28 June 2011

Saint Ephrem, the Syrian Deacon

Ephrem the Syrian (Aramaic / Syriac: Mor/Mar Afrêm Sûryāyâ; Greek: Ἐφραίμ ὁ Σῦρος; Latin: Ephraem Syrus; ca. 306 – 373) was a Syriac and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the 4th century. He is venerated by Christians throughout the world, and especially in the Syriac Orthodox Church, as a saint.

Ephrem wrote a wide variety of hymns, poems, and sermons in verse, as well as prose biblical exegesis. These were works of practical theology for the edification of the church in troubled times. Ephrem's works witness to an early form of Christianity in which western ideas take little part. He has been called the most significant of all of the fathers of the Syriac-speaking church tradition.

Ephrem was born around the year 306 in the city of Nisibis (the modern Turkish town of Nusaybin, on the border with Syria, which had come into Roman hands only in 298). Internal evidence from Ephrem's hymnody suggests that both his parents were part of the growing Christian community in the city, although later hagiographers wrote that his father was earlier a pagan priest. Numerous languages were spoken in the Nisibis of Ephrem's day, mostly dialects of Aramaic. The Christian community used the Syriac dialect. The culture included pagan religions, Judaism and early Christian sects.

Jacob, the second bishop of Nisibis, was appointed in 308, and Ephrem grew up under his leadership of the community. Jacob of Nisibis is recorded as a signatory at the First Council of Nicea in 325. Ephrem was baptized as a young child, and almost certainly later became a son of the covenant, an unusual form of Syrian proto-monasticism. Jacob appointed Ephrem as a teacher (Syriac malp̄ānâ, a title that still carries great respect for Syriac Christians). He was ordained as a deacon. He began to compose hymns and write biblical commentaries as part of his educational office. In his hymns, he sometimes refers to himself as a 'herdsman' (‘allānâ), to his bishop as the 'shepherd' (rā‘yâ) and his community as a 'fold' (dayrâ). Ephrem is popularly credited as the founder of the School of Nisibis, which in later centuries was the centre of learning of the Church of the East.

In 337 Emperor Constantine I, who had legalised and promoted the practice of Christianity in the Roman Empire, died. Seizing on this opportunity, Shapur II began a series of attacks into Roman North Mesopotamia. Nisibis was besieged in 338, 346 and 350. During the first siege, Ephrem credits Bishop Jacob as defending the city with his prayers. In the third siege, of 350, Shapur rerouted the River Mygdonius to undermine the walls of Nisibis. The Nisibenes quickly repaired the walls while the Persian elephant cavalry became bogged down in the wet ground. Ephrem celebrated what he saw as the miraculous salvation of the city in a hymn which portrayed Nisibis as being like Noah's Ark, floating to safety on the flood.

One important physical link to Ephrem's lifetime is the baptistery of Nisibis. The inscription tells that it was constructed under Bishop Vologeses in 359. In that year Shapur attacked again. The cities around Nisibis were destroyed one by one, and their citizens killed or deported. Constantius II was unable to respond; the campaign of Julian ended with his death in battle. His army elected Jovian as the new emperor, and to rescue his army he was forced to surrender Nisibis to Persia, and permit the expulsion of the entire Christian population.

Ephrem with the others went first to Amida (Diyarbakır), eventually settling in Edessa (modern Şanlıurfa) in 363. Ephrem, in his late fifties, applied himself to ministry in his new church, and seems to have continued his work as a teacher, perhaps in the School of Edessa. Edessa had always been at the heart of the Syriac-speaking world and the city was full of rival philosophies and religions. Ephrem comments that Orthodox Nicene Christians were simply called 'Palutians' in Edessa, after a former bishop. Arians, Marcionites, Manichees, Bardaisanites and various Gnostic sects proclaimed themselves as the true church. In this confusion, Ephrem wrote a great number of hymns defending Nicene Orthodoxy. A later Syriac writer, Jacob of Serugh, wrote that Ephrem rehearsed choirs to sing his hymns set to Syriac folk tunes in the forum of Edessa. After a ten-year residency in Edessa, in his sixties, Ephrem succumbed to the plague as he ministered to its victims. The most reliable date for his death is 9 June 373.

Over four hundred hymns composed by Ephrem still exist. Granted that some have been lost, Ephrem's productivity is not in doubt. The church historian Sozomen credits Ephrem with having written over three million lines. Ephrem combines in his writing a threefold heritage: he draws on the models and methods of early Rabbinic Judaism, he engages skillfully with Greek science and philosophy, and he delights in the Mesopotamian/Persian tradition of mystery symbolism.

The most important of his works are his lyric, teaching hymns (madrāšê). These hymns are full of rich, poetic imagery drawn from biblical sources, folk tradition, and other religions and philosophies. The madrāšê are written in stanzas of syllabic verse, and employ over fifty different metrical schemes. Each madrāšâ had its qālâ, a traditional tune identified by its opening line. All of these qālê are now lost. It seems that Bardaisan and Mani composed madrāšê, and Ephrem felt that the medium was a suitable tool to use against their claims. The madrāšê are gathered into various hymn cycles. Each group has a title — Carmina Nisibena, On Faith, On Paradise, On Virginity, Against Heresies — but some of these titles do not do justice to the entirety of the collection (for instance, only the first half of the Carmina Nisibena is about Nisibis). Each madrāšâ usually had a refrain (‘ûnîṯâ), which was repeated after each stanza.

Particularly influential were his Hymns Against Heresies. Ephrem used these to warn his flock of the heresies which threatened to divide the early church. He lamented that the faithful were "tossed to and fro and carried around with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness and deceitful wiles." He devised hymns laden with doctrinal details to inoculate right-thinking Christians against heresies such as docetism. The Hymns Against Heresies employ colourful metaphors to describe the Incarnation of Christ as a fully human and divine. Ephrem asserts that Christ's unity of humanity and divinity represents peace, perfection and salvation; in contrast, docetism and other heresies sought to divide or reduce Christ's nature, and in doing so would rend and devalue Christ's followers with their false teachings.

Ephrem also wrote verse homilies (mêmrê). These sermons in poetry are far fewer in number than the madrāšê. The mêmrê are written in a heptosyllabic couplets (pairs of lines of seven syllables each).

The third category of Ephrem's writings is his prose work. He wrote biblical commentaries on the Diatessaron (the single gospel harmony of the early Syriac church), on Genesis and Exodus, and on the Acts of the Apostles and Pauline Epistles. He also wrote refutations against Bardaisan, Mani, Marcion and others.

Ephrem wrote exclusively in the Syriac language, but translations of his writings exist in Armenian, Coptic, Georgian, Greek and other languages. Some of his works are only extant in translation (particularly in Armenian). Syriac churches still use many of Ephrem's hymns as part of the annual cycle of worship. However, most of these liturgical hymns are edited and conflated versions of the originals.

The most complete, critical text of authentic Ephrem was compiled between 1955 and 1979 by Dom Edmund Beck OSB as part of the Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium.

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27 June 2011

Hodegetria or Black Madonna of Częstochowa

The Black Madonna of Częstochowa (Czarna Madonna or Matka Boska Częstochowska in Polish, Imago thaumaturga Beatae Virginis Mariae Immaculatae Conceptae, in Claro Monte in Latin, Ченстоховская икона Божией Матери in Church Slavonic) is a holy icon of the Virgin Mary, that is both Poland's holiest relic and one of the country's national symbols.
The origins of the icon and the date of its composition are from the life of Saint Luke the Evangleist. The difficulty scientists have in dating the icon stems from the fact that the original image was painted over after being badly damaged by Hussite raiders in 1430. Medieval restorers unfamiliar with the encaustic method found that the paints they applied to the damaged areas "simply sloughed off the image" according to the medieval chronicler Risinius, and their solution was to erase the original image and to repaint it on the original panel, which was believed to be holy because of its legendary origin as a table top from the home of the Holy Family. The painting displays a traditional composition well-known in the icons of Eastern Orthodoxy. The Virgin Mary is shown as the "Hodegetria" ("One Who Shows the Way"). In it the Virgin directs attention away from herself, gesturing with her right hand toward Jesus as the source of salvation. In turn, the child extends his right hand toward the viewer in blessing while holding a book of gospels in his left hand. The icon shows the Madonna in fleur de lys robes.

The icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa has been intimately associated with Poland for the past six hundred years. Its history prior to its arrival in Poland traces the holy icon's origin to St. Luke who painted it on a cypress table top from the house of the Holy Family.

One of the oldest documents from Jasna Góra states that the picture travelled from Jerusalem, via Constantinople and Belz, to finally reach Częstochowa in August 1382 by Władysław Opolczyk, Duke of Opole. However more recent Ukrainian sources state that it was taken by Władysław Opolski from the Castle of Belz, when the town was incorporated into the Polish kingdom and that earlier in its history it was brought to Belz with much ceremony and honors by Knyaz Lev I of Galicia. The golden fleur-de-lis painted on the Virgin's blue veil parallel the azure, semee de lis, or of the French royal coat of arms and the most likely explanation for their presence is that icon had been present in Hungary during the reign of either Charles I of Hungary and/or Louis the Great, the Hungarian kings of the Anjou dynasty, who probably had the fleur-de-lis of their family's coat of arms painted on the icon. This would suggest that the icon was probably originally brought to Jasna Gora by the Pauline monks from their founding monastery in Hungary.

