CHRISTMINSTER
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR)
1910 Falls Street, Niagara Falls, New York 14303 USA
2013

On Tragic Events in Boston - - (4/22/13)

The recent tragic events in Boston are a call to prayer and repentance. Most Christians would be ready to pray for the victims and their families. Perhaps not so many would be prepared to pray for the perpetrators of this crime. And yet, as Christians we have the clear word of Christ Himself that we must pray for our enemies. We must – and do – pray for all involved in this horrendous act.

Less clear is how this act calls us all to repentance. “I am not responsible” we say. “I did not make this happen.” But we are responsible – we did make this happen. We forget that we are not merely individuals but members of the corporate body of humankind. As a cell in this vast human organism – to which our Saviour Himself belongs – every sin and action of mine, however private and secret, affects the whole body. Whether I see it or not, whether I believe it or not, that sin of uncharitableness I committed yesterday toward my brother affects us all of us and is, ways not visible to us among the real causes of the real tragedy in Boston. Even as the evil acts of the bombers diminish and demean the whole body of mankind so also do my personal sins. The poet John Donne spoke of this hundreds of years ago when he said in a sermon not to inquire for whom the funeral bell tolls – “it tolls for thee.”

May the grace of God bring peace and healing to the troubled city of Boston and to the troubled hearts of all of us who suffer in this tragedy.

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On Learning to Use the Monastic Diurnal - - (4/22/13)

We frequently receive requests for help to pray the monastic hours and navigate the Monastic Diurnal. This can be a difficult book to master, but a slow and gradual approach will eventually lead to success. We generally recommend the following:

  • Do NOT read the introduction or opening rubrics. These will only confuse and discourage you, and are not necessary for private recitation.
  • Begin with the hours of Prime in the morning and Compline at night. Compline remains the same everyday. Limiting your self to these two hours, especially Prime, will help you become familiar with the layout of the book while providing a solid grounding for morning and evening prayer.
  • After a month or so, add to Prime and Compline, any one of the little hours, Terce, Sext, None, using this as a midday prayer.
  • When you have become comfortable with Prime, Compline and the little hours, add Vespers as your evening prayer, and make Compline your bedtime prayer.
  • Once you have become familiar with all the previously mentioned hours you can turn to mastering Lauds which is the most complicated hour except for Matins.

Be sure to give enough time (perhaps several weeks) to each of the previous steps and you will find yourself more and more at home with the monastic office and pray it with attention and devotion. Specific questions can be addressed to the Monastery.

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New Doors for Christminster - - (4/24/13)

There is an old saying that when God closes one door, he always opens another. As the door closes on our 5 – year history and stay in Hamilton, Ontario, we are happy to find new doors opening up to us. Friends of the monastery here and abroad have offered us several options for new locations. Among these is the offer from our good friend, Anglican Archbishop Peter Goodrich to move into the parsonage of his pro-cathedral in Niagara Falls, New York. Another offer, which for the time being must remain confidential, is for a church and living quarters in a large mid western city. A third option is the offer of a church and abandoned monastery with cemetery also in Niagara Falls, New York. We have also had an invitation from a monastic aspirant to explore the possibly of moving to Newfoundland. We ask your continued prayers for the wisdom to know which of these doors God wishes us to walk through. One earthly goal of the Benedictine life is peace, and it is in God’s will and not ours that true peace may be found.

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Holy Week Services 2013 - - (4/27/13)
Our Lady of Glastonbury Orthodox Church / Christminster
(Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia)
390 Cannon Street East
Hamilton Ontario, Canada
(905-522-3400)

