Rowan Williams, Cardiff

The Church of St. Martin in Roath (an Anglican Church in the Diocese of Llandaff within the Church in Wales), Cardiff, on the 22nd of September 2013 celebrated a High Mass for the Blessing and Dedication of the new Mosaic of Christ the Pantocrator of Roath. Present were the ex-Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, Fr. Irvin Hamer (parish priest) many priests and faithful. The magnificent icon was a gift of an anonymous benefactor to the Church. The work was designed and executed by Aidan Hart.

Archbishop Rowan is undoubtedly the best hierarch within the Anglican Communion, in regards to icons, since he has written many books on icons, including ‘Ponder These Things – Praying with Icons of the Virgin’ and ‘The Dwelling of the Light – Praying with Icons of Christ’. During his sermon he explained some features of the icon of Christ, especially the three letters found in the halo (Ο ΩΝ, which in English translates He who Is). It was interesting, from an Orthodox point of view, when he was explaining the importance of icons and their significance within Christianity, a reality which prevails in the East.

Towards the end of the High Mass the Archbishop officiated at the Rite of Blessing of the Mosaic. There he said the following prayer:

Good Father
Lover of the human race, we praise you for the great love shown us
In the sending of your Word.
Born of the Blessed Virgin,
He became our Saviour, our first born brother, like us in all things but sin.

You have given us Christ as the perfect example of holiness:
We see him as a child in the manger, yet acknowledge him as God almighty.

We see his face and discern the countenance of his goodness.
We hear him speak the words of life and are filled with
Your wisdom.

We search the deepest reaches of his heart and our own hearts
Burn with that fire of the Spirit which spread in order to renew
The face of the earth.

We look on the Bridegroom of the Church, streaked in his own blood,
But we revere that blood which washes our sins away.
The Church rejoices in the glory of his resurrection and shares
in the promise it holds.

Lord, listen to our prayer.
This day we solemnly hallow and dedicate this Mosaic to the glory of your
Holy Name and name it, Christ the Pantocrator of Roath. 

May we always be of one mind and heart with Christ. May Christ be the
Way that leads us to you, the truth that shines in our hearts, the life that
Animates our actions. May Christ be a light to all who see this image in this community, may he draw all men and women to himself and be a place
Of rest on their journey.
May he be the gate that opens to all the City of Peace
For he lives their reigning with you and Holy Spirit, on God for ever and ever.

This mosaic, in the centre of Cardiff, emphasises the importance icons in the Christian World. St. Martins Church of Roath shows the unity between East and West, since the 3 icons within the Church and the mosaic, above the main entrance, follow the Byzantine iconographic tradition. Here East meets West. Additionally, Jesus Christ’s mosaic, the Christ of Pantocrator of Roath, will be a testimony of Christianity, in the Welsh Capital, where passers-by will be able to face The Truth, i.e. Jesus Christ (as expressed by Archbishop Rowan during his sermon). This reality, i.e. of the re-introduction of icons in Western Churches highlights that the tradition of icons is a reality of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, even here in Britain. The relations with the Orthodox have brought back the Anglicans to an ancient tradition, i.e. the icons, where a relationship with Jesus and the Saints is cultivated.

(Fr. Anastasios Salapatas, Archbishop Rowan Williams and Dimitris Salapatas)

(Fr. Irvin Hamer,  Aidan Hart and Fr. Anastasios Salapatas)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Nikos Salapatas scores Doxa Virona’s first goal of the season, Greece

Nikos Salapatas, my brother, has been playing football since he was in our mother’s womb. He has broken countless objects within the house, many windows; we have lost countless balls in neighbouring gardens. However, after my grandfather (also called Nikos) persuaded my parents to take him to a football team, in order for him to play…there was no stopping him.