The presence of the holy painting saved its church from being destroyed in a fire, but not before the flames darkened the fleshtone pigments.
The legend concerning the two scars on the Black Madonna's right cheek is that the Hussites stormed the Pauline monastery in 1430, plundering the sanctuary. Among the items stolen was the icon. After putting it in their wagon, the Hussites tried to get away but their horses refused to move. They threw the portrait down to the ground and one of the plunderers drew his sword upon the image and inflicted two deep strikes. When the robber tried to inflict a third strike, he fell to the ground and squirmed in agony until his death. Despite past attempts to repair these scars, they had difficulty in covering up those slashes (as they found out that the painting was painted with tempera infused with diluted wax).
Another legend states that, as the robber struck the painting twice, the face of the Virgin Mary started to bleed; in a panic, the scared Hussites retreated and left the painting.

Orthodox Christians were not unaware of the Black Maddona. They too venerate her as an icon written by the holy evangelist Saint Luke.

In Vodou, it is believed that a common depiction of Erzulie has its roots in copies of the icon of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, brought to Haiti by Polish soldiers fighting on both sides of the Haitian Revolution from 1802 onwards.

In Santeria, this image is referred to as Santa Barbara Africana.

Ukrainians also have a special devotion for the Hodegetria Theotokos of Częstochowa.

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26 June 2011

Early Christian Art and Architecture

Early Christian art and architecture is the art produced by Christians or under Christian patronage from about the year 100 to about the year 500. Prior to 100 there is no surviving art that can be called Christian with absolute certainty. After about 500, all Christian art definitely shows the beginnings of Orthodox Byzantine artistic style.

Prior to 100 Christians may have been constrained by their position as a persecuted group from producing durable works of art. Since Christianity was largely a religion of the lower classes in this period, the lack of surviving art may reflect a lack of funds for patronage.
Early Christians used fresco, mosaics, sculpture, and manuscript illumination. Early Christian art not only used Roman forms, it also used Roman styles. Late classical style included a proportional portrayal of the human body and impressionistic presentation of space. Late classical style is seen in early Christian frescos, such as those in the catacombs of Rome.

Early Christians also developed their own iconography, for example, such symbols as the fish (ikhthus), were not borrowed from pagan iconography.

After about the year 200, Christian art is divided into two periods by scholars: before and after the First Council of Nicea in 325, before being the Ante-Nicene Period and after being the period of the First seven Ecumenical Councils.

During the persecution of Christians under the Roman Empire, Christian art was necessarily and deliberately furtive and ambiguous, using imagery that was shared with pagan culture but had a special meaning for Christians. The earliest surviving Christian art comes from the 2nd century on the walls of Christian tombs in the catacombs of Rome. From literary evidence, there may well have been panel icons which, like almost all classical painting, have disappeared. Initially Jesus was represented indirectly by pictogram symbols such as the Ichthys (fish), peacock, Lamb of God, or an anchor (the Labarum or Chi-Rho was a later development). Later personified symbols were used, including Jonah, whose three days in the belly of the whale pre-figured the interval between the death and resurrection of Jesus, Daniel in the lion's den, or Orpheus' charming the animals. The image of "The Good Shepherd", a beardless youth in pastoral scenes collecting sheep, was the commonest of these images, and was probably not understood as a portrait of the historical Jesus. The "almost total absence from Christian monuments of the period of persecutions of the plain, unadorned cross" except in the disguised form of the anchor, is notable. The Cross, symbolizing Jesus' crucifixion on a cross, was not represented explicitly for several centuries, possibly because crucifixion was a punishment meted out to common criminals, but also because literary sources noted that it was a symbol recognised as specifically Christian, as the sign of the cross was made by Christians from very early on.
  • The dove is a symbol of peace and purity. It can be found with a halo or celestial light. In one of the earliest known Trinitarian images, "the Throne of God as a Trinitarian image" (a marble relief carved c. 400 CE in the collection of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), the dove represents the Spirit. It is flying above an empty throne representing God the Father, in the throne are a chlamys (cloak) and diadem representing the Son.
  • The fish is used as a symbol for Jesus Christ. It represents Jesus' last supper as well as the water used to baptize Christians. In Greek, the word "fish" provides the initials of the title "Jesus Christ Son of God Saviour" and is used as a rebus for Christ's name.
  • The lamb symbolizes Jesus' sacrifice or Christians when there are several.
  • The figure of the Good Shepherd resembles earlier shepherd figures in pagan Classical art that represent benevolence and philanthropy. Additional meaning would have been ascribed to the figure by early Christian viewers in the context of Christ's phrase "I am the shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep," and St John the Baptist's description of Christ as "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world."
  • The Chi-Rho monogram, XP, possibly first used by Constantine I, consists of the first two characters of the name 'Christos' in Greek. It was popular in the period after Christianity emerged into the open.
In the 4th century, Christians were prepared to build larger and more handsome edifices for worship than the home chapels they had been using. Architectural formulas for temples were unsuitable, not simply for their pagan associations, but because pagan cult and sacrifices occurred outdoors under the open sky in the sight of the gods, with the temple, housing the cult figures and the treasury, as a backdrop. The usable model at hand, when Emperor Constantine I wanted to memorialize his imperial piety, was the familiar conventional architecture of the basilicas. These had a center nave with one aisle at each side and an apse at one end: on this raised platform sat the bishop and priests.

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23 June 2011

The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist According to Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco

Among the Church's feasts, there are three in honor of God's saints which in their significance stand out from the others devoted to the saints and are numbered among the great feasts of the Church of Christ. These feasts glorify the economy of God for our salvation.

These three feasts are the Nativity of St. John the Forerunner, his Beheading, and the feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

The apparition of the holy Archangel Gabriel to the priest Zacharias in the Temple, with the announcement of the birth to him and the righteous Elizabeth, of a son who would prepare the way for the Lord, the Savior of the world, and the subsequent fulfillment of this premise, are the first of the events related by the Evangelists.

The announcement of the holy Archangel Gabriel to Zacharias in the Temple begins the New Testament Gospel. The announcement of the same Archangel Gabriel six months later in Nazareth to the Virgin Mary concerning the birth from Her of the Son of God, Who was to become incarnate, is a continuation of the revelation of the Pre-eternal Counsel concerning the salvation of the human race.

Three months after, the Annunciation, St. John the Forerunner was born "in a city of Judah," and six months after him Christ Himself was born in Bethlehem.

These events are closely bound together. "The glorious conception of the Forerunner proclaimeth beforehand the King Who is to be born of a Virgin" (Exapostilarion, Sept. 23, Feast of the Conception of John the Baptist). The announcement of the Archangel Gabriel in the Temple, announced later to all living nearby by Zacharias, in the magnificent hymn, which he sang after the birth of the child, John and the restoration to him of the gift of speech (Luke 1:67-79), is the forerunner of the angelic hymn: "Glory to God in the highest;" which was sung in Bethlehem by the angels when they announced to the shepherds the Nativity of Christ.

The Nativity of John the Baptist is the first joy sent down by God to the human race, the beginning of its deliverance from the power of the devil, sin and eternal death.

It is true that even before the Forerunner, the Most Holy Virgin Mary was born, and angels announced Her birth to Her parents. However, at that time, only Her parents knew of the exalted lot that was prepared for the Virgin Who was born, and they themselves were not fully aware of what had been announced to them beforehand. Therefore, it was only they, who celebrated at the birth of their Daughter, while the rest of the world only later understood the joy that had been announced (to it), by this birth.

For this reason, the feasts of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos and Her Entrance into the Temple were established in the Church and began to be solemnly celebrated significantly later than the other great feasts, whereas the Nativity of John the Forerunner is one of the most ancient and most venerated of Christian feasts. Sermons on this feast have been preserved from the first centuries.

From the day of the Nativity of John the Forerunner, the preparation of the human race begins for meeting the Son of God on earth. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people . . . And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Most High: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways (Luke 1:68, 76). These God-inspired words of the priest Zacharias, after he had regained the gift of speech, were made known in all the land of Judea, causing disturbance to all living there, who asked each other in astonishment: What manner of child shall this be? (Luke 1:66).

Involuntarily the thought arose: Is this not the Messiah Himself? Judea was in an especially tense state of expectation of the Savior. Thus, the child John prepared the way for the Lord by his very birth; and even while he was still in the womb of His mother, by his leaping (Luke 1:41) he announced the coming birth of the Child Jesus, as if crying out: "Christ is born, give ye glory. Christ comes from heaven, meet ye Him" (Irmos, Canticle One of the Canon, Feast of the Nativity of Christ).

Being born exactly half a year before Christ, John the Forerunner by the exact time of his birth depicted his mission of preparing the way for the Lord. He was born at the time of the year (June 24) when the day begins to grow shorter after the summer solstice, whereas the Nativity of Christ occurs (December 25) when the day begins to grow longer after the winter solstice. These facts are an embodiment of the words spoken later, by the Forerunner, after the beginning of Christ's preaching: He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).

