The ‘Concentor’ Explained

What is a Concentor? Well, it comes from the Latin “concentio” which has a number of meanings, including “music”, “harmony” and “singing together”.

So how does that fit into the life of the monastic community? There are a number of roles that I fill as the Concentor in a monastic community. First and foremost is being a full member of the community, and helping to lead it prayer life through music. This encompasses a few different roles. The first being that I help to lead the sung parts of the offices i.e. the hymns etc. at Lauds, Sext, Vespers and Compline. But as well as leading the hymns, I take on the role of finding hymns for the day, that are appropriate within the liturgical calendar.

Secondly, I contribute to the musical life of the wider parish, which often involved working within a team of musicians. Primarily, this involves being a member of the Choir in St Mary’s Priory Church. This links back into leading worship through music, as it is regularly my job to sing the Preces at evensong. The musical life of the Concentor isn’t all traditional however. In All Age Worship, working with Deacon Sarah and Sr Jennii, we have started doing modern christian rock music on a regular basis.

Thirdly, it provides time for me to develop as a musician, which is based largely on providing time for to practice singing, as well as attend two singing lessons a week. However, it can equally provide time for refining compositional skills or to practice conducting. It has even provided time for me to do some academic reading (a novelty for me) in order to prepare for my dissertation.

Today marks two months since I was commissioned into the community, and a lot has happened in that time. I’ve developed a lot as a musician but there’s more to it than that. I’ve been learning how to appropriately choose music for offices which is liturgically correct. But I’ve also developed spiritually as well as musically. The support in and around the community is truly incredible, and I feel blessed to be in such a supportive environment, where I have been given the chance to grow musically and spiritually.

 

Br Simon

Blessing of the Throat

The Prior today blessed the throat of our Concentor.

candlemas

The Church tradition is that throats are blessed with a prayer for prevention from sore throats on the Feast of St Blaze. The Blessing is made with candles blessed at the previous days Candlemass.

In our third year, we are beginning to develop traditions as a Community. The blessing of the Concentor’s throat on the Feast of St Blaze will become one of these.

What we have learnt

As our series on Angels comes to and end, let us reflect on what we have learnt.

Misconceptions about angels are so widely spread that not everyone is going to agree on what they are like, the bible only tells us so much. surely if God has chosen not to reveal certain things about angels to us, we must comply with this and trust that He has his reasons for this. However we can also see that God has provided us with quite a lot of information about angels, and if we truly want to know and understand we only have to look, nothing in this world is given to us, but we only have to ask, if we take the Gospel according to St. Matthew chapter 7 verses 7-8

‘Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks, receives. He who seeks, finds. To him who knocks it will be opened.’

God I believe wishes for us to share in His world and His creations as much as we can but He gave us free will, we must choose to learn as much as we can.

The one thing I urge you to take away from this series is the knowledge that we can’t trust everything that we are told, and likewise don’t just take my word on these misconceptions, I have included bible references please go and read them, look into them. The bible is full of little details that often get over looked but when you put them together they can create great pictures for you.

I hope you have found this series inspiring and if you have any comments or questions please do not hesitate to get in touch, I would love to discuss this or any other topic that this has inspired in more detail.

 

Sr. Jennii

Fallen Angels

Lucifer, Fallen Angel, Satan.

These three names are used interchangeably in society, and the common belief is that Lucifer was an angel that fell and became Satan and waged war on God.

There is no scriptural basis for this what so ever, the fall of Lucifer does not mention hell or that he was an angel, the passage where this belief comes from (Isaiah 12:14) when looked at the hebrew views on this passage, it was about a Babylonian king who fell from his throne when he was persecuting Israelites. Another theory is that it is a prophecy of Christ, which given that it is from the book of the prophet Isaiah, is highly probable, as Isaiah is one of the Major Prophets, he predicted the coming of Christ and how Christ would come. This passage is thought to be about the coming of the Lord as Lucifer means Morning star, and a name for Christ is the Morning star and he did come down from Heaven.

So it is quite possible that the more commonly accepted interpretation of this passage maybe the complete opposite from the original meaning, however we are likely never to find out what this passage is meaning as with many of the imagery and symbolism in the bible it has varying interpretations and all we can do is our best to understand and interpret them by using a variety of passages to build up a more developed base to begin from.

