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Michael Avramovich, Memory Eternal!
Monday, November 28, 2016, 10:00 AM

It is with great sadness that I write that regular MC contributor Michael Avramovich, a dear friend, devout Christian, and supporter of this ministry passed away the day before Thanksgiving. He will be greatly missed. He was a careful writer, sharp thinker, and one of the kindest men you could ever meet. His humor and friendly conversation with colleagues, students, friends, and so many others will not be forgotten. Among many other things, he was deeply concerned about the persecuted church. Michael’s deep personal faith in and love for his Lord shone through so much of his life. May his memory eternal!

Visitation Thursday December 1 — 4:00 -9:00 pm; Pomen (wake service) 7:30 pm.  Kish Funeral Home, 10000 Calumet Ave., Munster, IN.  219-924-3333.

Funeral Friday December 2 — 10:00 am.  St. Archangel Michael Serbian Orthodox Church, 1500 186th St., Lansing, IL.  708-418-3788.


Esolen & the Demise of Catholic Providence?
Wednesday, November 2, 2016, 9:29 AM

You should read this interview Rod Dreher did with Anthony Esolen, the beleagured (and betrayed?) professor at Catholic Providence College in Rhode Island. He is not alone as a professor targeted on the liberal arts college campuses of our nation, where diversity seems to mean that no criticism of “diversity” is allowed, or even discussion of what real diversity should mean.

The Unbreakable Meekness at Hacksaw Ridge
Tuesday, November 1, 2016, 2:48 PM

I saw Hacksaw Ridge last month at a private screening and wrote down my thoughts, posted here at Movie Guide.

Esolen Hammered by His Dominican College
Monday, October 31, 2016, 5:29 PM

If you have benefitted from the writings of Touchstone Senior Editor Anthony Esolen–and there are many of us out there who have–you need to know that he is under severe attack at his school, Providence College, where he teaches Renaissance Literature. His “crimes” include 2 articles written for the Catholic web-magazine ‘Crisis’ which Rod Dreher links to in his post today at The American Conservative:

“We may wish to maintain a faithful presence in the institutions of culture, but that doesn’t mean the culture wants us there, or will let us remain without crossing lines that we cannot in good conscience cross. What then? At the present moment, the literature professor, Dante scholar, and orthodox Catholic Anthony Esolen is under severe attack at his own institution, Providence College, for having recently written a couple of essays criticizing the present conception of “diversity” on his Catholic campus, and reflecting on the persecutorial phase of our culture (here’s one, and here’s the other). Protesting students and even some faculty are attempting to drive him out of the college for wrongthink. They may not succeed, not if tenure means anything, but they are likely to succeed in making his life there hell, such that he would love to shake the dust off his feet and get out of town.

But where would he go? I can think of a few colleges that would love to have him on faculty. Ten years from now, will they? Besides, what about the younger orthodox Christian scholars who, unlike Tony Esolen and James Davison Hunter, don’t have tenure? If they disclose their faith commitments, they may not be let into the institution in the first place”

Screen Shot 2016 10 31 at 10.55.55 AM 216x300 Esolen Hammered by His Dominican College

St. Dominic, founder of Order of Preachers, approved by Pope Honorious III in 1216.

How much worse can it get? It is one thing when an orthodox Catholic is hammered at a state school–and that’s wrong–but another thing when a school like Providence College, supposedly a Dominican college, goes after one of its own faculty.

Dominicans have been known commonly as Blackfriars for the black cape worn over their white robes. Will those now running the schools founded by the Blackfriars increasingly become fascists Brownshirts, seeking out and punishing any and all dissent from LGBT orthodoxy and other PC causes? Can you express doubt about man-caused global warming? Are schools for learning or for indoctrination?

Pray for the Catholic Professor Esolen, translator of Dante’s Comedy, and for his family, for whom a living hell has been made by students and some faculty at a college founded by Dominicans for the spreading of Catholic education.

It will be 900 years this coming December that the Dominican Order was formally approved by Pope Honorius III. What would St. Dominic say about Providence College today? A good question to ask. The phone number of the college is  +1.401.865.1000.


