Thursday, July 25, 2013
St. Xenia of St. Petersburg, the Fool-for-Christ and Wonderworker
We follow with an account by a resident of France, who was benefited by the Saint in our days.
A French dentist with a private clinic in Paris was injured in a car accident and had to stay in hospital for a few days.
Roman Catholic by creed, but indifferent to the faith, he watched as the patient next to him, a Russian émigré, would pray in the evenings in the ward, and would laugh behind his back.
Since the Russian’s lengthy prayers were repeated for as many days as he remained there, the dentist saw fit to make fun of the praying man, and he joked around with those from the other rooms.
After that first evening of making fun with the others, it was impossible for him to fall sleep.
Suddenly, the door to the ward opened and a woman appeared, wearing men’s clothing and holding a cane in her hand.
St. Xenia of St. Petersburg, wearing the army jacket of her departed husband
She was heading towards his bed. He was startled. Unknown facial features. A sweet, strange face.
“What do you want, lady? I don’t have any change. Who let you in here?”
“I came to tell you,” she said to him, as she lifted her cane, “to stop ridiculing Yuri, who is praying, because you will remain here a long time yet, and will seek his prayers....”
And indeed. Over the following days, he was diagnosed with serious cardiac insufficiency and remained three months in the hospital.
Yuri visited him at one point, and when the Frenchman revealed his vision to him, he began to tell him about St. Xenia and Orthodoxy.
Today, the Frenchman is an active member of the French Orthodox community and Baptized his newborn baby girl with the name Xenia last December, in honor of the Saint and in memory of his miraculous conversion.
Icons of Elders Paisios the Athonite and Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia: two spiritual giants of the 20th century (though not yet officially canonized)
A spiritual meeting between Elders Paisios and Porphyrios
Elder Porphyrios relates: Once on the Holy Mountain, I was traveling by tractor with Fr. Paisios. The two of us were saying the [Jesus] prayer mystically. Our souls were united. At a certain point, he got off and we continued. Oh, then you should have seen it! As he was leaving, he rushed towards me and embraced me noetically. You should have seen this unification of souls. You can love others spiritually, and embrace them and feel them, though they are still far away.
Λοιπόν, αυτό είναι το μυστικό. Πως θα μπορέσει κανείς να γυρίσει; Εκεί που τον έχει καταλάβει κάτι κακό, να σκεφτεί κάτι άλλο.
Είναι λίγο δύσκολο, αλλά όταν προετοιμαστεί... Προετοιμασία είναι η ταπείνωση, ε! αυτό είναι.
Τέτοιοι άνθρωποι καταθλιπτικοί, νευρικοί, στενόχωροι δεν δέχονται, δεν δέχονται να τους θίξεις, να τους πεις, αυτό θα το κάνεις έτσι.
Μα δεν μπορώ, το λέει η επιστήμη. Βρε, του λέω, κάντο καημένε και ας το λέει η επιστήμη.
Πες: Εγώ θα κάνω υπακοή στο Γέροντα.
Ξόδεψε, λοιπόν, τα χρήματά σου, για να έχεις τα πάντα δικά σου. Όπως εκείνος που ελέγχεται από τη συνείδησή του για τη διάπραξη παρανομιών, είναι ταλαίπωρος, έτσι κι εκείνος που έχει καθαρή τη συνείδησή του, ακόμα κι αν φοράει κουρέλια ή παλεύει με την πείνα, είναι πιο εύθυμος απ' αυτούς που ξεφαντώνουν.
Τα χρήματα τα έχεις για ν' ανακουφίζεις από τη φτώχεια, όχι για να διαπραγματεύεσαι με τη φτώχεια. Εσύ, όμως, δανείζοντας χρήματα με τόκο στον φτωχό συνάνθρωπό σου, του ετοιμάζεις μεγαλύτερη συμφορά.