"The herald of the Sun, the Forerunner" was John the Baptist, who was like the morning star that announces the rising of the Sun of Righteousness in the East.

Just as the very event of the Nativity of John the Baptist was the antechamber of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, so also the feast of the Nativity of John the Forerunner is also the antechamber of the feast of the Nativity of Christ. "The star of stars, the Forerunner, is born on earth today, from a barren womb, John the beloved of God, and manifests the dawning of Christ, the Orient from on high" (Glory at Lauds, of the Feast, June 24). "The whole creation rejoiceth at thy divine nativity: for thou wast shown forth as an earthly angel, O Forerunner and a heavenly man, proclaiming to us, the God of heaven incarnate" (Cantile Five of the Canon). "O Prophet and Forerunner of the coming of Christ, we who venerate thee with love, are in perplexity how worthily to praise thee; for the barrenness of her who bore thee and the dumbness of thy father are loosed by thy glorious and precious nativity, and the incarnation of the Son of God is preached to the world" (Troparion of the Feast).

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22 June 2011

Religion in Antarctica

Antarctica has several religious buildings used for worship services:
  • Chapel of the Snows, Antarctica, a non-denominational Christian chapel at McMurdo Station, Ross Island;
  • Trinity Church, Antarctica, a Russian Orthodox church at Bellingshausen Station, South Shetland Islands;
  • St. Ivan Rilski Chapel, a Bulgarian Orthodox chapel at St. Kliment Ohridski Base), South Shetland Islands;
  • San Francisco de Asis Chapel, a Catholic chapel at Esperanza Base, Antarctic Peninsula;
  • Chapel of Santisima Virgen de Lujan, Antarctica, a Catholic chapel at Marambio Base, Seymour Island;
  • Santa Maria Reina de la Paz Church, a Catholic church at the Villa Las Estrellas, South Shetland Islands;
  • A permanent Catholic chapel made entirely of ice at Belgrano II Base, Coats Land.
  • The Worldwide Antarctic Program proposes building a Catholic chapel at Mario Zucchelli Station, Terra Nova Bay, Antarctica; while the first Catholic chapel (named after Saint Francis of Assisi) was built in 1976 at the Argentine Esperanza Base. The southernmost Catholic chapel lies at the Argentine Belgrano II Base.
There are also churches on some of the Antarctic islands situated north of 60° south latitude (and thus not part of the Antarctic Treaty System), including Grytviken on South Georgia (since 1913), and Port-aux-Français on the main island of Kerguelen.

Chapel of the Snows is a non-denominational Christian church located at the United States McMurdo Station on Ross Island, Antarctica. The chapel is the southernmost religious building in the world and has regular Catholic and Protestant services. During the Austral Summer, the chapel is staffed by rotational chaplains. The U.S. Air National Guard supplies Protestant Chaplains and the Archdiocese of New Zealand supplies Catholic Priests. The chapel is also host to services and meetings for other faith groups such as Latter Day Saints, Baha'i, and Buddhism and non-religious groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. These meetings are dependent on lay-leadership to be the points of contact and facilitators. The building itself may hold up to 63 worshippers. The current chapel, dedicated in 1989, features custom stained glass featuring the Antarctica Continent, the Erebus Chalice (during Austral Summers only), and memorabilia from the US Navy's historic involvement in Operation Deep Freeze.

Trinity Church (Russian: Церковь Святой Троицы) is a small Russian Orthodox church on King George Island near Russian Bellingshausen Station in Antarctica. It is the southernmost Eastern Orthodox church in the world.

The ambitious project to establish a permanent church or even a monastery on Antarctica surfaced during the 1990s. A charity named Temple for Antarctica (Храм - Антарктиде) was approved by Patriarch Alexius II and received donations from across Russia. They organized a competition for the project that was won by architects from Barnaul P.I. Anisifirov, S.G. Rybak and A.B. Schmidt.

The church is a 15m-high wooden structure built in traditional Russian style. It can accommodate up to 30 worshipers. The structure was built out of Siberian Pine by Altay carpenters led by K.V. Khromov, then dismantled, taken by truck to Kaliningrad and shipped to King George Island by the Russian supply ship Academician Vavilov. It was assembled on high ground near the sea shore by the staff of Bellingshausen Station, under the general supervision of the 30-year-old Father Kallistrat (Romanenko), who was to become the church's first priest. Kallistrat, a hieromonk of Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra, had previously served at the Lavra's skete on Anzer Island in the subarctic Solovki Archipelago.

The iconostasis of the church was created by Palekh painters. The church bells were commissioned by the descendants of Sergey Muravyov-Apostol.

The church was consecrated on February 15, 2004, by Theognost (Феогност), the Bishop of Sergiyev Posad and the Namestnik (abbot) of Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra, who visited Antarctica for this occasion, along with a number of other clerics, pilgrims, and sponsors.

The church is manned year-around by one or two Orthodox priests, who are hieromonks of Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra volunteering for the Antarctic assignment. Similarly to the personnel of most year-round Antarctic stations, the priests are rotated annually by the Lavra; however, several of them, including Father Kallistrat, chose to come back to King George Island for another one-year tour of duty after a year or two on the mainland.

Among the priests' tasks are praying for the souls of the 64 Russian people who have died in Antarctic expeditions and serving the spiritual needs of the staff of Bellingshausen Station and other nearby stations. Besides Russian polar researchers, the church is often visited by their colleagues from the nearby Chilean, Polish, Korean, and other research stations, as well as by tourists. For the benefit of Latin American visitors, some church services are conducted in Spanish.

On occasions, the priest baptizes new adherents of Christianity in the Southern Ocean. On 29 January 2007, the priest of the church celebrated what was likely the first ever church wedding in Antarctica. The husband, Eduardo Aliaga Ilabaca, is a staff member of a Chilean Antarctic base, who had joined the Orthodox Church soon after the opening of the Antarctic temple; his wife, Angelina Zhuldybina, is Russian.

When not busy with church work, priests help out with the general maintenance of the Bellingshausen station.

The St. Ivan Rilski Chapel (St. John of Rila Chapel, Bulgarian: Параклис Свети Иван Рилски) at the Bulgarian base St. Kliment Ohridski on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands is the first Eastern Orthodox edifice in Antarctica, and was once the southernmost Eastern Orthodox building of worship in the world (cf. Trinity Church, Antarctica). The three foundation stones of the 3.5 by 3.5m building were laid on 9 December 2001 by Protodeacon Lyubomir Bratoev, and the completed Chapel was consecrated on 9 February 2003.

The Chapel’s bell was donated by Nikola Vasilev, ex-Vice Premier of Bulgaria who worked as a doctor at the Bulgarian base in the 1993/94 season, while the roof cross was donated by the Bulgarian artist Dicho Kapushev. The Chapel features an icon of Jesus Christ the Bridegroom by the Bulgarian artist Georgi Dimov, and an icon of St. Ivan Rilski donated by President Georgi Parvanov of Bulgaria who visited and lit a candle in the Chapel on 15 January 2005.

The Chapel of Santisima Virgen de Lujan is a Roman Catholic chapel located at the Argentine base Marambio on Seymour-Marambio Island in Antarctica. The permanent steel-structured chapel is used for Christian worship by the various Argentine personnel on station (as well as visitors). The chapel features a bell-tower and cross.

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17 June 2011

Summer Secrets

Jack Frost's winter home in China hosts a plethora of cool spots in the hottest season. Raymond Zhou reports.

Harbin is world famous for its ice and snow extravaganza. But its summer charm could be the best-kept secret in the tourism industry - and this doesn't include the weather, which is mild and hardly needs air conditioning at night. Here are 10 things you can do in Harbin - not just to escape the heat wave but also to bask in the fun that only China's northeasternmost provincial capital (of Heilongjiang province) can offer.

1. Spend half a day to walk along the 1,450-meter-long Central Pedestrian Street. It is Harbin's equivalent of Paris' Champs Elysees, although not as wide (it's about 22 meters). If you are an architecture expert, you'll be able to pinpoint the origins of the buildings that flank the street.

As a matter of fact, the street leading to the obelisk in commemoration of flood control by the Songhua River incorporates styles from Baroque to Art Nouveau. Lovingly restored to their former grandeur, the buildings along this corridor of architectural diversity offer the most vibrant commerce and the best people-watching opportunities in town.

And feel the road's surface while walking. What appear to be pebbles are actually 18-cm long granite slabs inserted into the ground and were designed by a Russian engineer to withstand wear and tear - and the harsh winter weather - for at least 200 years.

2. Ramble around and inside Saint Sophia Cathedral, located in downtown Harbin. The Russian Orthodox church was built in 1907 and rebuilt in 1923.

It is a lonely reminder of the time when more than a dozen Russian churches dotted the city landscape. Now stripped of its religious function but largely refurbished - by clearing the neighborhood for a 7,000-sq-meter plaza, but not repainting the interior - it houses a museum that displays photos and miniatures of old Harbin in a mythical haze. Since its restoration in 1997, the green-domed red-brick, byzantine structure has become a city landmark.

3. Harbin is a rare Chinese city where you can encounter musicians performing on the street who are not organized by the government for special functions. (Some are sponsored by businesses, though.)

