TRANSLATIONS FROM THE GREEK

[No version of this beautiful canon comes with the irmos for Ode 1.]

CANON TO THE MOTHER OF GOD CHANTED FOR EVERY AFFLICTION AND DESPONDENCY
by the Monk Gerasimos Mikragiannanitos

Ode 1. Tone 8.
Most holy Mother of God, save us.

Since you supernaturally bore God, who lifted the curse laid on mortal men, dissolve the cloud of my despondency, for you are the inexhaustible well-spring of compassion.

Most holy Mother of God, save us.

Deliver me from the whirlwind of attacks made against me and from the insulting abuse of the enemy, and, I entreat you, heal my sick soul, Virgin, for you bore the well-spring of mercy.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

O Maiden, in your sympathy heal the pain of my soul, transforming the afflictions and hardships of my life into true joys.

Now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Quickly disperse, O Maiden, with the breeze of your compassion the harsh, heavy and sorrowful burden of my many sins and save me, I implore you.

Ode 3.
Irmos. You are the foundation.

Most holy Mother of God, save us.

The winds of sicknesses and anxieties have blown on me, from whose corruption deliver me by your fervent protection.

Most holy Mother of God, save us.

Like wild dogs, many afflictions have encircled me; deliver me from their mad assault, Mother of God, and save me.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Crush the terrible insolence of the serpent against me, and give joy, Mother of God, to my wretched heart.

Ode 4.
Irmos. I have hearkened, Lord.

Most holy Mother of God, save us.

O Lady, gladden my heart, which is imperiled by bitter attacks, and save me with your most sympathetic foresight.

Most holy Mother of God, save us.

The enemies have raised their murderous voice against me, seeking to destroy me, but anticipate my need, O Lady, and deliver me from their attack.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Cause a river of divine sweetness to burst on me in your kindness and dry up all the bitterness which the all-destructive enemy has sent against me.

Now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Let your fervent supplication be a breeze of salvation and relief for my life, Maiden, for I am oppressed by many afflictions.

Ode 5.
Irmos. Illumine us.

Most holy Mother of God, save us.

Disperse with your grace the difficult load of despondency and affliction, which causes pain to my wretched life, O Virgin.

Most holy Mother of God, save us.

Graciously grant joy in my heart, pure Virgin, and destroy the bitter pain which the serpent stealthily pours into me.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Rescue me, pure Queen, from the grief of my soul caused by the multitudes of my falls into sin and grant me the saving pleasure of sorrow.

Now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O pure Virgin, cause sweetness and spiritual dew to pour like rain into my soul, for I have been parched by the passions and I waste away due to my cooperation with the wicked one.

Ode 6.
Irmos. My supplication.

Most holy Mother of God, save us.

Look graciously from above upon me, your humble suppliant, for I have been wounded by the painful arrows of the destructive enemy, O Maiden; crush his fierce cruelty which he inflicts upon me.

Most holy Mother of God, save us.

Bitter affliction oppresses my soul, O Maiden, due to my numberless falls, but I run to your sympathy and cry out from the depths of my heart, Deliver me from my bitter distress, for it leads me to destruction.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

I am now required by the just tribunal of the Savior, O Mother of God, to give an account of my myriad sins; wherefore I am stricken with pains and passions; but, all-immaculate and holy Virgin, in your sympathy pity me.

Now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Inasmuch as you bore the all-compassionate Savior of the world who grants us mercy, O Virgin Mary, have mercy on me, your wretched servant; I beg you to free me from the terrible affliction which has found me.

Ode 7.
Irmos. Those from Judea.

Most holy Mother of God, save us.

With a sprinkling of your mercy, O Mother of God, quench the burning coals of my passions, give me refreshment, and deliver me from harsh affliction, so that I may cry to you: Rejoice, pure Virgin, well-spring of joy.

Most holy Mother of God, save us.

Loftiest throne of the Master of all and immaculate Virgin: raise me from the abyss of sin and all ignorance, for I cry, O God of our fathers, blessed are you.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

I earnestly entreat you to deliver my wretched soul from distress, despondency and hateful habit and give me tears of compunction, so that I may wash away the filth of my passions, O pure Virgin.

