TEXTS – ORTHODOXY
Bassenthwaite Lake, Keswick, Cumbria
The Lake District, England
St. Bega’s Orthodox Church in Bassenthwaite, Cumbria, England
Lake District National Park from Above – Our Best Bits (HD)
Christ Won The Battle and Made My Heart Orthodox
An Interview With Fr. John Musther of Cumbria, England
JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY
Fr. John Musther, an Orthodox Englishman, serves in the Orthodox missionary parish of Sts. Bega, Mungo and Herbert in Keswick, Cumbria, North West England. His community, which is under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is part of the ancient tradition of the Orthodox Church. The congregation is a living witness of the truth of Holy Orthodoxy to the people living nearby.
In the first millennium, before the Norman Conquest, Church in Britain and in Ireland was in full communion with the universal Orthodox Church, both East and West. Then the differences between Eastern and Western Church were relatively minor, most of them limited to local traditions. Yet striving for holiness was the same.
During that time the peoples of Britain and Ireland gave the world thousands of saints, men and women, kings and queens, martyrs, bishops and abbots, hermits and missionaries. The whole land of Britain retains the memory of the ancient saints of these islands. A great number of early shrines and holy sites are scattered all over Britain and Ireland.
Cumbria, where Fr. John lives, is one of the largest and least densely populated counties in England. The Lake District, part of Cumbria, is one of the most picturesque regions in England, with breath-taking views from the hills. The Lake District is justly famous for many beautiful lakes, hills and forests, and for centuries was inspiring poets and writers, musicians and painters.
In the first millennium Cumbria developed rather separately from the rest of England, and had more links with Wales than with the seven historic Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Christian life of its inhabitants had been influenced by many traditions – Roman, Celtic (Welsh, Irish and Scottish), Saxon and even Norse. Material traces of all of these can be found today.
The Church tradition holds that St. Patrick, Apostle of the Irish, was born here. This region draws people by its magic beauty and tranquillity—and by its very rich early Christian heritage. Thanks be to God, that the revival of Orthodox Faith and rediscovering of nearly forgotten local saints and shrines is becoming a reality because of people like Fr. John Musther.
St. Bega’s Orthodox Church in Bassenthwaite, Cumbria
Fr. John, how did you become Orthodox?
I met Fr. Sophrony (Sakharov). I was a student at University College London reading for a law degree. It was early 1961 if I remember correctly. At any rate Fr. Sophrony had only recently arrived at the Old Rectory at Tolleshunt Knights, Essex. I knew just a little about Christianity through the Church of England but nothing about Orthodoxy. On Sunday afternoon after the Ninth Hour he invited me into his study while the tea was being made and asked me: what was the purpose of the Christian life? He spoke so gently and when I said that I didn’t know, he simply said, ‘the purpose of the Christian life is to ask the Lord Jesus to send the Holy Spirit into our hearts that he may cleanse us and make us more like Christ’.
I sat there dumbfounded. My hair stood on end. I had never heard of such a thing. I had no questions. I knew that what he had told me was the truth of his own heart. The only response was to be still and receive the precious gift he was giving me.
His statement was a complete summary of the Scriptures. It was the Word of God to me. It changed the direction of my life. The power of that word still urges me on.
He told me to read, “The Undistorted Image.” Again I felt completely poleaxed. It was like death. How could a man live like this?
I struggled with the Greek culture of the churches at that time. It was also many years before I could overcome the Protestant spirit that I found in me. Then one day I woke up and felt all my objections had fallen away. Christ had won the battle and had made my heart Orthodox. I discovered I was living near the late Fr. Sergei Hackel’s parish in Lewes in Sussex. He prepared myself and my wife Jenny for Chrismation in 2003.
Please, tell us about your parish.
The two of us moved to Cumbria in 2007 but not before I had been made a deacon with the mandate to see if there were any Orthodox in the area. We had bought a small cottage in Keswick which needed a lot of refurbishment. As the daily offices had already Continue reading “Christ Won The Battle & Made My Heart Orthodox – An Interview With Fr. John Musther of Cumbria, England (+Video – The Lake District)”