03 December 2009

Quo Vadis, Logismoi?

I am pleased to announce, dear readers, that today marks the one-year anniversary of Logismoi (see my inaugural post here). I bring this up, not to toot my own horn, but primarily because it raises a slight problem that has concerned me from time to time over the course of the year. Because so many of my posts concern Saints and Feasts celebrated on a given day, and because so many of those are determined not only by importance but also by my access to resources interesting enough to my mind to warrant a post, I am somewhat at a loss as to how to proceed as those days begin to occur again.

Tomorrow, for instance, is the Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple as well as of St Columbanus. Ordinarily I would post about one or both of these, but unfortunately I have already done so (see here and here)! So do I simply repost the original posts, go to the trouble of finding new material (even though I have often used up all of my best stuff the first time round) and maybe include a link to the original post, post on another Saint on that day (often a difficult prospect—I don’t wish simply to copy and paste the Prologue or, worse, the OCA ‘Saint’s Life’ for the day!), or post on something else, ignoring what is often in fact a very important commemoration for the day? If I take the last option, I may find myself posting a good deal less often since I may be hard-pressed to come up with suitable non-hagiographical material every day. If I take the first, it seems like long-time readers are getting cheated.

Well, I welcome, nay, plead for, suggestions. Your two cents may well determine much of the future direction of Logismoi!

In the meantime, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge a blog that I will likely be making much greater use of in the future, and really, that I should not have neglected to make use of before now: the lovely ‘Under the Oak’, a blog ‘dedicated to the saints of Ireland, especially to our national patroness, Saint Brigid of Kildare’ (also the patroness of my lovely wife!). If I’m not careful, I may wind up simply reposting Brigit’s wonderful material as a solution to my anniversary problem mentioned above. Only the forgetfulness arising during a thirteen-day calendar difference can account for my forgetting to link to her material on St Martin of Tours, here, here, and here (Brigit appears to be on the Old Calendar, but for some reason is posting about the Saints on their New Calendar days—perhaps anticipating a largely RC audience?). I have no such excuse for neglecting—in my own Advent post—her posts here and here on the Advent Fast in the Irish Church.

As a sampling of her delightful wares, here is the third of Brigit’s posts on St Martin:

Professor Michael Lapidge has published the text of a hymn to Saint Martin, which although it has been preserved in a collection of materials called the pseudo-Bede Collectaneum published in Basle in 1543, is felt by Lapidge to be of Irish provenance. The prayer to Saint Martin is one of a group of six which have identifiable links with early insular prayerbooks, but scholars have long felt that many of the prayers in Anglo-Saxon prayerbooks derive from Irish sources. Lapidge argues that this prayer to St Martin has obviously originated outside France since it calls for protection against shipwreck for visiting pilgrims, and since early England does not have a literary tradition of veneration of Saint Martin, Ireland is the most likely point of origin. The author goes on to argue for a seventh-century date, based on linguistic analysis and comparisons with other Irish hymns of that period. Lapidge's paper gives only the Latin text, but below is a translation by David Howlett, with some accompanying notes.

Deus Domine Meus 'A New Hiberno-Latin Hymn on Saint Martin'

1. God, my Lord, I am the one responsible for Your death: be patient now with me, who are strong and powerful.
2. I adjure the true God, always one and triune, that I may have power now to go to Saint Martin.
3. I ask now the King of Kings, Who is divine light, that I may be able now, just to visit Saint Martin.
4. Christ, God of gods, Whose majesty is wondrous, make me to lament, healed, before Saint Martin.
5. Direct the way clearly, O Nazarene Jesu, so that I may be able excellently to bewail sins there.
6. For me an aid through shipwreck will be the support of Christ's soldier Martin.
7. I wish to visit you; make me come to you, who are of such great virtue, O my Saint Martin.
8. O my Saint Martin, intercede now, I beg, for me, grieving ill, burdened by the disgrace of sins.
9. O my Saint Martin, for me now intercede, lest the wisps of flame of perennial punishment touch me.
10. O my Saint Martin, beloved of the throng of the heavens, lest I be a sharer of punishment help me.
11. O my Saint Martin, help me that I may enjoy at the end the perennial bread of life.
12. Glory to You, Father, Who are Brother and Mother.


The first 5 stanzas are addressed to God. The central sixth stanza describes the aid of Saint Martin against shipwreck on the journey from the poet's home, presumably in Ireland, and the shrine of Saint Martin, presumably at Tours. The last 5 stanzas are addressed to Saint Martin. The doxology is addressed to God. The most appropriate occasions for recitation of this hymn might be the two principal feasts of Saint Martin, 4 July and 11 November.