Palm Sunday - - (28 April) - - 10:00am
  • Blessing of Palms & Procession
  • Mass with the Passion of St. Matthew
  • Wednesday - - (1 May) - - 6:30pm
  • Vespers and Anointing Service
  • Maundy Thursday - - (2 May)
  • 800am - - Tenebrae (Matins and Lauds)
  • 600pm - - Mass & Stripping of the altar
    • (Great Silence begins and extends until after Tenebrae on Saturday morning)
    Good Friday - - (3 May)
  • 8:00am - - Tenebrae
  • 12 noon - - Stations of the Cross
  • 6:00pm - - Solemn Liturgy of the Presanctified
  • Holy Saturday - - (4 May)
  • 8:00am - - Tenebrae
  • 7:30pm - - Great Vigil & First Mass of Easter
  • Easter Sunday - - (5 May)
  • 10:00am - - Morrow Mass of Easter
  • 6:30pm - - Vespers
  • Services at Christminster are celebrated in English, with occasional Latin, according to the traditional Western Rite as approved by the Russian Orthodox Church.
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    CHRISTMINSTER: A NEW CHAPTER - - (6/10/13)

    By the grace of God, and with the help of many dear friends, the monks of Christminster moved out of their old premises over a two day period of 30/31 May, having been told they must leave the premises by the first of June. The move happened to coincide with an early tropical heat wave and torrential rains which added considerably to an already stressful situation. By the promised prayers of many well-wishers we survived the ordeal and are now located in St George’s rectory in Niagara Falls, New York. We owe this new monastic home to the kindness and good will of our dear friend and benefactor Archbishop Peter Goodrich of the Independent Anglican Church of Canada. He has also made available to us for our liturgical services the use of his cathedral next to the rectory. He and his clergy and staff have been most gracious and welcoming to us.

    In addition to the many who have supported us with their prayers we wish to thank heartily those who helped us with the actual move: Pavlos Pavlakis, Joanna Thomson, the twins, Greg Wiebe, Edward Akiwumi and Steve Camp (“the boys from Buffalo”) and anonymous helpers at the church.

    While we are moved in, we are by no means settled in as there is still much unpacking to do. Fortunately we can unpack at our own pace, without a deadline hanging over us as it had been in Canada. Our stay here in New York is not likely to be a permanent one, but we have been assured by Archbishop Peter that we can stay here as long as we need. We do hope to return one day to Canada if we can find a suitable monastic site. In the mean time we are assured of a reasonable measure of peace, stability and quiet for the living out of our monastic life.

    For the time being our Sunday Mass will be in the Cathedral at 8 o’clock AM. (The Anglican service on Sunday in the Cathedral, usually celebrated by the Archdeacon William Stott is at 9:30 AM).

    Our mailing address is: Christminster, 1910 Falls Street, Niagara Falls, NY 14303.

    Our telephone numbers:
    Abbot James M Deschene: 716 545 5127
    Fr. Joseph Delgiorno: 716 545 1974
    Fr. Daniel Ritty: 419 565 0416

    With profound gratitude to Almighty God and to friends and benefactors, we ask for your continued prayerful support in the years ahead.

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    Monk to be ordained - - (6/24/13)

    Abbot James is pleased to announce the forthcoming ordination of Dom Joseph Del Giorno to the holy priesthood. To accommodate Bishop Jerome’s schedule, Fr. Joseph will be traveling on Wednesday 26 June to Beacon, New York. He will be returning for the weekend of Trinity Sunday, and will celebrate his first Mass in the cathedral on that feast at 8 AM. We ask your prayers for him for a safe journey and God’s blessing on his priestly life.

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    Christminster Gospel - - (9/7/13)

    These are photos of the Gospel book recently completed by Fr. David and Matushka Patricia Kinghorn. The project began, over a decade ago, with Fr. David creating a gold-tooled blue leather binding for an over-sized Gospel book. This design provided for needlework insets on the front and rear covers. The first of these was completed some years ago when we were still in Rhode Island. The rear cover was completed this summer. The designs are based on the illuminated manuscripts in the style of the Lindisfarne Gospel. Fr. David also designed a sturdy and handsome slipcase to protect the book when not in use. The Kinghorns have christened this new book the Christminster Gospel. The book is a labor of love and will be one of our monastery's greatest treasures. We thank Fr. David and Matushka Patricia Kinghorn for God-given talents and for this gift of love - a fitting tribute to the living Word of God.

