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Beard to Beard

St. John CassianThis article was first published in The Onion Dome on March 11, 2005.

AR: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Beard to Beard: the Orthodox religious debate and discussion program here on Anaxios TV. I am your host, Reader Alexis Riggle, and with me is my co-moderator, Father Vasiliy Vasileivich of the Church Overseas of Russian Orthodox Christians (COROC).
VV: Is pleasure to being here.   
AR: Tonight our guests are Father Iulian Kalendarov, professor of Calendaristics at Almondville Orthodox Seminary, Almondville, New York.
IK: Khello.
AR: And Father John (“Cassian”) MacDonald, parish priest of St. John Cassian Orthodox Church, of the Hellenic Omophorion Holy Orthodox Synod (HOHOS), in San Diego, California.
JM: Howdy.
VV: Topic of tonight’s discussion is this: during non-Leap-Years, should feast day of St. John Cassian be moved to February 28, or simply not be celebrated at all? Father John, Why do you not start us off?
JM: Thank you, Father. My position is this: St. John is a canonized saint of the Orthodox Church. Every other canonized saint is celebrated at least once annually; some even more often. Why should St. John, out of all the saints of the Church, only be celebrated every four years? Why not move his celebration to February 28? It’s not like there aren’t other days of the year when more than one saint gets celebrated.
     I am a parish priest. My parish earns fully one third of its annual operating budget during our “St. John Days Annual Ethnic Festival” which we celebrate on and around February 28. Should we stop celebrating three out of four years, and have to actually tithe or something, just so we can keep the calendar “pure,” whatever THAT means? It makes no sense.
VV: Thank you, Father John. And now for counter-opinion, we are turning to Father Iulian.
IK: Spacebo, Father Vasiliy. What is Orthodoxy? What makes Holy Orthodox Church what it is: Body of Christ on Earth, and not just some other group of so-to-call-them Christians doing whatever they are thinking Bible is telling them to do? What is to distinguish Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church from Lutherans, or Latins, or some other so-to-call-it church? Is it not Tradition? Is it not Holy Tradition handed down from our Lord Christ and his holy Apostles?
     And what strikes into heart of Holy Tradition most painfully, dealing blows which offend most hard-hearted of cane-weilding babushki? Is changes to calendar! Da!
     Who are we, puny 21st-Century men, to disturb most holy calendar which has stood since earliest days of Holy Church?
     No, better that we not move anything on Calendar, but take it as it is coming to us, holy and inviolate and thirteen days late.
AR: I see. Now before the rebuttals and cross-examination, we pause for a word from our sponsor. Tonight’s broadcast is brought to you by: Buzzy Bee Monastery Candles. Father V?
VV: Friend, what could be more holy or more sacred for your family, leaving aside calendar for moment, than having pure 100% beeswax candles from holy Russian monastery in icon corner? Gospel book says we are light of world. And light of Orthodoxy shines brightest in holy monasteries. Humble monks from all over central northwestern Russia work hard as bees―Who is writing this stuff? What silliness! Is sounding like commercial for floor wax, not message from holy Orthodox monks. Is outrage!
AR: Nevertheless, they pay the bills, so whatever words they ask us to read, we will just have to read, Father. Please.
VV: Oy yoy yoy. Where was I? Ah, here. Humble monks from all over central northwestern Russia work hard as bees to produce pure, dripless, smokeless Buzzy Bee Monastery Candles just for your family. Buzzy Bee Monastery Candles: from Old Russia straight to your Icon Corner. Sold in fine parish basement bookstores everywhere, or online at buzzybeemonasterycandles.com.
AR: Thank you, Father Vasiliy.
VV: Oy.
AR: And now we return to our debate. Father John, would you like to rebut Father Iulian’s arguments?
JM: Would I! Father Iulian, you know as well as I do that the calendar hasn’t remained unchanged since the days of the Apostles. Many changes have been made, feasts moved, and so forth. The calendar wasn’t written in stone and dropped at the feet of the Holy Bishops in 65 AD. It has grown and evolved as the Church of Christ has moved through the centuries, always seeking to love and serve God in the best way it can.
     And besides, celebrating St. John on the 28th isn’t like a really major move. It’s not like moving St. Stephen the Protomartyr to December 27 so we can celebrate a Synaxis on the 26th. And yet even old calendarists such as yourself do not bat an eye over that one. So your stand on this minor adjustment―
VV: Thank you, Father John. Father Iulian, your response?
JM: I wasn’t finished yet.
VV: Yes, you were.
JM: No, I wasn’t. I still had two more things left to say.
VV: Please to bring them up in cross-ex. Time is running short. Now moving to Father Iulian.
IK: Thank you, Father. Let us to change this! Let us to change that! Where does it all end? One day you are moving St. John Cassian to February 28, and next day you are abolishing fast, installing organs in church, and letting women wear trousers or cut hair short. Is wrong path to head down. Best to keep to unblemished 100% track record of Holy Tradition.
AR: I can see that Father John has questions to ask Father Iulian.
JM: I just … I’m not sure … How can you ….
VV: Clearly Father John is having hard time gathering words. We take moment, let in-house Beard to Beard choir sing Buzzy Bee Monastery Candles advertising jingle. In First Tone.
Choir: When thou, O Bee, wast created in the beginning
God the Lord of All gave you many gifts
You make sweet honey for man and for bear to enjoy
And pure wax for man to melt down into candles.
O Bee, most wondrous of all insects,
We thank thee for thy light-giving wax,
For thou dost make Buzzy Bee Monastery Candles pahhhh-seeeeee-bulllllll.
AR: Thank you, choir. Now back to Father John.
JM: It’s just one feast, it’s just one day! What’s the big deal!
AR: Is that all?
JM: Yes, that’s all.
AR: Father Iulian?
IK: Mighty oaks from little acorns are growing. Why take chances? Leave calendar alone. Besides, perhaps God has some special reason for only celebrating St. John Cassian once every four years?
VV: Is all?
IK: Is all.
VV: Thank you, Father James and Father Iulian, for joining us on Beard to Beard. I am Father Vasiliy Vasileivich.
AR: And I am Reader Alexis Riggle.
VV: And we will see you in 13 days, for next show.
AR: Why thirteen days?
VV: We talked about this.
AR: I don’t remember anything about it.
VV: Was in inter-office memo.
AR: We don’t have inter-office memos.
VV: Was in e-mail.
AR: This show consists of you, me and Basil, the janitor, cameraman, and make-up artist.
VV: Oh, please to look at time! Bye bye from now from Anaxios TV’s smash hit debate show, Beard to Beard. Goodnight.
AR: Goodnight.

Copyright © 2005-2011 by Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

If you like Alex Riggle’s Orthodox-themed satire, you might enjoy his recently-released book, Is Outrage!, which gathers all (but one) of the Father Vasiliy articles from the Onion Dome, including this one, under one cover. Satisfaction on every page.

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About Your Intrepid Blogger

I live in the Tacoma area. When not writing things some people think are funny, I teach technology to 7th and 8th graders at a local middle school.

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