World Premiere of Newly-Composed Greek Liturgy in Chicago
Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 11:54 AM

The newly composed Greek Liturgy by Orthodox composer Fr. Ivan Moody will be premiered on Sunday, October 2, 2016 at the (9:30 AM) celebration of Divine Liturgy at St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church in Chicago.

Based on traditional Greek Chants, the premiere will be sung by the St. Romanos Cappella. This world premiere is part of a series of events celebrating the 90th Anniversary of St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church in Chicago, the Feast of Day of St. Romanos the Melodist, Patron Saint of all church musicians, National Church Music Sunday honoring church musicians across the Archdiocese of America, and the 15th Anniversary of the Society of Saint Romanos the Melodist.  Press release.

Help Float Our Boat!
Tuesday, June 28, 2016, 2:28 PM

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On behalf of The Fellowship of St. James, publisher of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, I request your crucial assistance in supporting this ministry. Please make a generous donation today to help us cut our deficit by July 1st. More than 60 percent of our annual revenues come from donations. We are  92 percent of the way to our goal! You can help us reach it. Thank you and God bless you!

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You can still donate online or, if you prefer, a check may be dated June 30 and mailed to PO Box 410788, Chicago, IL 60641. Thank you.

Never Give Up!
Monday, June 27, 2016, 4:36 PM
Growing asparagus takes some planning and patience. From seed, it takes several years before you get a decent crop that you can harvest without hurting future yields. The plants come back every year and last 20 years or more.
I tried seeds two years ago, which didn’t sprout; this winter I ordered some bare-root one-year-old plants, which I was supposed to plant soon after arrival in late spring. I needed to dig a full 20-foot long trench and replace some of the soil, which meant I couldn’t just pop them in the ground. I needed several hours on a Saturday do all the preparatory work, including purchases. Alas, a combination of bad timing, bad weather, and an overseas trip meant that I planted them much later than I hoped to. They looked dead. I planted them anyway.
I called the place I bought the asparagus from and was told not to give up. The advisor said she had replanted all sorts of seemingly dead plants returned to them in the mail and nearly everything came back after a time. She said to give it 4-6 weeks. “You never know.”Rather than dig them up, I kept watering them, though it seemed pointless. The soil beneath is wonderfully rich, as I add compost, potting soil, bone meal, and more.
I planted some new asparagus seeds in a kit just in case I could get something going. After a couple of weeks, 8 seeds sprouted and I transplanted them between the dry-root plants, which looked as dead as ever. I lost track of how many weeks my dead plants have been faithfully watered, but this morning I was shocked when one of them sported two sprouts a couple of inches tall. Back from the dead!
I don’t know if any of the others will come back; they still look dead to me. But “you never know” and even just one coming back makes the watering seem worthwhile.
And so it goes with the culture, too. Many have given up. I understand. The incoherence of what passes for education in public universities suggests we are only in more of the same decline we have witnessed. While there is little room for debate on when a plant is dead, there is no agreement today on what “progress” means in a culture or whether or not an institution is salvageable.
Birds, bees, and other animals know exactly what to do to flourish.Only human beings seem capable of confusion on what is best for them. They allow their cities to decay, cultures to die, and nations to collapse. While the birds of the air and lilies of the field seem to do just fine, the children of Adam and Eve need help and re-direction.
Touchstone and the Fellowship are committed to giving help and direction, to planting seeds, watering, weeding, cultivating, and nourishing the faith of anyone receptive to the Truth.
Those whom we serve range from high school students to nonagenarians, Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, Orthodox and everything in between. Some are soldiers, Sunday School teachers, lawyers, farmers, housewives, homeschoolers, even former atheists. Even clergy and college professors!
Your support of the ministry can be like sunlight, water, and soil for many, and you will never know the full results of what you support–we are making a real difference, one soul at a time. Every letter, email, or phone call telling us we’ve made difference makes it all worthwhile. Don’t give up. Keep praying for others. 
Would you please help us keep watering the plants, as we labor in the fields, reaching readers young and old with the unchanging Word? We need the generous donations of as many as possible by June 30 to help us get through the next several months. Please, anything you can give today will be greatly appreciated!  Thank you, very much!