Now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

With the light of dispassion, illumine my soul, which is covered by the darkness of the passions and give encouragement and strength to your suppliant, O Lady, so that I may reverently do the will of the Lord.

Ode 8.
Irmos. The king.

Most holy Mother of God, save us.

Be gracious, O Maiden, and dry up all the stream of afflictions and cause the water of joy to gush forth upon my humble soul, I entreat you.

Most holy Mother of God, save us.

Be my relief amid needs and my comfort in pains of body and soul, so that I may glorify you, most glorified Virgin.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

O Maiden, your Son caused joy to gush forth for the world and he put an end to the pain of the curse; wherefore bring an end to my affliction of heart, too.

Now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Sprinkle on me the water of spiritual joy drawn from the well-spring of salvation, all-pure Maiden, and end the dryness of my heart.

Ode 9.
Irmos. Fittingly, the Mother of God.

Most holy Mother of God, save us.

Joy of the angels and most favored Virgin: give joy to my soul, afflicted by the passions, in your motherly sympathy.

Most holy Mother of God, save us.

Cause my mind to understand with the knowledge of repentance and give me the taste of the divine kindness of your Son, O Virgin, so that I may be saved.

Most holy Mother of God, save us.

With a kindly eye, Mother of God, behold the contrite distress of my soul and drive away the cloud of despondency which oppresses me.

Most holy Mother of God, save us.

Deliver me from the madness of Belial, O Virgin, and heal, I beg, the diseases of my soul and body and remedy the wretched consequences of my falls into sin.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

O lampstand filled wholly with the light of spiritual glory, Mother of God and all-hymned Virgin: deliver my life from every hardship.

Now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Grant that my mind may triumph over all despondency and every wretched habit, and deem me worthy of salvation, immaculate Virgin.

A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO RELIGIOUS DOUBTS

ORIGINS OF CERTAINTY … 3

Now that we know why evidence imparts certainty to a claim, we need to know how evidence is relevant to a claim.

What makes evidence matter, as Stephen Toulmin tells us, is its warrant.1  Let’s define warrant as a rule which dictates what is allowed as evidence and how compelling it is.

Let’s look at a few examples of warrants.

Suppose that the Mr. Slaughter claims he could not have murdered Mr.  Corpus in London because Mr. Slaughter was in Gravesend at the time.  Here the accused appeals to the warrant that no man can be in two places at once.  This warrant makes Mr. Slaughter’s presence in Gravesend compelling evidence of his innocence.

If Mr. Fraile says he is sick, why does it matter if his temperature is 99 degrees?  It matters because of a rule which states that if someone’s temperature is above 98.6 degrees, he is sick.  If Mr. Fraile says he cannot go to work today, his fever is likely to persuade his boss.

Reverting to the Dover Restaurants problem, my warrant could be that if the owner of a restaurant cannot be bothered to maintain his building properly, he likely cannot be bothered to serve good food, either.  As warrants go, this warrant does not seem to be as persuasive as Mr. Slaughter’s warrant or the feverish warrant, but that is okay.  In a pinch, it could give me some quick way to settle a question.

In all three examples, the warrant states or implies what sort of evidence must be introduced in order to confirm the claim.

How does warrant relate to certainty?

I do not have a complete answer to this question, nor is it likely available, but we may make a start here by distinguishing important types of warrants which confer different degrees of certainty.2

If we return to the case of Mr. Slaughter, we see that his warrant confers necessity upon his innocence, since his warrant cannot conceivably be violated.  This kind of warrant is called a metaphysical warrant.  Similar warrants are A statement may not be false and true at the same time in the same sense; killing for no reason is morally right; whatever is, is; and so forth.  It is characteristic of metaphysical warrants that violating them drives us to either incoherence or madness.

In Mr. Fraile’s case, the feverish warrant is a kind of physical necessity.  Physical necessities “are ultimate facts, which we take on the evidence of experience, without being able to give their final account.”3  Natural necessities are squishier than metaphysical warrants.  For instance, water may boil at 212º F for most people, but the inhabitants of the Mile High City know that a full statement of the facts must include air pressure to explain when water boils.  Warrants involving natural necessities are not as conclusive as metaphysical warrants, but they are still sturdy.

Finally, we have moral warrants.  A moral warrant relies upon the moral character of the person involved.  This kind of warrant therefore demonstrates in range of certitude exactly that range occupied by moral character.

