In these times of global pestilence, it is easy to engage in speculations about whether the Last Days are upon us, seizing upon things uncommon or extraordinary as signs of Apocalypse. Anything from the arrival or locusts in East Africa to corona shaped hailstones in Mexico may be taken as coded messages from God. It is, then, perhaps a good time to reflect soberly upon Orthodox teachings about how to recognize the End Times when they do arrive; and we can find no better guide for this than Fr Seraphim Rose, who unlike many moderns takes prophecy quite seriously, while always holding up its interpretation to the light of patristic teachings.
When Communist theorist Antonio Gramsci fled Rome for Russia, he was disappointed to discover that Bolshevism was not going to succeed. He concluded that it was the deeply ingrained Orthodox Christian culture of the Russian people that stood in the way. And as many of our readers can attest, it was the babushkas, those mothers of all mothers and fathers, that most of all kept the flame of Orthodox faith and culture alive. On this Mothers’ Day, the simple, loving remembrance in this story can help us understand how the light and warmth of Orthodox culture was preserved through those many dark years and passed on to future generations.
The true disciple of Jesus, whether a man or a woman, is not the one who carries a Christian identity on account of having been baptized, but the one who imitates the courageousness of Joseph of Aramathea, the Myrrh-Bearing Women, and the martyrs who offered themselves up in order to hold fast to their faith… only the courageous deserve to be beloved of Jesus.
The Apostle Thomas, writes Fr. Daniel Sisoyev, was by nature skeptical and stubborn. He demanded to see Christ in his body after the resurrection before he would believe the apostolic testimony that Christ rose from the dead. “Christ acquiesced to the demand by appearing to Thomas, and in so doing affirmed that His rising was indeed a resurrection of the body as well as the soul.
Unlike the English term Easter, which evokes the Teutonic spring-goddess Ostara or Eastra, the Greek word Pascha is a direct transliteration of the Aramaic pascha, which in turn renders the Hebrew pesach, meaning Passover. St Porphyrios explains here in simple, but compelling language how Christ Himself has become our true Passover from darkness into light, from sin and death into life—how His Resurrection has accomplished “the most important thing in [our] life and in the life of the entire universe.” And in this way, he tells us why, like kid-goats in the exuberance of spring, we should leap and frolic with joy as the light of this incomparable event dawns upon us!
This Holy Week and Pascha, the Covid-19 pandemic has given the faithful a hard saying. They will be deprived of celebrating these high and holy days in their parishes. They will be deprived of receiving holy communion. Nevertheless, they need not, now or ever, be deprived of Christ, for nothing, neither death nor life, neither things present nor things to come, can ever “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).
“Are any among you suffering? Let them pray. Are any cheerful? Let them sing praises! Are any among you sick? Let them call for the presbyters of the Church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the Name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will heal those who are sick and the Lord will raise them up. If they have committed sins, they will be forgiven. Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The insistent prayer of a righteous person is powerfully effective!” (James 5: 13-16)
Truth first enters the world through a word and the more sublime a truth, the more sublime is the language that expresses it. In the essay below written in the third century, St. Gregory the Wonder Worker writes of the Annunciation of the Theotokos, where the angel Gabriel converses with the Virgin Mary in preparation of the coming of the Son of God as man.
Don’t be confused, don’t fear, don’t panic over the Coronavirus pandemic counsels Archimandrite Zacharias of St. John the Baptist Monastery in Essex, England. Nothing that happens to us falls outside the purview of God, and God does everything in love.
In this talk, given to monks and pilgrims at the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1977, Fr Seraphim Rose shows how St Patrick must be regarded not just as a romantic figure from a bygone era, but also as our own contemporary, enlightening not just the ancient Celts but ourselves as well, who are surrounded by a very different kind of darkness from that of pre-Christian Ireland.
The Triumph of Orthodoxy, which we celebrate on the first Sunday of Lent, entails both an affirmation and a negation. It commemorates the restoration, in the year 787, of icons to Orthodox temples and homes, and at the same time it commends what the Seventh Ecumenical Council called their “veneration and honor (timitiki proskynisis)” while reserving their “real worship (latreia)” for God alone.
First we must remember what we have lost. Indeed, “all mankind weeps and sighs over the first Adam, over the now elusive phantom of happiness.” But we don’t realize that it is paradise itself from which we have been expelled and that this is why we live as exiles. “The whole world, harassed and weary, weeps because of its waywardness, because of its naked soul; because life is aimless and joyless. Nothing can fill our life so that we might unconditionally feel the fullness of true—not phantom—happiness; for this fullness is only in God.”
Mount Athos, the center of Orthodox Monasticism located on an autonomous peninsula in Northern Greece, has what Dr. Jean Claude Larchet calls a “prophetic role” in the modern world. This is true not only for Orthodox Christians, but believers in other religions and even atheists, Larchet writes.
A lingering vestige of the Cold War between the United States and Russia includes what could be called a ‘reflexive bi-polarism,’ a simplistic and crude reduction that caricatures not only Russia’s political role in the world today, but its history, culture, and people. It’s an unfortunate and impoverishing state of affairs.
In this lucid and accessible talk, Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) takes us to the heart of Orthodox spirituality. His approach here is emphatically practical, rather than theoretical or technical.
The world lost one of its finest, most original, and most independent thinkers with the repose of Sir Roger Scruton last weekend. Sir Roger was also a friend of Another City; we featured several of his articles, and we were proud to have him as an early subscriber to this journal.
In this enchanting tale, Fr Stephen takes us back to his Fishtown neighborhood in Philadelphia, where Kusheri’s and Fr Naum’s fantasy of soaring in the summer sky over the Jersey Shore is interrupted by a young couple in love and the recollection of childhood questions about the relation of God, man, and animals — about the relation of the childlike and the mature — and about questions of death and resurrection.
Pagan antiquity, writes Fr. Stephen De Young, often portrayed a world in chaos. Ancient gods were viewed as fighting monstrous creatures of chaos, a kind of primordial being represented by natural forces — the “elemental spirits of the world” as St. Paul put it — against which the battle for order had to be won.
Sometimes what seem like simple, everyday reflections can run deep. That is, they can be radical in the original sense or returning us to the radix or root of the matter, taking us not to exotic locales but bringing us back to a home we had almost forgotten. It seems to us that this short contemplative reflection by Another City Contributing Editor Frederica Mathewes-Green possesses precisely this quality.
We have come from afar to venerate the infant Christ — not from the land of the wise men but out of the darkness of our own souls, out of the murk of sinfulness. We have been guided by the miraculous star that has risen within us, obeying its mysterious and powerful call.