Midsummer Gladness
Friday, June 24, 2016, 3:12 PM

The Fellowship of St. James needs at least $74,960 by June 30. I look to the generosity of those who appreciate and support the ministry. Please join with us if you are able with an online donation, or mail a check to The Fellowship of St. James, PO Box 410788, Chicago, IL 60641. All gifts, large and small, are welcome and needed.

June 24, midsummer day, is the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist in the traditional Calendar of the Christian Year. John’s birth is related only in Luke’s Gospel, which presents us with the theme of God’s mercy. John’s coming, prophesies his father Zachariah, is a vehicle through which the Lord God of Israel will “perform the mercy promised to our fathers.” John will “give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, through the tender mercy of God…” (Lk. 1:72, 77-78)

Mercy is also invoked twice in Mary’s Magnificat, inspired by the Spirit when she visited her cousin Elizabeth, who was with child (John the Baptist). At John’s birth, Luke says the neighbors all heard how the Lord had shown mercy to Elizabeth.

Anthony Coniaris cites the book Orthodox Worship on the word mercy (oleos) used (early and often!) in Orthodox worship:

“The word mercy in English is the translation of the Greek word eleos. This word has the same ultimate root as the old Greek word for oil, or more precisely, olive oil; a substance which was used extensively as a soothing agent for bruises and minor wounds. The oil was poured onto the wound and gently massaged in, thus soothing, comforting and making whole the injured part. The Hebrew word which is also translated as eleos and mercy is hesed, and means steadfast love. The Greek words for ‘Lord, have mercy,’ are ‘Kyrie, eleison’ that is to say, ‘Lord, soothe me, comfort me, take away my pain, show me your steadfast love.’ Thus mercy… refer[s]… to the infinite lovingkindness of God, and his compassion for his suffering children! It is in this sense that we pray ‘Lord, have mercy,’ with great frequency throughout the Divine Liturgy.”

I would also add another word to fill out the amplified sense of the petition to say, “Lord, heal me.” I say this because the goal of using oil, it would seem, is also healing:

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. (James 5:14)

On the Feast of St. John’s Nativity, I am reminded that an icon of John the Baptist (not pictured) in Homer Glen, a far southern suburb of Chicago, has been “weeping” oil since sometime last year. The oil has been used to anoint those seeking healing. I know, because I visited the church shortly after Easter this year.

Ahead of me in line outside was a young woman, Bridget, in a wheelchair, who greeted those around her with a disarming solicitude, complimenting one girl on her beautiful appearance. Bridget exuded warmth and love. I thought, “Her body needs healing, but she may be the healthiest person here!”

What I’ve come to understand is that divine healing is meant for the whole person, body and soul. Sometimes the body itself may not be healed much at all while an inner personal healing we didn’t even know we needed takes place. Such healing of our sinsick spiritual hearts does not happen, usually, all at once.

We are made whole by being joined to Christ, which is a daily experience. The mission of God since the fall has been to restore the human race, to bring us back to the Father. Gabriel said that John “will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God… to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just…” (Lk. 1:16-17)

This turning of the heart, in ongoing repentance, is the cure for our ancestral heart disease. It is a gateway and response to the Good News. It is the forerunner of the kingdom. Gabriel said to Zachariah, “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” Today, we are still rejoicing.