This of course then has an impact on our understanding of demons.

There is actually no scriptural evidence to suggest that fallen angels became demons.

However there is some tenuous links towards the Nephilim becoming demons, as we discussed a couple of days ago, Nephilim, possibly were a hybrid of angels and humans, if that is so, then when they were destroyed in the flood, already being spiritual beings their death would have been different to the death of humans.

All though the flood wiped out all the Nephilim, it would seem that the some of the angels once again were tempted by human women, so the Nephilim returned, but God had promised never to flood the earth again, he may have then sent his chosen people to destroy the Nephilim without revealing this plan to us as another name of Nephilim was Apkallu which we are told after the flood where in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod. Goliath, the giant that David fought came from Gath, Goliath wasn’t just a called a giant because he was a bit taller than usual, he stood at 9 feet 9 inches tall so it is possible he was a decendant of the Nephilim. Another lesser known Giant would be Og the King of Bashan, Og is thought to have been one of the last of the Rephaim, Og was killed in battle by Moses and his army, this also supports the theory that God destroyed the Nephilim the second time by sending his chosen people into battle with them.

It is noteworthy that the region north of the river Jabbok, or Bashan, “the land of Rephaim”, contains hundreds of megalithic stone tombs (called dolmen) dating from the 5th to 3rd millennia BC. In 1918, Gustav Dalman discovered in the neighborhood of Amman Jordan (Amman is built on the ancient city of Rabbah of Ammon) a noteworthy dolmen which matched the approximate dimensions of Og’s bed as described in the Bible. Such ancient rock burials are seldom seen west of the Jordan river, and the only other concentration of these megaliths are to be found in the hills of Judah in the vicinity of Hebron, where the giant sons of Anak were said to have lived (Numbers 13:33).

One tribe of Nephilim were called Rephaim, there is a valley of Rephaim which connects to the valley of Hinnon which is where the name Gehenna originates from (Gehenna meaning Hades/hell)

Also 1 Enoch refers to the Nephilim as ‘Fatherless spirits’ a phrase also used in the Dead sea scrolls to refer to demons. So it is possible that the demons that are spoke of our the souls of the Nephilim, as they would be half spiritual and half earthly and so the tethers to each domain wouldn’t be as strong, meaning that when they died they would most likely enter a state similar to purgatory.

Honoring the Angels

I want to take some time to focus on the powers that angels seem to have.

We have spoken about the ferocity of the seraphim and cherubim. Angels are also extremely determined, when given a task they will stop at nothing until they have completed it.

Although angels appear in the most poignant and significant moments in the bible, it is important to note how they are submissive to God, they receive their gifts from him just as we do, seraphim spend there time continuously praising the Lord, so yes they are incredibly powerful but they are not omnipotent. They also are not Omnipresent, as they are sent where they are needed to be, by being ‘sent’ that shows that they were not already there.

The trait of wise is often given to angels, however just like us they receive their knowledge from the Lord. Angels are closer to God than we are and do have a more of an insight to the happens in the world and in heaven however, they are not omniscient, as no one could know the plan of God. As the booklet states in the Gospel according to Matthew we are told of how not even the angels know when the day of the Lord is coming, (Matt 24:36) and as previously mentioned when I spoke about how humans do not become angels The book of Peter makes this clear by telling us how the holy spirit passes messages to human kind and the angels wish they too could hear it. If the angels where omniscience they would not need to hear these messages as they would already know.

This leads on to the next subject for discussion quite nicely. Angels may be powerful and seem to be the ones to carry out actions that help or hinder our lives but the actions they carry out are the actions they are given by God. Just because Angels are celestial beings does not make them Gods, Jesus and the patriarch and prophets are all very clear about how we should only worship God.

It is similar to misunderstanding between different denominations of Christianity itself. The more protestant traditions believing that the more catholic traditions worship or pray to the saints.

This is not the case, the saints in catholic traditions are given praise based on their devotions to the faith however this is not the same as worship. Also the saints are not prayed to but we ask for them to pray for us to the Lord.

Similarly angels are given there due respect but are not to be worshiped.

The only ones to be worshiped are, the father, the son and the Holy spirit. The one God by whom all things were made.

Nephilim and the Flood

In this blog we look at Nephilim and the flood, where the theories behind them came from.