They are not panhandlers and do not have open violin cases to collect donations. They just love to play music. And pedestrians love them, too. The applause is spontaneous and heartfelt.

Even though the renowned Harbin Summer Music Concert is silent this year - it is held once every two years - you'll have plenty of chances to enjoy live music at both the expected hangouts, such as outside bars, and unexpected spots, such as one branch of Harbin Bank that offers two sessions of piano and guitar playing a day - by its own well-trained bank staff.

Oh, did I mention Harbin was awarded the title of "Music City" by the UN last year?

4. A clear sign of Russian emigrants' influence is that the people of Harbin love beer.

Every July since 2002, there has been a beer bash, where you can literally taste a hundred brands and drink till you drop. As long as you do not drive afterwards, you can drown your worries and sorrows, and ratchet up your level of inebriated euphoria. To add to the festive mood, there are usually parades and carnivals.

Harbin is the first Chinese city to brew and ferment "liquid bread". And the two-week event has quickly risen to rank as one of the top three beer festivals nationwide (the others being in Liaoning province's Dalian and Shandong province's Qingdao).

Of course, you do not have to attend the festival to be among the most beer-loving citizens of China. There is an endless array of bars and pubs where you can drink beer in the same way that Parisians drink coffee on the sidewalk.

5. About half an hour outside downtown Harbin is a place called Volgar Manor, where you'll be forgiven for believing you are in Russia.

It has Russian entertainment, Russian food, Russian baths, Russian dachas, etc. But the 30-something buildings, constructed in exquisite and multifarious Russian styles, house stories galore. Most are recreations of historical structures that used to exist in Harbin or Russia but are sadly no longer extant.

Take St. Nicholas Church. Built in the late 19th century, it was the biggest landmark in Harbin until Red Guards tore it down in 1966.

Now the wooden structure stands in this 60-hectare theme park by a quiet river. Then there is the Miniature Restaurant, the original of which was built on Sun Island in 1926 and was destroyed by a fire in 1997.

The same-size replicas, now housing restaurants, hotels and an art gallery, are spread out among a fairytale setting of verdant greens and flowing water. In the summer, the glow of the sun bounces off leaves and roofs, attracting hordes of wedding photo takers and vacationers.

6. Try the khleb, Russian for "bread", what Harbinians call "lieba".

It is a big lump that could scare and surprise people from other parts of the country. (At its peak, Russians accounted for half of the city's multinational population and have left a rich gastronomic and architectural legacy.)

Another import from Russian cuisine is red sausage, which is wildly distinct from sausages anywhere else in China. For authentic Chinese food, don't miss the northeastern stew, which is Manchurian in origin.

7. Get up close and personal with the Northeast tiger - aka the Siberian tiger - at Heilongjiang Northeast Tiger Forest Park.

The world's largest breeding base of this endangered species had only eight tigers to start with in the late 1980s and now has grown to accommodate 800. You can ride a specially outfitted vehicle where you are kept in captivity while the tigers roam free. Just think that, given the destruction of primitive forests, there is little chance you'll encounter a real tiger in the wilderness.

8. Ride the small train from Bayan to Tonghe on a 188-km narrower-than-usual rail - previously used for logging and still powered by a steam locomotive - through the rural lushness of Harbin.

It's a bit out of the way and has to be pre-arranged by calling 0451-5789-2309, but you'll feel the embrace of Northeast China's summer luxuriance.

9. Go hunting at Yuquan, 55 km from downtown.

The former royal hunting ground has amenities for not only hunting but also for vacationing. You can also refresh your knowledge of the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), when ancestors of the Manchu, fighting such Han generals as Yue Fei, were commemorated.

10. Last but perhaps most important, visit the vast stretches of wetlands.

Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of downtown are 125,000 hectares of wetlands, which could be Harbin's greatest ecological resource.

Not in plain view, yet within easy access - even by public transport - the wetlands offer unvarnished views of Mother Nature in their watery and shimmering splendor.

You can take a cruise along the Songhua River with a dozen choices of vessels, from luxury steamboats to double-paddle fishing canoes. Or you can take the cross-river cable car, glide from a balloon or bike along the paved roads.

By conventional means, you have six river courses and eight land routes to choose from. The First Wetland Tourism Festival, opening earlier this month, is a celebration of Harbin's second biggest wonder in its backyard - next to its ice and snow show in January and February.

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14 June 2011

Whittuesday: Third Day of the Holy Trinity

Whit Tuesday (Pentecost Tuesday, Whitsun Tuesday) is the Christian holiday celebrated the day after Pentecost Monday, the third day of the week beginning on Pentecost. Pentecost is a movable feast in the Christian calendar dependent upon the date of Pascha (Easter).

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Whit Tuesday is known as the "Third Day of the Trinity" and is part of the Feast of Pentecost. Not only monasteries and cathedrals, but parish churches often celebrate the Divine Liturgy on this day.

It used to be a public holiday, at least in Sweden. It was abolished 4 November 1772, together with the second day of Christmas, 27 December {Tredjedag jul, "Third-day Christmas" in Swedish}, Tredje- and Fjärdedag Påsk {2nd and 3rd Easter day} and the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, 2 February {Kyndelsmässodagen}.

The Dancing procession of Echternach takes place on Pentecost Tuesday. The dancing procession of Echternach is an annual Roman Catholic dancing procession held at Echternach, in eastern Luxembourg. Echternach's is the last traditional dancing procession in Europe.

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13 June 2011

Whitmonday: (Mon)Day of the Holy Spirit

Whit Monday or Pentecost Monday (also known as Monday of the Holy Spirit) is the holiday celebrated the day after Pentecost, a movable feast in the Christian calendar. It is movable because it is determined by the date of Easter.

Whit Monday gets its English name for following "Whitsun", the day that became one of the three baptismal seasons. The origin of the name "Whit Sunday" is generally attributed to the white garments formerly worn by those newly baptized on this feast.

Until 1973, Whit Monday was a public holiday in Ireland. It was a bank holiday in the United Kingdom until 1967. It was formally replaced by the fixed Spring Bank Holiday on the last Monday in May in 1971. It was also a public holiday in various former British colonies, especially in the Pacific. It is still a public holiday in some of the countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean.

The Monday after Pentecost is also a holiday in Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Gibraltar, Hungary, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, and Switzerland. In many of these countries, Whit Monday is known as "the second day of Pentecost" or "the second Whitsun". In France, it was a non-pay work day for many workers from 2005 to 2007. This was to raise extra funds for elderly and disabled people. It became a public holiday again in 2008. In Liechtenstein, Whit Monday is considered to be a "favorite holiday"; much like Christmas in many other countries. In Germany, Whit Monday (German: Pfingstmontag) is a Holy Day of Obligation for Roman Catholics.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church Whit Monday is known as "Monday of the Holy Spirit" or "Day of the Holy Spirit" and is the first day of the afterfeast of Pentecost, being dedicated specifically to the honor of God the Holy Spirit and particularly to the historical event of his descent on the holy apostles on Pentecost. The day following is known as Third Day of the Trinity. In the services on the Monday of the Holy Spirit many of the same hymns are sung as on the day of Pentecost itself. During the Divine Liturgy the Deacon intones the same introit as on the day of Pentecost, and the dismissal is the same as on the day of Pentecost. Special canons to the Holy Spirit are chanted at Compline and Matins.

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08 June 2011

The Great Doxology

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace,
good will towards men.
We praise Thee;
we bless Thee;
we worship Thee;
we glorify Thee;
we give thanks to Thee
for Thy great glory:
O Lord, Heavenly King,
God the Father Almighty,
O Lord the Only-begotten Son,
Jesus Christ,
and the Holy Spirit,
O Lord God,
Lamb of God,
Son of the Father,
that takest away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us,
Thou that takest away the sins of the world.
Receive our prayer,
Thou that sittest at the right hand of the Father;
and have mercy on us.
For Thou only art holy;
Thou only art Lord,
Jesus Christ,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Every day will I bless Thee,
and I will praise Thy Name for ever,
yea, for ever and ever.
Vouchsafe, O Lord,
to keep us this day without sin.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord, the God of our Fathers,
and praised and glorified is Thy Name unto the ages. Amen.
Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us,
according as we have hoped in Thee.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord, teach me Thy statutes.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord, teach me Thy statutes.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord, teach me Thy statutes.
Lord, Thou hast been our refuge from generation to generation.
I said: O Lord, have mercy on me;
heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee.
Lord, unto Thee have I fled for refuge;
teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God.
For in Thee is the fountain of life;
in Thy light shall we see light.
O continue Thy mercy unto them that know Thee.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Translation by Holy Transfiguration Monastery, from The Great Horologion, 101-102.
This is the Great Doxology which appears in Eastern Orthodox Matins and Great Compline liturgies daily througout the world. It is also found among the Odes (as Ode 14) following the Psalms in various manuscripts of the Septuagint, most notably and earliest, the great Codex Alexandrinus. Aside from some minor textual differences, this “morning hymn” (more properly “matins hymn”) is the same today as it was in the late fourth or early fifth century when the texts for Alexandrinus originated. Try that on for liturgical stability! Scholarly types will also find it in their Rahlfs, in the second volume, pages 181-183, or on the last page of the Psalmi cum Odis of the Göttingen Septuaginta. The major differences between these texts are: the insertion of a line between Rahlfs lines 35 and 36:
Γένοιτο, Κύριε, τὸ ἔλεός Σου, ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καθάπερ ἠλπίσαμεν ἐπὶ Σέ.;
and the attachment at the end of a threefold Trisagion and the Doxology. There are also some minor variations in the manuscripts in lines 4 through 8.

