Showing posts with label rare words. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rare words. Show all posts

Monday, December 16, 2013

Rare word #15: paramoni

This description from the blog Salvation's Beginning:

Paramoni – a noun which means steadfastness and endurance. In the Law Code of Justinian a derived noun, paramonarios, means a watchman. These nouns come from the verb parameno, which means to stand fast, to remain.

The word paramoni is not on the tip of the tongue of every Orthodox. If someone hears the word, he or she certainly files it away under “liturgical trivia”. Paramoni designates the day of preparation before a big feast; usually it is translated by the equally obscure forefeast.

And yet, in this simple word, we see the entire theology of our Feasts! The image (similar to the Latin equivalent vigil) is one of watching and waiting. We are on guard throughout the day, staying steadfast, watching out for the intrusion of the enemy. For the great Feasts of Pascha, Christmas and Theophany the Paramoni is a day of strict fast. In the early Church(where fasting was taken much more seriously than in our day because they understood the larger meaning) a day of strict fast meant not eating anything at all. A watchman is too busy guarding the city to eat! And then, the fast was broken in the evening by the celebration of the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil and receiving HolyCommunion, the food of the Kingdom.

The Paramoni reminds us that we are not constantly celebrating, like the world begins celebrating Christmas the day after Hallowe’en. Our celebrations have a heavenly rhythm, anticipation and fulfillment. We are enticed by glimpses of the celebration; some weeks before we begin hearing the special hymn called the kontakion during the Small Entrance. If you attend Orthros, you may hear special hymns called Katavasiai some weeks before as well. As we get closer to the feast, the hymns become more insistent. On the day of the Paramoni we are almost celebrating. But there is still the sense of not yet. Not until the beautiful hymns of the Vespers of the Feast is our watching and endurance and labor rewarded with the fulfilment, with the celebration.

This rhythm of anticipation and fulfilment which we experience in the celebration of our feasts is a mirror of our present life. In the mystery of the Church we experience a foretaste of the Kingdom. In the Divine Liturgy we join in an icon of the heavenly Liturgy. In Holy Communion we have an anticipation of the eternal Banquet. We live a life of anticipation, and therefore a life of watching, of enduring, of keeping an eye on the walls of our lives so that the enemy cannot make an incursion and destroy our city before it reaches its final fulfilment. Our lives are a constant paramoni in preparation for that final and eternal celebration of the Kingdom of God.

St. Peter reminds us of the importance of the paramoni of our lives (1 Peter 5:8-9):
Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resis him, steadfast in your faith…
As we celebrate the Paramoni of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple today, let us keep a faithful watch in prayer and spiritual discipline. When all anticipation is disolved into fulfilment with the beginning of our celebration this evening at Vespers, we will experience a small part of our Lord’s promise that our joy will be filled.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rare word #14: murlimews

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rare word #13: apolytikion

This description from the OMHKSEA:

The principal troparion (hymn) of the day, chanted at the end of Vespers (hence its name, which means “dismissal hymn”), and celebrating the particular feast or saint being commemorated. It is also known as the “troparion of the feast” or the “troparion of the day”. On Great Feasts it is sung three times at the end of Vespers, four times at Matins: three times after “The Lord is God”, and once at the end of Matins, immediately after the Great Doxology; once at the Liturgy, after the Little Entrance and the Introit; at Great Compline and at all the Hours.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rare word #12: heortology

I'm bringing back the occasional posting of rare or interesting words. I've also decided to start labeling some topics for easier browsing (e.g. interviews, rare words, books). You can imagine how difficult it will be to categorize posts after the fact, so please bear with me as slowly comb through posts.

heortology: (noun) [From the Greek ἑορτή "festival" and λόγος "knowledge, discourse"] Etymologically implies a relation to feasts or festivals in general, an exposition of their meaning.

The word, however, is used to denote specifically the science of sacred festivals, embracing the principles of their origin, significance, and historical development, with reference to epochs or incidents in the Christian year.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rare word #11: podvig

podvig: an ascetic feat, spiritual labor or simply, Christian struggle.

This description from the Orthodox Christian Information Center:

Any Orthodox Christian who does even the least bit of spiritual reading will come across the word podvig. While this word can be described, it cannot be translated into one single English word — which is why we continue to use, and must therefore learn to understand, this Russian term.