David Howlett,
The Celtic Latin Tradition of Biblical Style, (Dublin, 1995), 183-186.


orrologion said...

Should you not have anything new to say on a repeated feast, I would greatly welcome posts on lesser feasts and/or saints outranked on a given day or posts for feasts/saints celebrated by your coreligionists on the New Calendar (horror of horrors?). Of course, I have not doubt of your ability to plumb the depths of major Feasts such as those of the Master and His Mother, but I can see how useful material might become scarce for saints with little pertinent material surviving from them or others (e.g., many an ante-Nicene martyr).

Of course, one could also begin a series on the lesser known services and texts of the Church often missed by those without access to a monastic cycle of services. For instance, you could begin a series on the weekday Octoechos, the Midnight Office, the Inter-Hours, the Panagia service, etc. Rubrics may also be quite helpful, especially the differences between local Orthodox traditions - your vantage betwixt and between the Russian and Greek churches would be helpful here, and such posts would allow you the opportunity to explore and share traditions from other corners of Orthodoxy.

I also have a feeling you could share a lot regarding monasteries and other historic places in the Church of Greece and ROCOR.

Gabriel said...

I think Christopher hit everything on the head. I think you could easily find new materials for major feasts each year, but each day there are far more Saints in the Synaxarion than there are accessible lives, menaion services, and/or compiled information. There are also those ocassional divergences between the Slavic and Greek calendars which could give you some more material to cover each day.

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

In addition to all of the above, you could write more often of your research. That's some interesting stuff.

Austin said...

How about concentrating on New Martyrs and Confessors? Or perhaps a daily "Negative Icon," someone who had the power for good but chose evil, infamous bishops and others who had a lasting negative impact on the Church?

David.R said...

What about choosing a subject or theme and try to see the rest in the light of this chosen subject? For example, I have chosen for my blog the theme of the purification of the heart and the heart itself as the seat of personhood. I am trying to revisit lives of saints, books, authors, monastic literature, church fathers, ancient Israel, etc in the light of the subject of the heart.
Reading new books and rereading old ones in this light is proving to be quite surprising at times :-)

Anonymous said...

I don't have any suggestions to offer that differ from what's already been proposed. But, I wanted to thank you for pointing us to the blog, Under the Oak. It's wonderful! My husband is part Irish and we named our son Declan; I love to read about Irish saints!


Anonymous said...

I don't have any suggestions to offer that differ from what's already been proposed. But, I wanted to thank you for pointing us to the blog, Under the Oak. It's wonderful! My husband is part Irish and we named our son Declan; I love to read about Irish saints!


Brigit said...

Thank you very much, Aaron, for your appreciation of Under the Oak. I am going to be faced with the same problem as you before long! When I started I initially posted on the Old Calendar dates (I'm ROCOR too!), but switched to the civil to accommodate western and New Calendar Orthodox readers. I also thought that it might help me to have the materials posted in advance so that when the feasts came around on the Church calendar I could relax and enjoy them myself rather than being in a panic about posting deadlines. Blogging is harder work than I bargained for and I wasn't able to sustain daily posts. But I might return to posting on the Old Calendar as that reflects my own practice and a blog is a personal thing after all.

Greetings from Ireland to you and your wife, and blessings of today's feasts,


The Ochlophobist said...

If you stop blogging you will be shunned by the Orthodox blogging community until you repent of such nonsense.

To leave your readingship hanging, especially with Ora et Labora down, would be an act of blogging terrorism, a crime against that humanity given to staring at pixels.

All of the ideas above are good ones.

One more - you get around the country now and again and visit parishes and people and Orthodox "works" that a number of us admire (say Fr. Luke and Uncut Mountain). You could do some more posts relating some of those experiances. You could also do some interviews with folks like Fr. Luke, or Fr. Christopher in House Springs, or even Herman (any interview with Herman would make for a fascinating post).

Cyril said...

The most edifying segment of Orthodox blogs in your vein is exposure to wisdom and anecdotal scenarios from the saints. Wisdom which stems from the illumination of Holy Spirit and humility and self-less love which result from askesis are the most powerful residuals of the Saints. Surely these things cannot be exhausted in a single blog! Your blogs may become shorter...but they will be no less edifying and stimulating. Just my biased opinion of what is wheat and chaff in Orthodox blogs. Also you could update the bibliographical information on saints each year.


Brother Charles said...

Congratulations on the first anniversary of this ministry!

aaronandbrighid said...

Thank you all for your suggestions! I'll be writing a response as soon as I have time to breathe.

By the way, please pray that I'll manage to get my laptop either fixed or replaced at an affordable price. It's really hard to do this without it!

aaronandbrighid said...