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    Nominalism, Obedience, and Sacred Music - - (9/10/13)

    The following article on western liturgical music, apart from its interest to Western-Rite Orthodox is also an incisive summary of the modern worldview that afflicts all Christian churches. The article is taken from the web site THE CHANT CAFÉ.

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    Nominalism, Obedience, and Sacred Music
    Posted by Kathleen Pluth

    One of the philosophical undergirdings of the Protestant Reformation was a theory called nominalism. According to nominalism, things do not belong to kinds of things. Each individual instance is its own selfstanding kind of being. No generalizations are truly valid.

    If there are no generalizations, there are no general laws.

    Religious obedience, under such a schema, would be somewhat whimsical. There are no real repercussions, and no real laws. Any monarchical superior is free to impose rules, not according to natural or divine or canon law, but according to himself and his own thoughts.

    Under such a schema of obedience, real or assumed, a religious subject would probably feel free to ignore the superior.

    It seems to me that nominalism is a current meta-conception in Western society, and that it affects liturgical music in two ways.

    First, the experience of attending Mass can be whiplashingly random. In my immediate area, even after omitting those Sunday Masses planned for special groups of Catholics--children's Masses, youth Masses, Gospel Masses, and Spanish Masses--the difference in musical styles is all over the map. Going from Mass to Mass on a Sunday is as random as opening the various doors of the theaters of a multiplex. The rules and guidelines for liturgical music over the centuries are among the most widely ignored rules in history, at last count exceeding even the blatantly disregarded laws against the rolling stop at a stop sign in Southern California.

    Secondly, the vacuum formed by antinomianism--lawlessness--will not remain a vacuum. Laws will happen. Whether or not people profess nominalism, or its liturgical cousin, congregationalism, no one really, existentially, believes it. We all know we're all alike. So a "new normal" will be promoted in place of the agreed upon, long-standing norms. This "new normal" goes far beyond the sort of lazy compromises that develop inevitably over time. It's an imposed normal, a theoretically expressed normal--but one without a strong theoretical basis. It's turtles all the way down, but it is incredibly dogmatic. We all know the rules. No Latin. No Gregorian chant. No propers. No polyphony. No ad orientem posture. No solemnity in processions. No altar rails. And definitely no kneeling for Communion. Not to mention the more ephemeral, politically-generated rules. We've seen wave after wave of these temporary "new normals," usually found in the Social Concerns section of your favorite hymnal.

    I think that since we're going to have rules--liturgists are involved in a public work, after all, not just deciding for themselves whether or not to personally eat gluten-free--we should dig down past the turtles and make sure we're on solid ground here. It takes no knowledge at all to simply wake up one morning, eat a good breakfast, and proclaim a new liturgical 10 commandments: Thou shalt build ugly churches, for example, or Thou shalt ignore 2 millennia of Catholic musical heritage and replace sacred music with inauthentic bluegrass. It takes a lot more study--and a lot more deep courage--for musicians, bishops, and publishers to cooperate on the all-important project of sacred music, the greatest of all the liturgical arts, and one of the vital structures of the New Evangelization.

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    Repose of Archdeacon Fr. William Stott - - (10/8/13)

    We ask your prayers for the repose of the Very Reverend William (Fr. Bill) Stott, Archdeacon of St. George's Pro-Cathedral, and a gentle and generous friend to Christminster.

    One thing have I desired of the Lord, which I will require; * even that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the fair beauty of the Lord, and to visit his temple.

    Rest eternal grant unto him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him.

    Requiescat in pace.

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    Message from Abbot James - - (10/29/13)

    This morning I returned from visiting the eye surgeon and am happy to announce that she pronounced the results of my surgery as "awesome." I want to thank all those many people who prayed for the success of this operation. May God continue to bless me with good vision and to bless all of you for your help and support.