The word itself has been defined as spiritual struggle. Like so many things in Orthodoxy, in doing it, we understand it within our souls even if we cannot explain it. In performing a podvig, we find it as a means of drawing nearer to Christ as we travel along the path of salvation.

We bear the scars of sin in our bodies which drags us down to the earth like a magnet, yet our soul longs to ascend to the heights. As man, composed of body and soul, we find the two opposing each other. Even St. Paul says I cannot understand my own behavior. I fail to carry out the things I want to do, and I find myself doing the very things I hate.... for though the will to do what is good is in me, the performance is not, with the result that instead of doing the good things I want to do, I carry out the sinful things I do not want.

As Orthodox Christians, we know that we must labor toward purification, illumination, theosis (deification). The first step of purifying ourselves from the passions, from all which draws us away from God and shackles us from ascending to the heights, employs the use of podvig.

St. Theophan the Recluse defines our entire Christian life as podvig. He explains that the spirit hates sin, while the flesh dwells in it. How is this battle within ourselves to be resolved? Through podvig, that spiritual struggle of bringing the soul into mastery over the body.

The Church gives us the directions for doing this through fasting, prostrations, standing in prayer, etc. All of these things oppose the body, and as we fulfill these ascetical practices, we do indeed find that they help us draw nearer to our Creator and Savior. As we aspire to deepen our souls in Christ we find that we want to do more, to go beyond what the Church has already told us are the necessary first steps.

Podvig is precisely that doing more.

According to St Theophan all the saints accept the only true path to virtue to be pain and hard work... lightness and ease are a sign of a false path. Anyone who is not struggling, not in podvig, is in prelest (spiritual delusion) (The Path to Salvation, pg 209).

Our Lord said, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me (Matt. 16:24). St Innocent, in his book, Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven, writes clearly that the way which leads to the kingdom of Heaven is precisely to deny oneself, take up the cross, and follow Christ. Our beloved American saint goes on to explain that to deny oneself means to give up ones bad habits, to root out of the heart all that ties us to the world...there are external and internal crosses. To take up ones cross means not only to bear crosses laid on us by others or sent by Providence, but ...even to lay crosses upon oneself and bear them.

This is a clear direction to podvig.

When we take up an additional cross, a podvig, with the blessing of our spiritual father, we find that the Lord Himself comes and helps us to carry that cross, walking side by side with us. Isnt this what we long for? To have the Lord near, to be close to Him?

All of podvig is a form of repentance, of turning around and getting back unto the correct path. Because it is so intricately linked to repentance, no one should ever undertake a specific podvig without the approval of his father confessor/spiritual father. The evil one is very crafty and he wants nothing more than to drag us into the same pride through which he fell. He will try to use the very means with which we are trying to overcome our sins to lead us into the sin of pride. Yes, we can become prideful and vain glorious over our own podvig! In fact, it frequently happens that an astute spiritual guide will tell his spiritual child to abandon his podvig.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rare word #10: megalynarion

Megalynarion: The term megalynarion (pl. megalynaria) is used in English to refer to three types of hymnography that have no relationship to one another.

  • In Byzantine practice, a megalynarion is a short hymn for the saint of the day or the feast that is sung after "Among the first...". This type of megalynarion is also used during other services, such as a Paraklesis.
  • In Slavic practice, a megalynarion is a hymn, sung at the end of the polyeleos, which usually begins with "We magnify..." In Slavonic, this type of hymn is called a velichaniye. Another common term in English used for this type of hymn is magnification.
  • In both Byzantine and Slavic practice, the term megalynarion is also used to refer to the hymn that is sung at the Divine Liturgy just after the consecration of the Holy Gifts.
The most common megalynarion is the one used at the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom when it is not a feast of the Lord or of the Theotokos:

It is truly meet to bless thee, O Theotokos,
ever blessed and most blameless and the Mother of our God:
More honourable than the Cherubim,
and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim,
who without corruption gave birth to God the Word,
true Theotokos, we magnify thee.

The hymns that replace "It is truly meet..." in the Divine Liturgy are called in Slavonic the "Zadostoinik," or in Greek the "anti tou Axion Estin", both which mean "Instead of 'It is truly meet.'" These hymns come from the refrain and irmos of the ninth ode of the Canon of the Feast, which is sung at Orthros. Some English-speaking Orthodox prefer to use the Slavonic term to distinguish it from the other types of hymns that are also referred to as a megalynarion.