A shortened version of this Great Doxology, the Gloria in Excelsis Deo, commonly referred to simply as the Gloria, is also found in the Roman Catholic and other dependent traditions, also for Matins, and in the Ordinary of Mass. Curiously, a short version of the Greek Great Doxology roughly equivalent in length to the Latin version is also found in the Apostolic Constitutions VII.47. The wording is somewhat different, which is not surprising in the AC, otherwise well-known for its alteration of source materials by interpolation, omission, and replacement. But this is also good evidence that a shorter version of the Great Doxology, roughly similar to the Latin version, was in use in the fourth century in at least some places.

Like much of early Christian liturgical hymnology whose precise origins are lost to us, the Great Doxology is largely a pastiche of other biblical texts, beginning with Luke 2.14, and containing other extracts from the Psalms and other texts. As may be well known, the other Odes include various hymns and songs otherwise found in biblical texts, including the Magnificat or Prayer of Mary the Theotokos from Luke 1.46-55, 68-79; the Nunc Dimittis or Prayer of Symeon from Luke 2.29-32, and even the Song of the Three Youths from the Additions to Daniel chapter 3, and the Prayer of Manasseh. All of these were used in various liturgical settings, and so such collections of Odes were typically practical, and not just excercises in redundancy.

I have always enjoyed discoveries like these, which show the deep roots of Eastern Orthodox traditions in particular, their great antiquity, and the respect in which these liturgical writings were held even in the distant past, so as to even be bound in a pandect manuscript of a Bible, and one of the most famous surviving from antiquity, at that! One can’t help but be reassured, feeling a sense of stability and certainty in knowing that this text has remained the same for over 1600 years, and has been sung every day for all that time. One also can’t help but be amazed at such a thing.

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07 June 2011

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Have Mercy on us!

The Trisagion (Greek: Τρισάγιον "Thrice Holy"), sometimes called by its opening line Agios O Theos or by the Latin Tersanctus, is a standard hymn of the Divine Liturgy in most of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches and Catholic Churches.

In those Churches which use the Byzantine Rite, the Trisagion is chanted immediately before the Prokeimenon and the Epistle Reading. It is also included in a set of prayers named for it, called the Trisagion Prayers, which forms part of numerous services (the Hours, Vespers, Matins, and as part of the opening prayers for most services).

The Trisagion prayer is an ancient prayer in Christianity. It may be that the prayer was originally an expansion of the angelic cry recorded in Revelation 4:8 (sometimes called the Sanctus).

The Greek phrase Trisagion translates as "Thrice Holy" - as in this hymn God is described Holy in three different qualities; Agios o Theos, means 'Holy God'.

In Greek:
Ἅγιος ὁ Θεός, Ἅγιος ἰσχυρός, Ἅγιος ἀθάνατος, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς.Agios o Theos, Agios ischyros, Agios athanatos, eleison imas. (Traditional Romanization) 
In Arabic:
Qudduson il-Lah, qudduson il Qawee, qudduson il-Ladhee, la ya-mout ir-hamna. 
In Latin:
Sānctus Deus, Sānctus Fortis, Sānctus Immortālis, miserēre nōbīs. 
In English:
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. 
In Church Slavonic this is:
Свѧты́й Бо́же, Свѧты́й Крѣ́пкїй, Свѧты́й Безсме́ртный, поми́лyй на́съ. Svjatyj Boze, Svjatyj Kripkij, Svjatyj Bezsmertnnyj, pomiluj nas. 
In Classical Armenian:
Սուրբ Աստուած, սուրբ եւ հզօր, սուրբ եւ անմահ, որ հարյար ի մեռելոց, ողորմեա մեզ Sourp Asdvadz, sourp yev h'zor, sourp yev anmah, vor haryar i merelotz, voghormia mez.
In Croatian:
Sveti Bože, Sveti Jaki Bože, Sveti Besmrtni Bože, smiluj nam se. 
In French:
Saint Dieu, Saint Fort, Saint Immortel, aie pitié de nous. 
In German:
Heiliger Gott, heiliger starker, heiliger unsterblicher, erbarme dich unser. 
In Italian:
Santo Dio, Santo forte, Santo immortale, abbi pietà di noi.
Dio santo, Dio forte, Dio immortale, abbi pietà di noi. 
In Polish:
Święty Boże, Święty Mocny, Święty Nieśmiertelny, zmiłuj się nad nami. 
In Romanian:
Sfinte Dumnezeule, Sfinte Tare, Sfinte Fără de Moarte, miluieşte-ne pre noi. 
In Turkish:
Kutsal Tanrı, Kutsal Kudretli, Kutsal Ölümsüz, bize merhamet göster. 
In Finnish:
Pyhä Jumala, Pyhä Väkevä, Pyhä Kuolematon, armahda meitä. 
In Spanish:
Santo Dios, Santo Fuerte, Santo Inmortal, ten piedád de nosotros. 
In Georgian:
წმიდაო ღმერთო, წმიდაო ძლიერო, წმიდაო უკვდავო, შეგვიწყალენ ჩვენ.
Tsmidao Ghmerto, Tsmidao Dzliero, Tsmidao Ukvdavo, shegvitsqalen chven. 
In Low Mari (spoken in Russian Federation):
Святой Юмо, Святой Куатле, Святой Колыдымо, мемнам серлаге.
Svyatoy Yumo, Svyatoy Kolydymo, Svyatoy Kooatle, memnam serlage. 
In Slovak:
Svätý Bože, Svätý Silný, Svätý Nesmrteľný, zmiluj sa nad nami. 
In Belarusian:
Сьвяты Божа, Сьвяты Моцны, Сьвяты Несьмяротны, памілуй нас. (Cyrillic orthography)
Śviaty Boža, Śviaty Mocny, Śviaty Nieśmiarotny, pamiłuj nas. (Latin orthography) 
In Ge'ez (Ethiopic):
Qidus Igziabhér, Qidus Hayal, Qidus Hiyaw, Ze'iyimewut, Tesehalene Egzi'o. 
In Amharic (Ethiopia):
Qidus Igziabhér, Qidus Hayal, Qidus Hiyaw, Yemaymot, Abétu Yiqir Belen. 
In Syriac: Qadeeshat aloho, qadeeshat hayelthono, qadeeshat lo moyoutho, deslebt hlofayn ethraham layn. 
In Arabic:
قدوس الله، قدوس القوي، قدوس الذي لا يموت ارحمنا
Quddûsun Allâh! Quddûsun al-qawî! Quddûsun al-ladhî lâ yamût urhamnâ. 
In Hebrew:
אל הקדוש, סגיב הקודש,אלמותי הקודש, ירחם עלינו
El Ha-Kadosh! Sagiv Ha-Kadosh! Almoti Ha-Kadosh, rakhem aleynu. 
In Chinese:
至聖之上帝,至聖及大能之上帝,至聖及永生之上帝,憐憫我們。 (Traditional)
至圣之上帝,至圣及大能之上帝,至圣及永生之上帝,怜悯我们。 (Simplified)
Zhì shèng zhī Shàngdì, zhì shèng jí dà néng zhī Shàngdì, zhì shèng jí yǒngshēng zhī Shàngdì, liánmǐn wǒmen. (Pinyin) 
In Filipino:
Banál na Diyós, Banál na Puspós ng Kapángyarihan, Banál na Waláng Hanggán, maawâ po Kayò sa amin. 
In Korean:
거룩한 하느님이시여, 거룩하고 전능하신 이여, 거룩하고 영원하신 이여, 우리를 불쌍히 여기소서.
Georukhan Haneunimisiyeo, Georukhago Jeonneunghasin Iyeo, Georukhago Yeongwonhasin Iyeo, urireul bulssanghi yeogisoseo. 
In Japanese:
聖なる神, 聖なる勇毅, 聖なる常生の者や、我等を憐れめよ。
Seinaru Kami, Seinaru Yūki, Seinaru Jōseinomonoya, Warerao Awaremeyo. 
In Malayalam:
Deivame nee parisudhanaakunnu, Belavanne nee parisudhanaakunnu, Maranamillathavane nee parisudhannakunnu, Njangalku vendi (Making the sign of the cross) Krushikkapettavane Njangale anugrahikkaname
The hymn is of great antiquity, and perhaps much older than the event assigned by the Greek Menology as connected to its origin. The tradition recounts that during the reign of Theodosius II (408-450), Constantinople was shaken by a violent earthquake, 24 September, and that whilst the people, the emperor and the Patriarch Proclus of Constantinople (434-446) were praying for heavenly assistance, a child was suddenly lifted into midair, to whom all cried out Kyrie eleison ('Lord, have mercy'). The child was then seen to descend again to the earth, and in a loud voice he exhorted the people to pray : 'Holy God, Holy and Strong, Holy and Immortal'. After giving this exhortation, the child died.