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    FROM THE ABBOT'S DESK - - (11/4/13)

    I do not keep up with internet blogs, but occasionally items are brought to my attention. I was recently told of an Orthodox Monk who criticized western-rite Orthodoxy on the grounds that he saw no great need for it. The vanity of his criticism was brought home to me as I listened this morning to the reading from the holy rule of St. Benedict:

    For the Abbot must have the utmost solicitude and exercise all prudence and diligence lest he lose any of the sheep entrusted to him ... Let him rather imitate the loving example of the Good Shepherd who left the ninety-nine sheep in the mountains and went to look for the one sheep that had gone astray, on whose weakness He had such compassion that He deigned to place it on His own sacred shoulders and thus carry it back to the flock (Luke 15:4-5). [Chapter 27]

    The fore-mentioned critic would no doubt see no great need to go after one lost sheep. In that, he departs from the opinion of our good Shepherd Christ, and indeed of our good shepherds Metropolitan Hilarion and Bishop Jerome who have shown by word and example their belief that if only one soul is saved through western-rite Orthodoxy their mission will have been worthwhile. May God bless and increase such good shepherds in the church.

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    From the Abbot's desk.... - - (11/14/13)

    It has come to my attention, though inquiries and comments, that many people are quite mistaken in their assumption that the events to the past summer within ROCOR's western-rite vicariate have somehow annulled or altered the status of Christminster within ROCOR. Regrettably rumor and speculation, always rife within Orthodox circles, created various dire scenarios, all of them unfounded. Metropolitan Hilarion has several times affirmed his continued support and stavropegial authority over us and the other western-rite monasteries, parishes and missions. Apart from the absence of Bishop Jerome and Father Anthony -- both of whom are sorely missed -- nothing has changed in our services, calendar, customs, and the like. The western rite remains as it has been since its coming under the metropolitan's authority and remains a faithful witness within the Church.

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    Schola of the Gregorian Institute of Canada Concert - - (11/15/13)

    One of the highlights of our week when we were in Hamilton was the Tuesday night rehearsals of the Schola of the Gregorian Institute of Canada. This group of dedicated singers and lovers of chant became good friends of the monastery. In our exile to Niagara Falls, NY we remember them fondly and miss them dearly. They recently gave a concert at McMaster University. This concert was recorded and we invite you to listen to this concert.

    Link here.

    The Schola is planning to sing at our Christmas Eve Mass at the Cathedral here in Niagara Falls,. NY. Watch for further information.

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    To all the friends of Christminster - - (12/13/13)

    You are invited to join us on Christmas Eve, on 6 January 2014, at 7pm, for our First Mass of Christmas. We will be blessed to have with us the Chant Schola of the Gregorian Institute of Canada, under the direction of Doctor William Renwick. This is the group that was so much a part of our monastery in Hamilton and who have sung with us at Christmas for the past five years. It is a special gift and joy to have them with us on our first Christmas here in New York. The Liturgy will be in

    Saint George's Procathedral
    1910 Falls Street
    Niagara Falls, NY 14303

    We hope you can join us for this happy celebration.

    Dom James M. Deschene Abbot of Christminster
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    Calendar for the remainder of 2013 - - (12/14/13)

    DAYNCOCF/AOBSERVANCE
    SUN152ADVENT I; St. Peter Chrysologus IV
    MON163F/AFeria
    TUE174FSt. Clement of Alexandria, BCD III; St. Barbara, VM, IV
    WED185F/AFeria; St. Sava, AB, IV
    THU196FSt. Nicholas, BC, III
    FRI207F/AVigil; St. Ambrose, BCD, III
    SAT218Conception of the Mother of God, I
    SUN229ADVENT II
    MON2310F/AFeria
    TUE2411FFeria; St. Damasus, BC IV
    WED2512FSt Herman of Alaska, MK III: St Peter the Aleut, M IV [Western Christmas]
    THU2613FSt. Lucy, VM III
    FRI2714F/AFeria
    SAT2815A*St. Nina, III
    SUN2916ADVENT III (THE GREAT “O” ANTIPHONS BEGIN) “O Wisdom”
    MON3017F/AFeria, (O Adonai)
    TUE3118F/AFeria; St. Lazarus, BC IV (O Root of Jesse)