I went to the local Greek church to a Paraklesis service last night and was taken with the below megalynarion both for its beauty and its timeliness as the EU struggles with its Christian patrimony (see below for a recent summary of the crucifix ban). As I posted on a few months back, Greece saw the attack on the crucifix as a short step away from banning icons of the Theotokos found ubiquitously in the classrooms and courtrooms of the country. With that in mind, this is the megalynarion that brought their struggle to mind:

Speechless be the lips of impious ones,
Those who do not reverence
Your great icon, the sacred one
Which is called Directress,
And was depicted for us
By one of the apostles,
Luke the Evangelist.

ROME (AP) — An emotional debate over crucifixes in classrooms is opening a new crack in European unity.

It all started in a small town in northern Italy, where Finnish-born Soile Lautsi was so shocked by the sight of crosses above the blackboard in her children's public school classroom that she called a lawyer to see if she could get them removed.

Her case went all the way to Europe's highest court — and her victory has set up a major confrontation between traditional Catholic and Orthodox countries and nations in the north that observe a strict separation between church and state. Italy and more than a dozen other countries are fighting the European Court of Human Rights ruling, contending the crucifix is a symbol of the continent's historic and cultural roots.

"This is a great battle for the freedom and identity of our Christian values," said Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

The court case underlines how religious symbols are becoming a contentious issue in an increasingly multiethnic Europe.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rare word #9: sempiternal

sempiternal: (adj) dateless, endless, sempiternal (having no known beginning and presumably no end) "the dateless rise and fall of the tides"; "time is endless"; "sempiternal truth"

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rare Word #8: idiorrythmic

idiorrythmic: A term applied to certain monasteries on Mount Athos which, in contradistinction to the coenobitic houses, used to allow considerable freedom to their monks, including the right to possess personal property. Also... Having its own rhythm or style. Used, especially in the Eastern Christian churches, of monks or hermits who live by themselves instead of in a monastery or community. St. Stergos was an idiorrhythmic monk.

This word came up from the below talk on monasticism in the Russian Church from the 19th century forward.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Garrison Keillor and the liturgy

When I was young my mother would drive us to our grandparents' after church for a Sunday meal. On the way A Prairie Home Companion would be on the local NPR station. While not a huge fan of the program, it's indelibly marked into my brain as a piece of my childhood. If you have ever listened to the show then you know the host, Garrison Keillor, often has a musical guest of the bluegrass/folk persuasion and just as often joins in on the song - ruining it entirely with his off-key harmonizing.

To wit, I have coined the term in our family:

keillor - verb.

(often keilloring) to ruin an otherwise enjoyable song by singing in attempted harmony or to the exclusion of the principal singer or singers. Often done loudly, with an imperfect recall of lyrics, and in the company of innocent bystanders.

During the liturgy I am at times in reception of a keilloring parishioner who doesn't take a new liturgy book, but continues to sing loudly using the wrong words and to his own tune. I look at my wife and she knows... we've been keillored again.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Heresy of the week

In light of the holiday season (holiday = holy day so please no barbed comments) I gave the heresies a break. Reinvigorated by Christmas-themed tea and treats, I return to the task.


The Greek name (ἀποκαταστασις) for the doctrine that ultimately all free mortal creatures - angels, men, and devils - will share in the grace of salvation. It is to be found in Clement of Alexandria, in Origen and St. Gregory of Nyssa. It was strongly attacked by St. Augustine of Hippo and formally condemned in the first anathema against Origenism, probably put out by the Council of Constantinople in AD 543.

- The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church pg. 83

The basic idea is that hell is purgative - that hell is a celestial timeout corner from which the head-strong Kindergartner, given sufficient time, will emerge and be able to rejoin the class. Clement of Alexandria called it a "wise fire" from which sinners are purified.

On Origen, I quote from Eschatology and final restoration (apokatastasis) in Origen, Gregory of Nyssa and Maximos the Confessor by Andreas Andreopoulos:

Origen's position follows naturally after two assumptions: that the power of free will remains to the soul after death, and that God has not created an eternal place of damnation. Augustine, on the other hand, believed hell to be eternal and also created specifically for the punishment of the sinful, and influenced, probably unfortunately, the entire Western Christian tradition. Origen saw the entrapment of the logikoi (rational intellects) in matter, as well as the flames of hell, both as a punishment and as a means of rehabilitation, so that they can be "encouraged" to return to God. Furthermore, he writes elsewhere (De Principiis 2 X 8) that hell is not eternal. "There is resurrection of the dead, and there is punishment, but not everlasting. For when the body is punished the soul is gradually purified, and so restored to its ancient rank. For all wicked men, and for demons, too, punishment has an end, and both wicked men and demons shall be restored to their former rank."