Κάνε αυτή τη συναλλαγή, δεν σε εμποδίζω, αλλά για τη βασιλεία των ουρανών. Ως αντάλλαγμα της βοήθειας, που προσφέρεις, μην πάρεις τόκο, αλλά την αιώνια ζωή. Γιατί γίνεσαι μικρολόγος και χάνεις κάτι τόσο μεγάλο για λίγα χρήματα, που χάνονται; Γιατί αφήνεις το Θεό και επιδιώκεις το κέρδος;
Γιατί παραβλέπεις τον πλούσιο Κύριο και κυνηγάς τον φτωχό άνθρωπο; Ο Κύριος θα σου ανταποδώσει κάθε ευεργεσία που κάνεις, ενώ ο άνθρωπος στενοχωριέται, όταν επιστρέφει ό,τι του δάνεισες.
Αυτός δύσκολα σου δίνει και το ένα εκατοστό από τα δανεικά, ενώ Εκείνος εκατονταπλάσια σου ανταποδίδει και την αθανασία σου χαρίζει. Αυτός σου δίνει τα δανεικά με βαρυγγώμια και βρισιές, ενώ Εκείνος σου ανταποδίδει τις αγαθοεργίες με επαίνους και εγκώμια.
Αυτός νιώθει για σένα μίσος, ενώ Εκείνος σου ετοιμάζει με αγάπη στεφάνια δόξας. Αυτός απρόθυμα σου δίνει σ' αυτή τη ζωή ό,τι σου χρωστάει, ενώ Εκείνος πρόθυμα σου δίνει και σ' αυτή τη ζωή και στην άλλη όσα δεν σου χρωστάει.
Αγιος Ιωάννης ο Χρυσόστομος
On the path from nonbeing to All-being, man travels through God’s miraculous mysteries adorned in wondrous forms of created matter and spirit. The further he is from nonbeing and the closer to All-being, the hungrier he becomes for deathlessness and sinlessness, the thirstier for changelessness and eternity. But sin oppressively pulls him toward nonbeing and, through death, greedily robs the soul. Life’s entire wisdom is to defeat nonbeing within and without, and to submerse oneself fully in All-being. This wisdom is taught by the philosophy of the Holy Spirit; it is wisdom and knowledge—indeed, it is the grace-filled wisdom and grace-filled knowledge concerning the nature of being, the focus of which is knowledge of things divine and human, of things visible and invisible. The philosophy of the Holy Spirit is at the same time the moral creative force which, through man’s becoming like God by way of ascetic, grace-filled advancement, multiplies his divine understanding of God, the world and humanity. This ethical character of Orthodox philosophy is emphasized by St. John Damascene when he says, “Philosophy is the making of one’s self like God (όμοιοΰσθαι θεώ),” and as a result, “it is the art of arts and the science of sciences (τέχνη τεχνών και επιστήμη επιστημών).”2 As the life-creating philosophy of the Holy Spirit, it is the only art capable of fashioning a God-like and Christ-like person out of the diverse and complex human being; and as the science of the Holy Spirit, it is the only science capable of teaching the self-absorbed and mortalized creature called man how to defeat death and obtain immortality. That is why Orthodox philosophy is the art of arts and science of sciences.
The philosophy of the Holy Spirit is made of eternal truths about God, the world, and man, which in the evangelical language of the Church are called dogmas. Therefore, Dogmatics is the philosophy and science of God’s eternal truths, which have been revealed to man so that they may become incarnated in people’s lives and fulfill the eternal meaning of people’s existence—their arduous voyage from nonbeing to All-being. But it is obvious that contemporary man’s sense of immortality and eternity is paralyzed, and that his knowledge of the eternity and divine-humanity of everything human is darkened. Having been lulled to sleep and taken captive by metaphysical and ethical relativism, contemporary man usually ends in an all-encompassing nihilism. When one awakens from the nightmarish sleep of relativism . but merely detects the miraculous reality of the eternal and death-one always finds within oneself power to take wing and soar to-rd the eternal truth concerning the world and man. The instant me eternal problem arises in mans soul, he immediately experiences terrible and unquenchable yearning for eternal truth. Then the mer-less feelings of hunger and thirst for knowledge hound him through ae desert of life toward the oasis where eternal truths grow, and where prings of living water murmur smoothly into eternal life. In this new disposition, man transforms himself into a yearning arrow traveling toward that which is deathless and eternal, divine and holy. He is heading from things human to things divine-human. And if divine life flows into his soul by way of God’s truths, within him thrives life—deathless and eternal—because life and truth, eternal life and eternal truth, are one and the same in their divine-human reality. I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), proclaimed the wondrous Lord Jesus, because only in Him are these three one and of one essence; while outside of Him there is neither a way to the eternal, nor truth about the eternal, nor life in the eternal. That is what makes His Divine-human Person unique and irreplaceable. In everything belonging to Christ, this indivisible trinity reigns: the way, the truth, and the life. In every dogma of the Lord Christ these three are always one and indivisible, because each dogma is a path leading through eternal truth into eternal life. That is why in dogmas everything is infinity, immortality, and eternity, and nothing is transient, mortal, or fictitious.