The Biblical account of the great flood of Noah’s day opens with an enigmatic passage, Genesis 6: 1-4.The record of Noah, it seems, could easily have omitted them, going directly from the end of chapter five to 6: 5 without losing any essential information pertaining to the flood. The flow of the Genesis narrative seems to be interrupted by these verses.

So why did God inspire Moses to include these verses? Other questions also come to mind. God had, for many hundreds of years, continued the punishment meted out to Adam. We read in chapter five repeatedly the phrase, “and he died”. Why was not the ordinary death of human beings sufficient punishment for sin? What was the factor that required the simultaneous deaths of all mankind save Noah and his family?

There seems to be a deeper and more compelling reason for the flood than the sinfulness of man. These four verses, I believe, along with other Scriptures, give us a fuller picture of the reason God sent the flood to cover the earth.

If we look at the phrase ‘the Sons of God and the Daughters of Men’ There are differing views as to the identification of these “sons of God” mentioned in verses 2 and 4. Robert C. Newman surveyed the various ideas proposed and accepted by ancient Jewish exegetes, ancient Christian interpreters and the authors of the New Testament. He documented the fact that in the pre-Christian era, Jews accepted the view that the “sons of God” were supernatural beings. The New Testament writers also accepted that view. It is only in relatively recent times that a non-supernatural identification of these “sons of God” has found wide acceptance. (Robert C. Newman, The Ancient Exegesis of Genesis 6: 2, 4. Grace Theological Journal, 5, 1, 1984 p 13 – 36.)

This expression, “sons of God” is used several times in the Old Testament. It appears in the opening of the oldest book of the Bible, Job 1: 6 and 2:1. There it is used of angels, both holy and fallen, since Satan was among them. In Job 38:7, the “sons of God” are the angels who rejoiced at the creation of the earth.

In the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, as well as in the Dead Sea scrolls, Deuteronomy 32: 43 reads, “Shout joyfully, O heavens, with Him and worship Him, O Sons of God.” Here, these sons of God are angels.

In all but one passage of the Old Testament the term is used of angels. Only in Hosea 1:10 is the phrase, “sons of God” used of men. But the men in the Hosea passage are those in a covenant relationship with God. This expression is never used of humans in rebellion against God.

Now, in Genesis 6 the term cannot mean humans since those of whom it speaks are certainly not in a covenant relationship with God. Noah and his family were the only righteous men on earth. Genesis 6: 9, 18 and 7:1.

if we look in to the New Testament  we find some pertinent passages, such as

1 Peter 3: 19 – 20, 2 Peter 2: 4 and Jude 6 – 7.

1 Peter 3:19-20 speaks of Jesus, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit, “by Whom also He preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient when once the Divine long suffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared…” (NKJV)

2 Peter 2:4 reads, “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah…” (NKJV)

The Jude passage states:

And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (NKJV)

The context of these passages is the Flood; actually the 120 years the ark was being prepared “in the days of Noah”. Since Christ announced the doom of those in chains of darkness awaiting their judgment, the identification of them as disobedient angels who did not keep their proper abode is certain.

The only possibility of placing that angelic disobedience in the context of the Flood is Genesis 6:1 -4.

An objection to this view of angels mating with humans is based on Matthew 22:30, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels in heaven.”

Can angels have sexual relations with humans? We need only look at Lot’s experience in Sodom to answer that question. The men of Sodom clearly intended just that with the two angels who came to rescue Lot and his family (Genesis 19:5 ff.). Obviously the angels in heaven do not have such relations. But the angels in these New Testament passages did not “keep their proper domain, but left their own abode”. They certainly were not in heaven.

Jude 7 is quite explicit. These angels sinned “in like manner” as the men of Sodom and Gomorrah in sexual immorality by going after “strange (heteros) flesh. This heteros flesh is “another of a different kind”. Wuest’s translation of Jude 6 and 7 is especially clear. He writes:

And angels who did not carefully keep inviolate their original position of pre-eminent dignity but abandoned once and for all their own private dwelling place, with a view to the judgment of the great day, in everlasting bonds under darkness He has placed under careful guard. Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, in like manner to these [the angels of verse 6], having given themselves over with a complete abandon to fornication, and having gone after a different kind of flesh [from their own, cohabiting with beings of a different nature], are being set forth as an exhibit, undergoing the punishment of everlasting fire.