His beliefs were anathematized in the 10 anathemas against Origen. Here are the two cited against his universalist beliefs:

  • 7. Whoever maintains that the Lord Christ, as [he was] for human beings, will in the world to come also be crucified for the demons - let him be anathema.
  • 9. Whoever maintains that the punishment of the demons and godless human beings are temporal[ly limited], and that after a specified time they will have an end, that is to say there will be a restoration [apokatastasis] of demons or godless human beings - let him be anathema

Also from the Andreopoulos paper, Gregory of Nyssa:

Gregory of Nyssa in On the Soul and the Resurrection 7 and in the Catechetical Oration 26 followed Origen in that the fire of hell has a purifying role and is, therefore, not eternal. He goes even further in his argument however, positing that since evil has no real existence, its "relative" existence will be completely annihilated at the end of time. According to how much the souls are attached to the material condition, purification may be instant or long and painful. Gregory compared purification by the fire of hell to the chemical purification of gold by fire, and to a muddy rope that is cleaned when passed through a small hole. Although his images seem dangerously dualist, we should not forget that evil for Gregory has no real existence, and therefore what he presents is no more than the destruction of everything that was not created by God in the first place. In both writings mentioned above, he stated his belief in the final restoration of all: "When, over long periods of time, evil has been removed and those now lying in sin have been restored to their original state, all creation will join in united thanksgiving, both those whose purification has involved punishment and those who never needed purification at all" (Catechetical Oration 26).

Met. Kallistos (Ware) has a fine statement on the matter that will close out this topic:

"Hell exists as a final possibility, but several of the Fathers have none the less believed that in the end all will be reconciled to God. It is heretical to say that all must be saved, for this is to deny free will; but it is legitimate to hope that all may be saved. Until the Last Day comes, we must not despair of anyone’s salvation, but must long and pray for the reconciliation of all without exception. No one must be excluded from our loving intercession. ‘What is a merciful heart?’ asked Isaac the Syrian. ‘It is a heart that burns with love for the whole of creation, for men, for the birds, for the beasts, for the demons, for all creatures.’Gregory of Nyssa said that Christians may legitimately hope even for the redemption of the Devil."

- The Orthodox Church

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rare word #7: Targum

Targum (from Chaldee/Aramaic meaning 'interpretation'): an Aramaic translation, interpretation, or paraphrase of the Old Testament, made after the Babylonian captivity, at first preserved by oral transmission, and committed to writing from about 100 A.D. onwards when Hebrew was declining as a spoken language.

After the return from exile Aramaic gradually won the ascendancy as the colloquial language over the slowly decaying Hebrew until, from probably the last century before the Christian era, Hebrew was hardly more than the language of the schools and of worship. As the majority of the population ceased to be conversant with the sacred language it became necessary to provide translations for the better understanding of the passages of the Bible read in Hebrew at the liturgical services. Thus to meet this need it became customary to add to the portions of the Scriptures read on the Sabbath an explanatory oral translation — a Targum.

At first this was probably done only for the more difficult passages, but as time went on, for the entire text. The directions also state which portions are to be read aloud but not translated, and a warning is given against translations that are either to free, palliative, allegorical, etc. Another regulation was that the Targum was not to be written down. This prohibition, however, probably referred only to the interpretation given in the synagogue and did not apply to private use or to its employment in study.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Rare word #6: theanthropic

Theanthropic (from θεάνθρωπος "god-man"): Both divine and human in nature or quality.

Not up there with my earlier rare words, but interesting enough to post on. I was reading a few article about the theanthropic nature of the Church and they all referenced its indivisible nature (just as Christ is singular and unique). They then went directly into a list of those ecclesial bodies that "fell away." That strain of thought invariably feeds into how churches outside the authors' membership (whether they be Orthodox or Catholic) are outside His Church. Some then contend that these bodies are defective, without grace, or (the more kindly) that we can know little of their state as they are outside communion. How lamentable that the same word to describe our Savior is also used by some as a blunt instrument in posturing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Rare word #5: Stauropegic

Stauropegic from Greek: stauros "cross", and pegio "to affirm") is a title or description applied to Eastern Christian monasteries subordinated directly to a Patriarch or Synod, rather than to their local Bishop. It derives from the Byzantine tradition of summoning the Patriarch to place a cross at the foundation of such monasteries.