The fact that the hymn was one of the exclamations of the fathers at the Council of Chalcedon (451), and that it is common not only to all the Greek Oriental liturgies, but was used also in the Gallican Liturgy (see Saint Germain of Paris, d. 576), suggests that the hymn is extremely ancient, perhaps of apostolic-era origin.

The Coptic Orthodox Church believes that the Trisagion originated from Nicodemus. While taking the body of Christ off the cross with Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus saw Jesus Christ's eyes open and then shouted "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal". Traditionally, it is also considered proof that his Divinty did not part from his humanity.

Interestingly, the Gallican Liturgy refers to it as being sung both in Greek and in Latin: Incipiente præsule ecclesia Ajus [that is, Agios] psallit, dicens latinum cum græco, as also previously in Greek alone, before the Prophetia. Benedict XIV thought that the Greek formula was joined with the Latin in allusion to the divine voice heard at Constantinople. But the explanation seems hardly necessary, in view of the retention of Kyrie eleison in the Roman Liturgy, as well as such Hebrew words as Amen, Alleluia, Hosanna, Sabaoth. It is true that the Kyrie eleison is not joined to a Latin version; on the other hand, it is so simple and occurs so frequently, that its meaning could easily be learned and remembered - whereas the entire Trisagion might well receive a parallel version into Latin.

When the Trisagion is sung during the Divine Liturgy of the Byzantine Rite, before the Prokeimenon of the Gospel that precedes the Epistle reading, it is normally sung three times to one of many melodies composed for it. This is followed by singing Glory... Now..., the second half of the Trisagion once, and finally the whole Trisagion a fourth time:
Holy God, Holy [and] Mighty, Holy [and] Immortal, Have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy [and] Mighty, Holy [and] Immortal, Have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy [and] Mighty, Holy [and] Immortal, Have mercy on us.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Holy [and] Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy [and] Mighty, Holy [and] Immortal, Have mercy on us.
On the other hand, in the usage of the other, non-Byzantine Eastern Churches, the Trisagion is simply sung thrice, with no Glory... Now....

In the West Syrian Rite, used by the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Syrian Catholic Church, Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and in a hybrid form, the Maronite Church and other derived rites of Syriac Christianity, the Trisagion is sung towards the beginning of the Holy Qurbana (Divine Liturgy), after the Old Testament Readings and the Introductory Hymn.

In the Armenian Rite, used by the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church, the Trisagion occurs early in the Divine Liturgy, coming after the Monogenes Hymn and the Midday Hymn & Psalm.

The Trisagion also has a similar place in the liturgies of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Eritrean Orthodox Church, as well as the Coptic Catholic Church and Ethiopic Catholic Church.

During most services of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Trisagion is combined with several other prayers to form a unit, often called simply The Trisagion Prayers. This set of prayers forms part of the opening prayers of most services, and is also located within many of the Hours and daily cycle of services.

The full unit known as the Trisagion Prayers normally looks like this:
Holy God, Holy [and] Mighty, Holy [and] Immortal, have mercy on us. (three times)
Glory... Both now...
All-holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, cleanse us from our sins. Master, pardon our iniquities. Holy God, visit and heal us for thy Name's sake.
Lord, have mercy. (three times)
Glory... Both now...
Our Father...
While it is possible that the Trisagion has origins in the Biblical 'thrice holy' of Isaiah 6:3 (the Sanctus: Holy, holy, holy, Lord of Sabaoth. Heaven and earth are full of your glory', etc.), they are today separate prayers. The latter is used at a different point in the Liturgy (in the Divine Liturgy, during the anaphora).

The trisagion is also sung at the entry of the coffin into the church at a funeral and when the coffin is carried to the grave. It is also sung at the conclusion of the Great Doxology.

In the Latin Church, the main regular use of the Trisagion is on Good Friday, when it is sung throughout the ceremony of the Adoration of the Cross. In the Sistine Chapel, the traditional setting was the polyphonic musical setting of Palestrina. During this service, the hymn is sung by two choirs, alternately in Greek and Latin, originally two antiphonal Greek and Latin choirs, as follows:
Greek (First) Choir: Agios o Theos. (Holy God)
Latin (Second) Choir: Sanctus Deus.
Greek (First) Choir: Agios ischyros. (Holy Mighty)
Latin (Second) Choir: Sanctus fortis.
Greek (First) Choir: Agios athanatos, eleison imas. (Holy Immortal, have mercy on us)
Latin (Second) Choir: Sanctus immortalis, miserere nobis.
The hymn is sung in this manner thrice, responding to the first three of twelve reproaches.

In the Latin Church, the Trisagion is also employed in the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin. There is also a Chaplet to the Holy Trinity used by the Order of the Most Holy Trinity called 'The Trisagion' or the 'Angelic Trisagion', which makes use of both forms of the Trisagion. It is also used in the hour of Prime, in the ferial Preces, on ferias of Advent and Lent and on common Vigils.

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05 June 2011

God the Holy Trinity

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity, one of the most important in mainstream Christian faith, teaches the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons (Greek hypostases), in One Divine Being (Greek: Ousia), called the Godhead (from Old English Godhǣd, "God-hood"), the Divine Essence of God.

God exists as three persons but is one God, meaning that God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have exactly the same nature or being as God the Father in every way. Whatever attributes and power God the Father has, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have as well. "Thus, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are also eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinitely wise, infinitely holy, infinitely loving, omniscient."
Trinitarianism contrasts with heretical Nontrinitarian positions which include Binitarianism (one deity/two persons), Unitarianism (one deity/one person), the Oneness or Modalism belief, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' view of the Godhead as three separate beings who are one in purpose rather than essence.

The English word Trinity is derived from Latin Trinitas, meaning "the number three, a triad". This abstract noun is formed from the adjective trinus (three each, threefold, triple), as the word unitas is the abstract noun formed from unus (one). The corresponding word in Greek is Τριάς, meaning "a set of three" or "the number three".

In 325, the First Council of Nicaea defined the long-believed doctrine of the Trinity as orthodoxy and adopted the Nicene Creed, which described Christ as "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance (homoousios) with the Father".

Each person is understood as having the same identical essence or nature, not merely similar natures. The being of Christ can be said to have dominated theological discussions and councils of the church through the 7th century, and resulted in the Nicene and Constantinopolitan creeds, the Ephesine Formula of 431 AD, and the Christological statement of the Epistola Dogmatica of Leo I to Flavianus. From these councils, the following christological doctrines were condemned as heresies: Ebionism, Docetism, Basilidianism, Alogism or Artemonism, Patripassianism, Sabellianism, Arianism, Apollinarianism, Nestorianism, Eutychianism, Monophysitism, and Monothelitism. Since the beginning of the third century the doctrine of the Trinity has been stated as "the one God exists in three Persons and one substance, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Trinitarianism, belief in the Trinity, is a mark of Roman Catholicism, Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy as well as of the "mainstream traditions" arising from the Protestant Reformation, such as Anglicanism, Baptist, Methodism, Lutheranism and Presbyterianism. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church describes the Trinity as "the central dogma of Christian theology".

The Old Testament foreshadows the Trinity, by referring to God's word,[Ps 33:6] his spirit,[Isa 61:1] and Wisdom,[Prov 9:1] as well as narratives such as the appearance of the three men (angels) to Abraham.[Gen 18]

Some Church Fathers believed that a knowledge of the mystery was granted to the prophets and saints of the "Old Dispensation", and that they identified the divine messenger of Genesis 16:7, 21:17, 31:11, Exodus 3:2 and Wisdom of the sapiential books with the Son, and "the spirit of the Lord" with the Holy Spirit. Other Church Fathers, such as Gregory Nazianzen, argued in his Orations that the revelation was gradual:
The Old Testament proclaimed the Father openly, and the Son more obscurely. The New manifested the Son, and suggested the deity of the Spirit. Now the Spirit himself dwells among us, and supplies us with a clearer demonstration of himself. For it was not safe, when the Godhead of the Father was not yet acknowledged, plainly to proclaim the Son; nor when that of the Son was not yet received to burden us further.
Southern Baptist theologian Frank Stagg emphasizes that the New Testament does repeatedly speak of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to "compel a trinitarian understanding of God."
A few verses directly reference the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the same time:
"As soon as Jesus Christ was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and landing on him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'"[Mt 3:16–17] [Mk 1:10–11] [Luke 3:22] [John 1:32]
"The angel answered and said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.'"[Luke 1:35]
"How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!"[Heb 9:14]
"But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God." [Acts 7:55]
This passage contains many complex formulations of the relationship between God, Christ, and Spirit, including "the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead,"[Rom 8:11] "all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God,"[8:14-17] and "the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."[8:26-27]
Some even reference these as part of a single formula:
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"[Mt 28:19]. All extant manuscripts of the Gospel of Matthew unanimously contain the trinitarian baptismal formula without variation at 28:19.
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you."[2 Cor. 13:14]
The Gospel of John has been seen as aimed at emphasizing Jesus' divinity, presenting Jesus as the Logos, pre-existent and divine, from its first words, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."[John 1:1] John also portrays Jesus as the creator of the universe, such that "without him was not any thing made that was made."[John 1:3]
The Gospel of John ends with Thomas' apparent confession of faith to Jesus, "My Lord and my God!"[John 20:28] There is no significant tendency among modern scholars to deny that John 1:1 and John 20:28 identify Jesus with God.

