There exists a cherubic center of our soul, its angelic kernel which is of great significance. But it is buried in mystery and cannot be seen by the eyes of the flesh. . .
Part 1 of this interview takes us deep into the life of a young man who converts to Islam at the age of fourteen, and goes on to devote his life totally to his newly discovered faith, not only robustly practicing all the Islamic precepts, but going on to study for three years in a Muslim seminary to become an imam, where he learns Arabic, and intensively studies the Quran, Hadith, and Islamic theology and jurisprudence. Gradually he becomes disillusioned with the Islam he has learned, discovers an authentic Christianity that he had not known existed, and converts to Orthodoxy. Even as he retains a certain respect for for his former religion, his comparisons of Islam and Orthodoxy Christianity are vivid and compelling. Drawing on his own life-experience, he shows us Islamic faith and practice from within, indicating point by point its differences from the Orthodox Christian faith.
Part 2 of this interview takes us deep into the life of a young man who converts to Islam at the age of fourteen, and goes on to devote his life totally to his newly discovered faith, not only robustly practicing all the Islamic precepts, but going on to study for three years in a Muslim seminary to become an imam, where he learns Arabic, and intensively studies the Quran, Hadith, and Islamic theology and jurisprudence. Gradually he becomes disillusioned with the Islam he has learned, discovers an authentic Christianity that he had not known existed, and converts to Orthodoxy. Even as he retains a certain respect for for his former religion, his comparisons of Islam and Orthodoxy Christianity are vivid and compelling. Drawing on his own life-experience, he shows us Islamic faith and practice from within, indicating point by point its differences from the Orthodox Christian faith.
A short biography about the life and conversion of Fr. Seraphim Rose was written by his Godfather years ago and never published. It provides a glimpse into the life and character of Eugene Rose before his conversion including his reaction to Orthodoxy when he first encountered it and the profound influence that St. John of San Francisco had on his life.
Biographical information on the early life of Fr. Seraphim Rose is rare and this welcome reflection helps us understand Fr. Seraphim more, particularly as Americans who have experienced the cultural milieu that shaped and formed the early early Eugene Rose and that he would analyse with prescient depth after he became a monastic.
Archbishop Sergius (Korolev) of Prague (1881-1952) was born in Moscow, but spent the defining years of his life (1922-1946) in Prague where he unified the Russian émigré community and courageously served daily molebens throughout the German occupation. The central theme that runs throughout his pastoral writings is that of spiritual life in the world: “The cultivation of the inner man is done not in the world of astounding podvigs, but in everyday life.” He believed that it was especially through interpersonal relationships, especially within the family, that salvation must be sought: “All of life is in people’s interpersonal relationships,” he wrote. “We have to illumine them with the light of Christ’s Truth. We have to find the hidden treasure in every heart.” “Man was created for happiness,” he tells us, “and only through everyday victories can he obtain joy and a state that brings light to everyone and to himself.”
Even as we bask in the light of Christ’s Holy Resurrection, we begin to look ahead to Pentecost, to the Fire of the Holy Spirit coming down from above, giving us a new, true center. This is crucial in a darkening era obsessed with monsters, with the strange, with aliens, with the marginal, with things that do not fit. In a nihilistic world that is losing its center, where zombies wander aimlessly, we discover the icon of St Christopher, himself often portrayed monstrously with the head of a dog, yet as carrying Christ Himself. St Christopher reveals a bridge to the very ends of the earth, over which the Light of Christ and the Fire of the Holy Spirit can be carried further into the darkness than we ever thought possible.
Far from being enemies or correctives of each other, ecumenism and phyletism are two sides of the same coin of secularism. Both deny the catholicity of the One Church and both seek to recognize in its place a "divided" Church, whether it be along ethnic or denominational lines. Both reduce the Church to the sociological and historical level. Speaking much of love, each in their own way (for nation or world), both are revealed as bereft of love for his neighbor's salvation, for they leave him in his delusion and error, the one by erecting an ethnic roadblock, the other denying him the narrow path.
Man sentenced God to death; but by His Holy Resurrection, God sentenced man to immortality. In return for a beating, He gives an embrace; in return for abuse, a blessing; for death, immortality. Man never showed so much hate for God as when he crucified Him; and God never showed more love for man than when He arose. Man even wanted to reduce God to a mortal, but God by His Resurrection made man immortal. By the Resurrection of the God-Man, human nature has been led irreversibly onto the path of immortality, and has become dreadful to death itself.
With this text, Another City inaugurates a new feature of our journal, in which we offer the reader substantial portions (typically chapters) of books (many of them recently published) that we believe hold a particular importance for Orthodox Christians. Here, thanks to St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, we encounter one of the most important but strangely neglected saints and devotional writers of Russian Orthodoxy, St Dimitri of Rostov.
St Vladimir’s Seminary Press has inaugurated its new series, “Treasures of Orthodox Spirituality,” with this sparkling introduction to the very distinctive spirituality of St Dimitri of Rostov (1651-1709), a figure whose eloquence earned him during his lifetime the title “Russia’s Chrysostom.”
Our Lord Jesus Christ was met not as a king of earthly glory, but as a spiritual King. They shouted to Him, “Hosanna!”, which means “save us”. They saw in Him a Savior and leader toward higher glory.
Each one of us can be a friend of God, as Lazarus was called, and in each one of us this friend of God once lived. And then in the process of living, as a flower fades, as the forces of life, hope, joy, purity dwindle, so the strength of the Lord’s friend dwindles, and many a time we feel as though he is lying as in a coffin somewhere inside us.
As Holy Week approaches and we prepare ourselves both spiritually and physically for a demanding time of salvific drama and cosmic triumph, we offer a truly heavenly rendition of the “Cherubic Hymn” by Anatoly Grindenko and the Russian Patriarchate Choir, taken from their sublimely beautiful album “Suprasl.”
For the Virgin was not like the earth, which contributed to the creation of man but did not bring it about, for it merely offered itself as matter to the Creator and was only acted upon and did not do anything. But those things which drew the Artificer Himself to earth and which moved His creative hand did she provide from within herself, being the author thereof.
The Fifth Sunday of Lent normally commemorates St Mary of Egypt, once a harlot in sixth century Alexandria, but by the grace of God, one of our most endearing and enduring saints.
As we approach the Feast of the Annunciation, we may recall the words of the Troparion for the feast: “Today is the beginning of our salvation, the revelation of the eternal mystery! The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin.” That is, Christ becomes incarnate as fully man at the time of His conception, and so too did each one of us become fully man at the time of our own conception.
Remember, Christian soul, that the ascent to heaven is indispensable for anyone who wishes to save his soul unto eternity. Our Lord Jesus Christ said: “Strive to enter in through the narrow gate.” That is, the Christian ought to be an ascetic. Not only the monastic, but every Christian.
The Ladder of Divine Ascent is a powerful and foundational work of Orthodox asceticism and it is one of the few universal classics of world spirituality. It is the inspiration from a renowned icon, pictured along with this article, and it lent its name to its author, St John of Sinai, more commonly known as St John Climacus or St John of the Ladder.
Just as the body of the Lord was sanctified through the Cross, so our own bodies are sanctified, along with our relationship with the world and the world itself. The Cross is the power of Christ that, if we adopt it, can bring the world to paradise. It is the cleansing force of the universe.