At one end of the range, Rickaby observes that “it is a sheer impossibility that historians should be deceiving us, when they narrate certain substantial events in the lives of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Charlemagne.”4  He can say this for a number of compelling reasons—the sheer abundance of evidence from the earliest times on, the consensus of the learned, the stigma (once) attached to mendacity among historians and so forth.

At the other end of the range, I would not ask a used car salesman for his opinion on a fair price for a car on his lot; the salesman has too many reasons to inflate the price.

In the Dover Restaurants problem, my warrant is a moral warrant.  The kind of person who keeps his restaurant looking spic and span is in my experience more likely to offer a decently and hygienically prepared meal, but I could not swear by it.  This illustrates why the moral warrant is tricky to apply.

In conclusion, if evidence is what leads us to the truth, warrant is what confirms the viability and weight of the evidence.  Warrants are not equally authoritative, so we have to pay attention to the type of warrant being used when we evaluate an argument.

 

ENDNOTES
1.  I rely throughout on the Toulmin Model Argument, as the perceptive reader will note. For details, see Stephen Toulmin, Richard Rieke, Allan Janik, An Introduction to Reasoning, 2nd ed. (NY:  MacMillan Publishers, 1984).
2.  The astute reader will note that I am using Rickaby’s discussion of the three kinds of certitude (The First Principles of Knowledge, 4th ed. [London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1901], 44) to provide a classification for Toulmin’s otherwise unwieldy concept of warrants.
3.  Rickaby, 57.
4.  Ibid., 58.

 

A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO RELIGIOUS DOUBTS

THE ORIGINS OF CERTAINTY … PART 2

Why does evidence matter?

In order to answer this question, we need to clear up the notion of essence.

According to H. W. B. Joseph, essence is whatever makes something what it is and not something else.1  The reason why a chair and a dog are different things is because they have different essences.  Although essence is not an everyday word, every time we define a word, we are stating its essence.

For example, according to Joseph, the essence of a church is “a building devoted to the service of God according to the principles of the Christian religion.”2  The essential terms here are building, service, God, principles, Christian religion.  If we change any of these terms, we will not have a church.

For example, if we change “Christian” to “Moslem,” then we will have a mosque.  Again, if we change “God” to “Shiva” and “Christian” to “Hindu,” we get the definition of a Hindu temple.  Finally, if we change “God” to “Shiva” and don’t change “Christian” to “Hindu,” we get nonsense, since “a building devoted to the service of Shiva according to the principles of the Christian religion” is self-contradictory.

We may now return to evidence and say that evidence always depends upon the essence of the truth.  We may also say that the essence itself furnishes us with the clues for verifying the truth.

Suppose that I define monkey as a member of the class of laughing animals, meaning that they laugh sincerely (as St. John of Damascus puts it3) in response to jokes or some similar cue.  Next, suppose that someone challenges my definition.  By my own definition of monkeys, I am required to find some monkeys, isolate those circumstances under which monkeys laugh and prove that their laughter has detectable causes resembling the cues which prompt our laughter.  We can see from this example that the direction in which we head for evidence is indicated by the essence itself.

Three consequences follow from this discussion of essence.

First, whenever I am arguing for a claim, my evidence must be based on the essence of the truth in question.  The power of evidence lies in this fact—that it is determined by the essence of the truth of the thing itself.

For instance, if we take the temperature of a child who claims he is ill, it is because the human body has the essential feature of seeking to kill alien microbes with a fever.  The fever is evidence which is based directly upon the essence of the human body and upon the essence of alien microbes. 

Second, Rickaby says that when we respond to evidence for a claim, “we feel it to be something independent of us, existing before us and giving the law imperiously to our course of thought.” This is because evidence takes all its power and conclusiveness from the essence of the truth itself.  The more we rise above self-interest and prejudice in pursuit of truth, the more keenly we feel the force of evidence.

Finally, we can now see from the two preceding considerations why the origin of certainty is evidence.  Certainty means nothing if it is not founded upon truth; certainty that is not founded upon truth comforts only the ignorant or the deceived.