Canon 434

A monastery is of pontifical right if it was erected by the Apostolic See or recognized as such by its decree; of patriarchal right if it is a stauropegial one; of eparchial right if it was erected by the bishop but has not obtained a decree of recognition from the Apostolic See.

Canon 486
  1. The patriarch can for a grave reason, having consulted the eparchial bishop and with the consent of the permanent synod, concede the status of a stauropegial monastery in the very act of foundation of a monastery sui iuris.
  2. The stauropegial monastery is directly subject to the patriarch in such a way that only he himself enjoys the rights and obligations of an eparchial bishop toward the monastery, the members assigned to it, as well as the persons who day and night dwell in the monastery. Other persons, however, connected with the monastery are subject directly and exclusively to the patriarch only in those aspects which concern their duties and offices.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Rare word #4: anaskopisis

The strict Greek, after consulting my hefty tomes translates the word to mean "look at narrowly, examine well" or "look back at, reckon up," but in the Patristic sense it has been defined "in the Fatherly sense of examination, of checking up on ourselves, in order to feel remorse for our sins and become better but also recognize the beneficence of God."

I quite like this word as it fits in well with "conversion" and "repentance" as expressed by St. John Climacus (Latin transliteration of "Klimakos" or "of the ladder"):

... repentance is the turning from that which is not our nature, to that which is our nature, and a turning from the devil to God through spiritual struggle and pain.

So conversion is our initial turning towards God, repentance is the constant righting of our course, and anaskopisis is a tool to be used in that effort.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rare word #3: Aphthartodocetism

A disease? A philosophy? Close... a heresy.

Aphthartodocetism sometimes shortened to "aphthartist" when referring to an adherent of the heresy (Dictionary of the Orient):

In Christianity, a sectarian doctrine promoting Monophysitism, belonging to the 6th century.
With Aphthartodocetism, the concept and implications of Monophysitism were brought to their extremes. The claimed that the body of Christ was divine, therefore incorruptible and imperishable. Still, Christ had the freedom to chose his sufferings and death, which is also what he did.
The doctrines were launched by Bishop Julian of Halicarnassus (modern Bodrum, Turkey). They were strongly opposed by Patriarch Severus of Antioch, who also was a Monophysite. Their two parties emerged into a schism that would last until the 7th century.

His doctrine found acceptance in the Armenian Church.

Around 520: Bishop Julian promotes the teachings of Aphthartodocetism.
564: Aphthartodocetism is declared a heresy by Byzantine Emperor, Justinian 1.

Rare word #2: antidikomarianitai

On doing some light reading I came across "antidikomarianitai." This word meaning "opponents of Mary" refers to a heretical group that denied the perpetual virginity of Mary. What is great (in one sense anyway) is that you can still use this word when talking to many heterodox today. I would recommend practicing saying it in front of a mirror first much as one would before attempting disestablishmentarianism or supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (oddly the former word was not in my computer's dictionary while the latter was) in public.

Swinging to the other extremes the Collyridians took their devotion to Mary too far and worshipped her as a goddess. You will find them mentioned on occasion as some interpret the Koran as stating that Christians belief Mary to be part of the Trinity.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Rare word #1: phyletism

At least once a day I have to add a word to my Firefox browser's dictionary or go to the OED for a definition as the normal resources (built-in OS X dictionary, Merriam-Webster Online, Onelook) don't have a very liturgical or religious-minded lexicon. To share the wealth (and as I'm a calendar "Word a Day" junkie) I'm going to put these words online.

An excessive emphasis on the principle of nationalism in the organization of church affairs; a policy which attaches greater importance to ethnic identity than to bonds of faith and worship; (originally) spec. the claim of the Bulgarian Church to jurisdiction over Bulgarian nationals in all parts of the world.

This claim led to the condemnation passed in 1872 by the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, and to a schism between the Greek-speaking Orthodox churches and the Bulgarian Church which lasted until 1945.