Well, first of all, to allay Owen’s fears, I have no intention of retiring the blog. It’s too much fun—indeed, it’s well nigh the perfect outlet for me. All I’m talking about is the possibility of a change in emphasis, a change that may be necessitated by the repetition of the liturgical year coupled with the limited nature of the resources available to me at the moment.

Of course, there are other limits as well: my particular interests, my desire to avoid merely reproducing material easily available elsewhere, and my sense of obligation to cover a diversity of topics (not just explicitly religious ones). With rare exceptions (this one, and this spring to mind), I prefer to try to keep this blog fairly ‘bookish’, in the sense that I write about books frequently, I try to favour printed sources over online ones or other media (sometimes even giving up on a topic if I find this too difficult), I often favour the ‘books and learning’ angle when blogging even about Saints, and I don’t really blog about my life or about ‘current events’. Similarly, I also prefer to focus on the past as much as possible, seeing part of my mission as the preservation of ‘the memory of all that had been fair’.

Keeping all of that in mind, the suggestion to work in more on the Church’s liturgical texts, first made by Christopher and seconded by a few others, may wind up being followed to some extent (see already this post), though I fear becoming too ‘spiritual’ by that route, since more theological creativity—and therefore hubris—would seem to be called for (Esteban will understand me here, if no one else does!).


aaronandbrighid said...

The suggestions for blogs about other Saints (early Martyrs, New Martyrs), while good ones in many ways, may require me investing in or trying to talk some Orthodox publishers into sending further sources. For instance, I could really use Vaporis’s book on the Turkish Yoke Martyrs, the St Herman Press book on the New Confessors of Russia, or the Kiev Patericon from the Harvard Ukrainian series. Even then, there is the problem that I don’t merely want to summarise one particular account of a life, sprinkling my overview with a few good quoted passages—ideally I want to be able to contextualize such things with other commentors, with literary references (especially poetry), etc.

David Roble’s suggestion may be especially useful if put to limited use here, since focusing on a theme seems to offer greater possibilities for diverse sources and cultural references. The ‘people and places’ idea mentioned by Owen and Christopher seemed a bit too biographical and ‘current eventsy’ to me on first consideration, but perhaps I can work in a ‘books and learning’ and/or ‘memory of all that had been fair’ angle that would make such posts more Logismoic. I quite like Austin’s ‘Profiles of Evil’ idea (though I’m not sure where to begin), and I have long intended to do some more stuff along the lines of Kevin’s suggestion (which came into play at least once, here).

As for Cyril’s comment, ‘wisdom and anecdotal scenarios from the saints’ of course have been and will continue to be a big part of Logismoi. But while several blogs which I value offer these in a quite ‘unadorned’ fashion, in my own blogging I prefer such things to have a real context. I want the Saints’ words and stories to be clearly connected to other things, the more motley the better, and always fitting somehow into the particular themes and concerns with which Logismoi is concerned.

Finally, I thank Charles for his hearty congratulations, however, I do wish consciously to avoid the mindset that my blog is somehow a ‘ministry’. I often find people become too self-important or blow their undertakings out of proportion if they adopt this mindset. If Logismoi manages to ‘minister’ to readers, then that’s great. But for me it’s precisely my ‘thoughts’ and even ‘temptations’. It’s a productive thing to do with stuff I come across. It’s a place to organize materials that I find interesting or valuable. It’s much more selfish than a ‘ministry’ ought to be, I think.

Probably I shall try to ‘play it by ear’ in solving the problem I’ve raised, incorporating these suggestions as they seem to work or to be convenient and not committing to any one of them in particular. You can see my initial attempts here and here. Please let me know what you think!

Fr. Peter Alban Heers said...


I would welcome your comments on aspect of the Faith that are under attack or being confused by the Orthodox themselves, as surely your thoughts - based on the very lives of the Saints you've been reading and sharing - will be helpful to your readers. Sure, you are not a shepherd of souls (yet), but as a brother to another brother your comments could be helpful. The treasure of the Church must not be stored up only for admiration but also for trading in truth to the upbuilding of the Church.

Fr. Peter

aaronandbrighid said...

Fr Peter> Thank you for your suggestion. I'm not averse to the sort of posts you're describing, but I do want to find the proper 'Logismoic' way to do it (i.e., in keeping with the ethos of this blog)! Actually, if one digs around a little bit, one may find one or two posts where I DO touch on such matters in a basically Logismoic way. Did you happen to see my posts on the passage of the soul after death? I thought you might appreciate those! There's also my little sermon on the proper treatment of the Saints and Holy Fathers. Anyway, I will take your advice by keeping my eyes peeled for appropriate opportunities to comment more frequently on such issues.