ENDNOTES
1.  H. W. B. Joseph, An Introduction to Logic, 2nd ed. (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1906; repr. 1966), 72.
2.  Ibid.
3.  John of Damascus, Philosophical Chapters, trans. Frederic H. Chase, Jr. Fathers of the Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1958), 37:14.
4.  John Rickaby, The First Principles of Knowledge, 4th ed. (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1901), 42.

A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO RELIGIOUS DOUBTS

THE ORIGINS OF CERTAINTY … 1

Now that we have examined the degrees of certitude, we will turn to the origins of certitude.  After all, it won’t do us any good to discuss doubts if we have no way of settling them.

So, we last mentioned how ignorance gives way to doubt, doubt to suspicion and so forth.  What allows us to upgrade, say, doubt to suspicion?

Many years ago, I was passing through Dover, England, where, I was told by the tour guide, the only good places to eat at were two Chinese restaurants.  Let’s call them Chang’s Chow Fon and Eng’s Chow Fon.   Suppose I can put off eating for a bit, but not too long.  Short of eating in each restaurant in turn to decide where I should eat, how do I decide?

As a first approximation, I decide to judge them by appearances.  Suppose that I discover that Chang’s restaurant is obviously badly kept—the grass is knee-high, a window in front is broken, paint is peeling in giant flakes—and Eng’s has a neatly kept lawn, shining windows and an otherwise immaculate appearance.  For me, this decides where dinner will be.

What’s happening in this story?

I started off the evening in positive doubt, since the tour guide implicitly gave the two restaurants equally strong recommendations.  Figuratively speaking, the scales of judgment were level.  By finding out which one was more decently kept, I found something by which to tip the scales.  This something is evidence.

Before we discuss the nature of evidence, we need to define the word claim:  a claim is any statement whose truth is in doubt.  If I say, “I should eat at the nicely kept Chinese restaurant,” that is a claim.  I can’t know which one offers better food until I have tried both, but the price of certainty—eating, say, the same dish at both restaurants—is too high a price for me to pay in terms of time, health and money.

Many claims can be justified by experience and so become facts.  If I am ironing clothes, listening to music and using a fan, and suddenly everything goes dark, I can claim that I tripped the circuit breaker.  When I go to the garage and find the relevant circuit breaker in the off position, my claim becomes a fact.

Other claims have a harder time becoming facts.  For instance, even if I ate at both restaurants, I might find that their dishes are equally good, so that I hesitate to regard either claim as fact.  Or I might find out that both restaurants have more than one cook, and the quality of your meal depends on which cook is on duty.  In that case, I might decide that I have to ask a different question, since the question When do I eat at both restaurants? is more likely to give me top-of-the-line Chinese cuisine than Which restaurant is better?

We may now turn back to evidence:  We define evidence as anything that confirms a claim.  If I make the claim to my poker pals that I cannot play poker anymore, I can corroborate that claim by showing them a bank statement which shows there is nothing in the vault.  I have verified that my claim is a fact.  This example shows how (as Rickaby says) evidence is the test of truth.1

We may now say that evidence is how we upgrade any level of certitude to a higher (or for that matter a lower) level.

The importance of the notion of evidence requires us to discuss it a little more next time.

ENDNOTES

  1. See John Rickaby, The First Principles of Knowledge, 4th ed. (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1901), p. 222.

 

TRANSLATIONS FROM THE GREEK

[Here is another English language premiere, to the best of my knowledge.  This is an odd canon, a version which does not provide the incipit of the irmoi.  Apparently the composer wrote it to be said and not chanted, which would explain why the tone was not provided either.  I anticipate revising this in the months to come, as it takes me many readings to capture awkward phrasings or off-beat translations.  Any suggestions will be considered.  As usual, I wish to acknowledge the terrific work of my esteemed editor and my wife, though any blemishes may be laid safely at my door.]

CANON TO ST. PAISIUS OF THE HOLY MOUNTAIN

Ode 1
Afflicted by many temptations, I flee to you, crying out as to my mediator with God:  Bring peace, Father, to my life and grant me good health, too.

Inspired Father Paisius, having completed your life in a holy fashion, you always sanctify and deliver from every evil those who approach your protection.

Let us hymn the ascetic of Panagouda and the Mother of God in odes, entreating them to intercede with the Savior and to rescue those in dangers and afflictions.