Other passages of John's Gospel include, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.",[8:58] "I and the Father are one.",[10:30] "....the Father is in me and I am in the Father.",[10:38] and "....he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God."[John 5:18] John is also seen to identify Jesus as the Lord whom Isaiah saw,[John 12:34-45][Isa 6:1-10] while other texts[Heb 1:1-12] are also understood as referring to Jesus as God.

There are also biblical supports for the Trinity found in the Synoptic Gospels. The Gospel of Matthew, for example, quotes Jesus as saying "all things have been handed over to me by my Father".[Mt 11:27] This is similar to John, who wrote that Jesus said "All that the Father has is mine".[John 16:15] These verses have been quoted to defend the omnipotence of Christ, having all power, as well as the omniscience of Christ, having all wisdom.

Expressions also in the Pauline epistles attribute divinity to Jesus. They include: "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him"[Colossians 1:16] and "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form",[Colossians 2:9] and in Paul the Apostle's claim to have been "sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father".[Galatians 1:1]

In Daniel 7 the prophet records his vision of "one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven", who "was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him" (v. 14). Christians believe that worship is only properly given to God, and that considering other Bible passages this "son of man" can be identified as the second person of the Trinity. Parallels may be drawn between Daniel's vision and Jesus' words to the Jewish high priest that in the future those assembled would see "the son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."[Mt 26:64-65] Jesus was immediately accused of blasphemy, as at other times when he had identified his unity with the Father.[John 10:33] Christians also believe that John saw the resurrected, gloried Jesus and described him as "One like the Son of Man."[Rev 1:13]

The Trinity was also introduced in the Old Testament book of Isaiah written around 700 years before Jesus, copies of which were preserved from 300 years before Jesus in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Isaiah 9:6 prophesies "For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Thus a son who will be born at a particular point in history who is called "Mighty God". Jesus is the second person in the Trinity, and he is called "Everlasting Father" because of his role as Creator of men and because he is God.

Another biblical demonstration of the deity of Jesus comes from the biblical scholar Granville Sharp who noted the construction of a particular Greek idiom, which is now called Granville Sharp's rule. According to the rule, when two nouns that are personal, singular, and not proper names are connected in a TSKS pattern (The—Substantive—Kai—Substantive, where 'kai' is Greek for 'and') then the two nouns refer to the same person. Passages like Titus 2:13 and 2Peter 1:1 fit this pattern. Therefore, when Paul says:[Titus 2:13] "The great God and savior, Jesus Christ" he is grammatically identifying Jesus Christ as the great God. Proper nouns are not used in this phrase. In his review of over 1,000 years of Greek literature, Christopher Wordsworth confirmed that early church Fathers had this same understanding of the text.

Jesus did know all things, such as "He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.""[John 21:17]

As the Arian controversy was dwindling down, the debate moved from the deity of Jesus Christ to the equality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and Son.

Although the main text used in defense of the deity of the Holy Spirit was Matthew 28:19, Cappadocian Fathers such as Basil the Great argued from other verses such as "But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."[Acts 5:3-4]

Another passagethe Cappadocian Fathers quoted from was "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host."[Psalm 33:6] According to their understanding, because "breath" and "spirit" in Hebrew are both "רוּחַ" ("ruach"), Psalm 33:6 is revealing the roles of the Son and Holy Spirit as co-creators. And since, according to them, because the holy God can only create holy beings such as the angels, the Son and Holy Spirit must be God.

Yet another argument from the Cappadocian Fathers to prove that the Holy Spirit is of the same nature as the Father and Son comes from "For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."[1Cor. 2:11] They reasoned that this passage proves that the Holy Spirit has the same relationship to God as the spirit within us has to us.

The Cappadocian Fathers also quoted "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?"[1Cor. 3:16] and reasoned that it would be blasphemous for an inferior being to take up residence in a temple of God, thus proving that the Holy Spirit is equal with the Father and the Son.

They also combined "the servant does not know what his master is doing"[John 15:15] with 1 Corinthians 2:11 in an attempt to show that the Holy Spirit is not the slave of God, and therefore his equal.

The Holy Spirit is greater than the angels, since the Holy Spirit is the one who grants the foreknowledge for prophesy[1Cor. 12:8-10] so that the angels could announce events to come.

Genesis 18–19 have been shown by Christians as a Trinitarian text. The narrative has the Lord appearing to Abraham, who was visited by three men.[Gen 18:1-2] Then in Genesis 19, "the two angels" visited Lot at Sodom. The interplay between Abraham on the one hand, and the Lord/three men/the two angels on the other was an intriguing text for those who believed in a single God in three persons.

Augustine, held that the three visitors to Abraham were the three persons of the Trinity. He saw no indication that the visitors were unequal. Then in Genesis 19, two of the visitors were addressed by Lot in the singular: "Lot said to them, 'Not so, my lord.'"[Gen 19:18 KJV] Augustine saw that Lot could address them as one because they had a single substance, despite the plurality of persons. Some Christians see indications in the Old Testament of a plurality and unity in God.

  • Genesis 12:7 and Genesis 18:1—God appeared to Abraham
  • Genesis 26:2 and Genesis 26:24—God appeared to Isaac
  • Genesis 35:1, Genesis 35:9 and Genesis 48:3—God appeared to Jacob
  • Exodus 3:16 and Exodus 4:5—God appeared to Moses
  • Exodus 6:3—God appeared to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob
  • Leviticus 9:4 and Leviticus 6:2—God appeared to Aaron
  • Deuteronomy 31:15—God appeared to Moses and Joshua
  • 1 Samuel 3:21—God appeared to Samuel
  • 1 Kings 3:5, 1 Kings 9:2 and 1 Kings 11:9—God appeared to Solomon
  • 2 Chronicles 1—God appeared to David
  • 2 Chronicles 7:12—God appeared to Solomon
The angel (messenger) of the Lord:
  • Genesis 16:7–14
  • Genesis 22:9–14
  • Exodus 3:2
  • Exodus 23:20,21
  • Numbers 22:21–35
  • Judges 2:1–5
  • Judges 6:11–22
  • Judges 13:3
References in the Deuterocanonical booksIn Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch, the personifications of wisdom have been seen in the Christian traditions as prefigures for Christ. The most explicit reference to the Trinity is in Wisdom of Solomon:
Who has learned your counsel, unless you have given wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high? And thus the paths of those on earth were set right, and people were taught what pleases you, and were saved by wisdom
—Wisdom of Solomon 9:17-18
The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost share the one essence, substance or being. The central and crucial affirmation of Christian faith is that there is one savior, God, and one salvation, manifest in Jesus Christ, to which there is access only because of the Holy Spirit. The God of the Old Testament is still the same as the God of the New. In Christianity, statements about a solitary God are intended to distinguish the Hebraic understanding from the polytheistic view, which see divine power as shared by several beings, beings which can and do disagree and have conflicts with each other.

God exists as three persons, or hypostases, but is one being, that is, has but a single divine nature. Chalcedonians—Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Protestants—hold that, in addition, the second person of the Trinity—God the Son, Jesus—assumed human nature, so that he has two natures (and hence two wills), and is really and fully both true God and true human.

The members of the Trinity are said to be co-equal and co-eternal, one in essence, nature, power, action, and will. As stated in the Athanasian Creed, the Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated, and all three are eternal with no beginning. The Roman Catholic Church currently teaches that, in the sense of the Latin verb procedere (which does not have to indicate ultimate origin and is therefore compatible with proceeding through), but not in that of the Greek verb ἐκπορεύεσθαι (which implies ultimate origin), the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father and the Son (Filioque), and the Eastern Orthodox Church still teaches the original belief that the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father alone, has made no statement on the claim of a difference in meaning between the two words, one Greek and one Latin, both of which are translated as "proceeds". There is no dispute on the statement in the Nicene Creed that the Holy Spirit is worshipped together with the Father and the Son.

It has been stated that because three persons exist in God as one unity, "The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" are not three different names for different parts of God but one name for God, because the Father can not be divided from the Son or the Holy Spirit from the Son. God has always loved, and there has always existed perfectly harmonious communion between the three persons of the Trinity. One consequence of this teaching is that God could not have created man to have someone to talk to or to love: God "already" enjoyed personal communion; being perfect, he did not create man because of a lack or inadequacy he had.

Another consequence, according to Rev. Fr. Thomas Hopko, an Eastern Orthodox theologian, is that if God were not a Trinity, he could not have loved prior to creating other beings on whom to bestow his love. Thus God says, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."[Gen 1:26-27] For Trinitarians, emphasis in Genesis 1:26 is on the plurality in the Deity, and in 1:27 on the unity of the divine Essence. A possible interpretation of Genesis 1:26 is that God's relationships in the Trinity are mirrored in man by the ideal relationship between husband and wife, two persons becoming one flesh, as described in Eve's creation later in the next chapter.