He has had an interesting and rich career up to this point, despite him being only 23. He began playing for Headstone Manor (NW London), Wembley F.C., Chelseas Academy, Olympiakos F.C., Luton Town F.C., Wealdstone F.C., Stevenage F.C., Paniliakos F.C. and now Doksa Virona F.C. Niko has also played for the National Team of Greece U17 and U 19.

His current football side is a historic team of Athens – Doxa Virona, which was founded in 1945. This team is currently in the 5th Group in the Third Division of Greece, also known as Football League 2. In the first game of the season, again Kisamikos in Crete, the two teams drew 1-1. Nikos Salapatas scored first. On twitter, he later claimed “Happy to have helped my team with my goal”. We wish him and his team to reach their objectives and have a successful season.!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

St. Apostles Church, Ancient Agora – Athens

The Church of St. Apostles is located within the ancient agora of the Greek capital. Its unique feature is that it is the only medieval monument that still exists within the Agora. However, it was renovated between 1954 – 1957. The icons on the wall are from the 17th century. On a number of walls we find today some icons from different churches from around the area of central Athens. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The S.O.E. Statue

Outside Lambeth Palace, the centre of the Anglican Communion, one can find a statue of a woman, entitled S.O.E. The woman is Violette Szabo (1921-1945), who was posthumously awarded the Geaorge Cross and the Croix De Guerre, who was among the 117 S.O.E. agents who did not survive their missions to France (see b., below).  The Special Operations Executive was secretly formed for the purpose of recruiting agents, men and women of many nationalities who would volunteer to continue the fight for freedom, by performing acts of sabotage in countries occupied by the enemy during the Second World War. This monument is in honour of all the courageous S.O.E. agents: those who did survive and those who did not survive their perilous missions. Their services were beyond the call of duty. In the pages of History, their names are carved with pride.

Some examples of their significant work are the following. a) The Heroes of Telemark:  In 1943 Norwegian resistance commandos sponsored by the S.O.E. raided the enemy occupied Norsk Hydro plant in the Telemark Region of Norway. This successful raid sabotaged the machinery that was producing heavy water, which is used in the manufacture of the atomic bomb. Thanks to those heroic Norwegian commandos, the enemy’s attempt to develop the atomic bomb was thwarted. b) The Maquis French Resistance Fighters. 470 S.O.E. agents were sent on sabotage missions to occupied France where they fought with networks of French resistance fighters who played an important part in the liberation of France in 1944.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Neglecting theology in our modern world

“Neglect of theology in the instruction given to laity in modern times is responsible both for the decay of personal religion and for that sense of frustration which dominates the modern mood. What we need in Christendom “in a time such as this” is precisely a sound and existential theology. In fact, both clergy and the laity are hungry for theology. And because no theology is usually preached, they adopt some “strange ideologies” and combine them with the fragments of traditional beliefs.

 The whole appeal of the “rival gospels” in our days is that they offer some sort of pseudo theology, a system of pseudo dogmas. They are gladly accepted by those who cannot find any theology in the reduced Christianity of “modern” style. That existential alternative which many face in our days has been aptly formulated by an English theologian “Dogma or…death.” The age of a-dogmatism and pragmatism has closed. And therefore the ministers of the church have to preach again doctrines and dogmas – the Word of God”[1]

[1] Florovsky, George, Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View, (Belmont, Nordland Publishing Company, 1972), p. 15

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Annual Constantinople Lecture 2013

The Anglican and Eastern Churches Association (AECA) is organising its annual Constantinople Lecture on Thursday 21st November 2013. The Lecture will be given by The Rt Revd Andrew Proud (Bishop of Reading). The title of the talk is “Man fully alive: discovering good news for our time among the treasurers of Orthodoxy and the west”.

This event will take place at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Divine Wisdom, Moscow Road, London, W2 4LQ. The evening will start with Vespers at 5.30 pm, Lecture at 6.00 pm and Reception at 7.15 until 8.45 pm. The tickets for the reception are £15 per person. For booking information please contact the Secretary of the AECA, Janet Laws.

Telephone (office number): 020 7248 6233.