Ode 3
Honoring you as in a choir, we all cry out, Father, praising your trials and your struggles against the leader of the unclean spirits, from whose madness, Saint, save us who hymn you.

Let us all glorify with hymns the initiate of ineffable things, the wonderworking saint and the champion of all Greece, receiving the fullness of his gifts, with which the Paraklete has adorned him.

As the defence of all against terrible afflictions, in your mercy you alone, O Virgin, guard those who hymn you by the intercessions of Paisius, the all-merciful elder of all Greeks.

[Prayer following Ode 3.]

Divine Father, preserve from dangers your servants, who entreat your help amid sufferings, and drive away their anxiety and apathy.

Ode 4.
Guard us, we beg you, from distress and keep watch over the faithful in the protection of our Christ, St. Paisius, for you are the new blossom of Athos, the venerable boast of the church and the adornment of all monks.

Stricken by the wickedness of the enemy, I take refuge in your defence, crying out, Bring peace to my life, Father, and grant me health.

O the new and wondrous miracles worked by your grace!  I will compose for you hymns with such words; I quail, O Father, and I am amazed.

My all-holy Queen, unconquerable wonder of the angels:  enable me to hymn you as the mother of the Savior of all.

Ode 5
You have truly become the father and the champion of all who are in distress and our delight in life, for you furnish to all your divine protection.

We have acquired you as our strength amid our sufferings, Paisius, and we flee to you with fervent prayers for you are our intercessor with the all-merciful God.

Guard us who honor you, Paisius, imparting to us from the suffering of Christ and the divine faith a fervent will.

We joyfully raise a hymn to you, O pure one, as you are truly the sweetness of the angels and by the birth of your Son the dissolution of the bitterness of Eve.

Ode 6
We are strengthened by your prayers, O Saint, and we raise our soul to the heavens, availing ourselves of your endurance and bravery in trials and terrible attacks, Paisius, our father; wherefore we all exalt you by common assent.

As one who performs mighty deeds of wonder, heal, O Father, the painful sickness of those who seek out your help, wonder-working Paisius.

Hymning you, immaculate Mother of God, we exalt our souls to the heavens, taking strength from the love of your Son; we hope in your maternal intercessions, begging you to grant that we attain to the enjoyment of the delight of Paradise.

[Selected prayers following Ode 6.]

Preserve from dangers, Paisius, your suppliants and grant help to your monastery, O Saint, for you enjoy boldness of speech with the Lord.

We recognize you, O Saint, as the mystic of Athos, the dignity of monks, the all-honorable adornment of priests, the noblest physician, the father of orphans, the restoration of those who have fallen, the deliverance of the possessed, the cause of peace and of great joy.  Wherefore we cry out to you: Do not cease to watch over, heal, and guard your servants, Father Paisius.

Ode 7
You passed your whole life in simplicity, and you served God and men, praying day and night, O Saint, and bearing our burdens, all-blessed Paisius.

We seek your paternal intercession with God on our behalf, thrice-blessed one, so that we may be preserved from dangers and the madness of the evil adversary, having confidence, Father, in your great compassion.

You were loved by all, for you gush forth love for us abundantly and heal our wounds, driving away demons and delivering us from distresses, furnishing grace always to all who ask you.

We hymn you gratefully, Virgin and Mother most favored by God, for you bore the Savior of the world and the all-merciful God without knowing man; always intercede with him that men be saved.

Ode 8
You make prayers to Christ for our health and the salvation of the world, wherefore we hymn you, thrice-blessed Paisius.

You, Lord, forgive the multitude of our sins by the fervent supplications of Paisius; also grant me to pass my life in repentance.

Give peace to my heart, for it is exceedingly disturbed by the distress of sufferings; soothe it by your grace, Father, benefactor of those who suffer.

You have become a mother perfect in virginity, bearing our God and Savior, entreating whom you save all men from dangers.

Ode 9
In your sympathy, preserve us weak ones who celebrate you from all kinds of diseases, difficult afflictions and deadly attacks and deceptions of the wicked author of evil.

Completing my life amid distresses, sufferings and fearful scourges, Father, I have fled to you for refuge; by no means despise me, but with your visitation deliver me from overwhelming sufferings.

We hymn you, Virgin full of grace, for you gave hope to the world, bearing our Savior, God and man, for all.

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