A useful explanation of the relationship of the distinct divine persons is called "perichoresis", from Greek going around, envelopment. This concept refers for its basis to John 14–17, where Jesus is instructing the disciples concerning the meaning of his departure. His going to the Father, he says, is for their sake; so that he might come to them when the "other comforter" is given to them. Then, he says, his disciples will dwell in him, as he dwells in the Father, and the Father dwells in him, and the Father will dwell in them. This is so, according to the theory of perichoresis, because the persons of the Trinity "reciprocally contain one another, so that one permanently envelopes and is permanently enveloped by, the other whom he yet envelopes". (Hilary of Poitiers, Concerning the Trinity 3:1).

This co-indwelling may also be helpful in illustrating the Trinitarian conception of salvation. The first doctrinal benefit is that it effectively excludes the idea that God has parts. Trinitarians assert that God is a simple, not an aggregate, being. The second doctrinal benefit is that it harmonizes well with the doctrine that the Christian's union with the Son in his humanity brings him into union with one who contains in himself, in St. Paul's words, "all the fullness of deity" and not a part. (Theosis). Perichoresis provides an intuitive figure of what this might mean. The Son, the eternal Word, is from all eternity the dwelling place of God; he is the "Father's house", just as the Son dwells in the Father and the Spirit; so that, when the Spirit is "given", then it happens as Jesus said, "I will not leave you as orphans; for I will come to you."[John 14:18]

Some forms of human union are considered to be not identical but analogous to the Trinitarian concept, as found for example in Jesus' words about marriage: "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh."[Mark 10:7–8] According to the words of Jesus, married persons are in some sense no longer two, but joined into one. Therefore, Orthodox theologians also see the marriage relationship as an image, or "icon" of the Trinity, relationships of communion in which, in the words of St. Paul, participants are "members one of another". As with marriage, the unity of the church with Christ is similarly considered in some sense analogous to the unity of the Trinity, following the prayer of Jesus to the Father, for the church, that "they may be one, even as we are one".[John 17:22]

Trinitarianism affirms that the Son is "begotten" (or "generated") of the Father and that the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father, but the Father is "neither begotten nor proceeds". The argument over whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone, or from the Father and the Son, was one of the catalysts of the Great Schism, in this case concerning the Western addition of the Filioque clause to the Nicene Creed.

This language is often considered difficult because, if used regarding humans or other created things, it would imply time and change; when used here, no beginning, change in being, or process within time is intended and is excluded. The Son is generated ("born" or "begotten"), and the Spirit proceeds, eternally. Augustine of Hippo explains, "Thy years are one day, and Thy day is not daily, but today; because Thy today yields not to tomorrow, for neither does it follow yesterday. Thy today is eternity; therefore Thou begat the Co-eternal, to whom Thou saidst, 'This day have I begotten Thee."[Ps 2:7]

Because the Son is begotten, not made, the substance of his person is that of the deity. The creation is brought into being through the Son, but the Son himself is not part of it except through his incarnation.

The church fathers used several analogies to express this thought. St. Irenaeus of Lyons was the final major theologian of the 2nd century. He writes "the Father is God, and the Son is God, for whatever is begotten of God is God."

Extending the analogy, it might be said, similarly, that whatever is generated (procreated) of humans is human. Thus, given that humanity is, in the words of the Bible, "created in the image and likeness of God", an analogy can be drawn between the Divine Essence and human nature, between the Divine Persons and human persons. However, given the fall, this analogy is far from perfect, even though, like the Divine Persons, human persons are characterized by being "loci of relationship". For Trinitarian Christians, this analogy is important with regard to the Church, which St. Paul calls "the body of Christ" and whose members are, because they are "members of Christ", also "members one of another".

However, an attempt to explain the mystery to some extent must break down, and has limited usefulness, being designed, not so much to fully explain the Trinity, but to point to the experience of communion with the Triune God within the Church as the Body of Christ. The difference between those who believe in the Trinity and those who do not, is not an issue of understanding the mystery. The difference is primarily one of belief concerning the personal identity of Christ. It is a difference in conception of the salvation connected with Christ that drives all reactions, either favorable or unfavorable, to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. As it is, the doctrine of the Trinity is directly tied up with Christology.

Eastern Christianity, for its part, correlates ecclesiology and Trinitarian doctrine, and seeks to understand the doctrine of the Trinity via the experience of the Church, which it understands to be "an icon of the Trinity". Therefore, when St. Paul writes concerning Christians that all are "members one of another", Eastern Christians in turn understand this as also applying to the Divine Persons.

The principal disagreement between Western and Eastern Christianity on the Trinity has been the relationship of the Holy Spirit with the other two hypostases. The original credal formulation of the Council of Constantinople was that the Holy Spirit proceeds "from the Father". While this phrase is still used unaltered both in the Eastern Churches, including the Eastern Catholic Churches, and, when the Nicene Creed is recited in Greek, in the Latin Church, it became customary in some parts of the Latin-speaking Church, beginning with the provincial Third Council of Toledo in 589, to add "and the Son" (Latin Filioque).

Although this insertion into the Creed was explicitly vetoed by Pope Leo III, it was finally used in a Papal Mass by Pope Benedict VIII in 1014, thus completing the heresey's spread throughout Western Christianity. The Eastern Orthodox Churches object to it on ecclesiological and theological grounds, holding that "from the Father" means "from the Father alone". Pope Leo III opposed insertion of the phrase into the Nicene Creed.

The 1978 Anglican Lambeth Conference requested that all member Churches of the Anglican Communion should consider omitting the Filioque from the Nicene Creed, and that the Anglican-Orthodox Joint Doctrinal Commission through the Anglican Consultative Council should assist them in presenting the theological issues to their appropriate synodical bodies and should be responsible for any necessary consultation with other Churches of the Western tradition.

None of the member Churches has implemented this request; but the Church of England, while keeping the phrase in the Creed recited in its own services, presents in its Common Worship series of service books a text of the creed without it for use "on suitable ecumenical occasions".

Most Protestant groups that use the creed also include the errant Filioque clause because their pedagogy comes from the Roman Catholic Church.

Direct representations of the Trinity are much rarer in Eastern Orthodox art of any period—reservations about depicting the Father remain fairly strong, as they were in the West until the high Middle Ages. The Second Council of Nicea in 787 confirmed that the depiction of Christ was allowed because he became man; the situation regarding the Father was less clear. The usual Orthodox representation of the Trinity was through the "Old Testament Trinity" of the three angels visiting Abraham—said in the text to be "the Lord"[Genesis 18:1-15]. The subject long remained sensitive, and the Russian Orthodox Church at the Great Synod of Moscow in 1667 finally forbade depictions of the Father in human form. The canon is quoted in full here because it explains the Russian Orthodox theology on the subject:
Chapter 2, §44: It is most absurd and improper to depict in icons the Lord Sabaoth (that is to say, God the Father) with a grey beard and the Only-Begotten Son in His bosom with a dove between them, because no-one has seen the Father according to His Divinity, and the Father has no flesh, nor was the Son born in the flesh from the Father before the ages. And though David the prophet says, "From the womb before the morning star have I begotten Thee"[Psalm 109:3], that birth was not fleshly, but unspeakable and incomprehensible. For Christ Himself says in the holy Gospel, "No man hath seen the Father, save the Son".cf.[John 6:46] And Isaiah the prophet says in his fortieth chapter: "To whom have ye likened the Lord? and with what likeness have ye made a similitude of Him? Has not the artificier of wood made an image, or the goldsmiths, having melted gold, gilt it over, and made it a similitude?"[Isa 40:18-19] In like manner the Apostle Paul says in Acts[Acts 17:29] "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold or silver or stone, graven by art of man's imagination." And John Damascene says: "But furthermore, who can make a similitude of the invisible, incorporeal, uncircumscribed and undepictable God? It is, then, uttermost insanity and impiety to give a form to the Godhead" (Orthodox Faith, 4:16). In like manner St. Gregory the Dialogist prohibits this. For this reason we should only form an understanding in the mind of Sabaoth, which is the Godhead, and of that birth before the ages of the Only-Begotten-Son from the Father, but we should never, in any wise depict these in icons, for this, indeed, is impossible. And the Holy Spirit is not in essence a dove, but in essence he is God, and "No man hath seen God", as John the Theologian and Evangelist bears witness[John 1:18] and this is so even though, at the Jordan at Christ's holy Baptism the Holy Spirit appeared in the likeness of a dove. For this reason, it is fitting on this occasion only to depict the Holy Spirit in the likeness of a dove. But in any other place those who have intelligence will not depict the Holy Spirit in the likeness of a dove. For on Mount Tabor, He appeared as a cloud and, at another time, in other ways. Furthermore, Sabaoth is the name not only of the Father, but of the Holy Trinity. According to Dionysios the Areopagite, Lord Sabaoth, translated from the Jewish tongue, means "Lord of Hosts". This Lord of Hosts is the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And although Daniel the prophet says that he beheld the Ancient of Days sitting on a throne, this should not be understood to refer to the Father, but to the Son, Who at His second coming will judge every nation at the dreadful Judgment.
The Coptic Orthodox Church never depicts God the Father in art although he may be identified by an area of brightness within art such as the heavenly glow at the top of some icons of the baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Syrian, Armenian, Indian and British Orthodox Churches appear to follow the same practice.

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