“Surprise & Wonder” Signals Battle at the Long-Awaited Orthodox Council?
Monday, June 6, 2016, 3:09 PM

Just days away from the upcoming meeting of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Churches from around the world (which lately has been meeting very roughly every thousand years or so), this communication has been received from Constantinople, that is, from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, host of the event:

The Sacred Endemousa Synod was informed with surprise and wonder of the positions and opinions expressed recently by some sister Orthodox Churches and, after evaluating these, ascertained that no institutional framework allows for the revision of the Synodal process already under way. Therefore, it is expected that the Primates of the most holy Orthodox Churches will bring, in accordance with the Organization and Working Procedure of the Holy and Great Council, any “proposals to amend, correct, or append the Synodal texts that were unanimously approved by the Pan-Orthodox Preconciliar Meetings and by Synaxes of the Primates pertaining to the agenda topics” (see Article 11) for final formulation and decision during the sessions of the Holy and Great Council, with the invocation and inspiration of the All-Holy Spirit.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate, which bears the first responsibility for safeguarding the unity of Orthodoxy, calls all to rise to the occasion and participate, on the pre-determined dates, in the sessions of the Holy and Great Council, as was decided and signed on a pan-Orthodox level both by the Primates during the Sacred Synaxes, as well as by those authorized by each Delegation during the entire lengthy preparatory process of the Council.

I suspect, in part, this is a response to a recent meeting of the Holy Synod of the Bishops of the Orthodox Church of Georgia, which wishes to revise the synodal texts on the agenda, as reported at the Orthodox Christian Laity site:

The Holy Synod concluded that two places in the text of “The Sacrament of Marriage and Impediments to It” require alterations, which are, specifically:

Article 10 of the subchapter “Orthodox Marriage”; Subparagraph “a” of article 5 in the subchapter “Impediments to Marriage”;

Article 10 of the subchapter “Orthodox Marriage” reads: “The Church does not accept a marriage between her members of the same sex; neither does she accept any kind of living together other than that within the bond of Holy Matrimony. The Church directs all her pastoral efforts towards the goal that her members living within such bonds attain true repentance and love, blessed by the Church”.

This subparagraph must be changed in the following way:

“The Church cannot accept a sexual relationship between persons of the same sex, neither can she accept any kind of living together other than in Holy Matrimony, and condemns this sin. The Church is concerned about the eternal lot of the immortal souls of people who continue to live with such a sin, and directs all her pastoral efforts towards their help in cognizing the extreme grievance of this sin to depart from it by way of the true repentance”.

The clear change here includes an explicit condemnation of any “sexual relationship between persons of the same sex” and not just “marriage between members of the same sex.” Then there is another disagreement on what is sometimes called inter-marriage. In this case, the Church of Georgia seems far to the right of many Orthodox.

Subparagraph “a” of article 5 of the second subchapter of “Impediments to Marriage” reads:

“Marriage between the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox is forbidden according to the canonical akriveia and is not blessed (canon 72 of the Trullo Council); however, it can be blessed through tolerance and loving-kindness, but only on condition that the children born within such a marriage will be baptised and brought up in the bosom of the Orthodox Church”.

In the aforementioned article, the first part of the text must be maintained, which reads: “Marriage between an Orthodox and a non-Orthodox is forbidden according to the canonical acribia and is not blessed (canon 72 of the Trullo Council);” but the second part, which reads: “however, it can be blessed through tolerance and loving-kindness, but only on condition that the children born within such a marriage will be baptised and brought up in the bosom of the Orthodox Church”, must be removed as it contradicts the 72nd canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council.

There are other changes noted. “The Holy Synod has concluded that the mentioned document contains ecclesiological and terminological errors and requires serious alterations. If the alterations are not made, the Church of Georgia will not sign the text.” What will be the final outcome?

Canterbury’s Produces (New) Stool
Wednesday, February 17, 2016, 2:25 PM

Official Anglicanism, adrift on the high seas and blown about by every doctrinal wind, in the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, may have another stool to ponder. Rather than simply the three-legged stool of “Scripture, Tradition, and Reason,” Welby proposes adding a new one:

“… in the tension in which we live in a Global Church, there is another trio – of freedom, order and human flourishing – set out by Tim Jenkins in an article in 2002. As a Communion (and as churches) where authority is found in discernment, and expressed in relationship, this trio is of huge importance. It anchors us in the breaking down of barriers, in facing each other, in the beauty of human interaction in love.”

Anglicans who dissent from such drivel continue to meet, plan, labor, and evangelize; this particular story came to me via The American Anglican Council. If you want to speak with real Anglicans nowadays, this is a good place to start.

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