Eternity and God-manhood are the one and only category of New Testament life and thought; hence dogmas as everlasting truths are al-ways eternal and divine-human. Energizing his thinking by a grace-filled, evangelical life, man steadily ascends from one eternal truth to the second, from the second to the third, and so forth, through countless others, toward the peak of all peaks, finally fulfilling r,-:- Ki»inei me pleroma of his existence, knowledge and
‘-~rU—tnat \s the password to evangelical, divine-human, anu v^.. eternal truths of Christ, the Orthodox man graauiuv knowledge, his will, his sentiments, and his life from everything corrupt, ephemeral, relative, and mortal. Immersing himself in everything holy, everlasting, absolute, and eternal, he revives himself. Through a grace-filled ascetic struggle he thoroughly conquers the sin-loving, self-absorbed and anthropocentric old man within, in the name of the God-man Who is always sinless, alive in God, centered in God. In his joyous striving towards the God-man, the Christ-yearning man grows in thought and life, descends to all depths, and expands into all expanses—so thoroughly does he grow with God toward divine-human heights (which are beyond reach of the relativist-nihilistic understanding), where the wonder-working Lord Jesus is all in all for our thought, soul, feeling, and life.
The mystery of the Truth is neither in things, nor in ideas, nor in symbols, but in the Person, namely the Divine-human Person of the Lord Christ—I am the Truth. The all-perfect Truth: never diminished, never changing, always one and the same in perfect fullness, always one and the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). The Truth: always eternal, even within time; always infinite, even within the finite; always immortal, even within the mortal. All other truths originate from this Truth as rays from the sun; that is why they are also eterna! and immortal. In fact, all dogmas constitute one and only one Truth the God-man Lord Christ. They all lead to Him because they original from Him; they all lead to Him just as every ray of sunshine leads » the sun. If man would only begin to follow to its source the tru about the good, then he would inevitably come to the Lord Christ, Creator and Origin. If he follows the truth of righteousness, again h< inevitably led to the Lord Christ as its Source and its Creator. If h searching for the truths of life, of the world, of eternity, of love, off fection, of charity, of grace, of joy, of humility, of hope, of prayer, c faith—he always comes to the Lord Christ as the only Source and ator. He who is led by Orthodox philosophy feels and compreh
with all his being that there is nothing relative either on this side of the grave or the other; with his entire soul and throughout his life’s strug-gles, trials, and experiences, he flows into infinity and eternity—Christ’s infinity and eternity.
Eternal dogmatic truths are neither abstract concepts, nor syllogistic conclusions, nor logical hypotheses. Rather, they are events and ex-periences with historic immediacy and reality, because they have been proclaimed, revealed, seen, heard, and have occurred in space and time among people. For example, the dogma of the Holy Trinity is an eternal truth, proclaimed to the world through many Old Testament and New Testament prophecies, events, and experiences; the dogma of the God-man Christ is founded on the historic existence of the God-man Jesus of Nazareth; the dogma of the Resurrection is the historic fact of the Resurrection of Christ. What applies to these dogmas, applies to all other dogmas, since all of them, from the first to the last, are established on historic reality—testified by eye-witnesses without any doubt. If a person considers without bias the content and the meaning of the dogmas of the New Testament, he will have to realize that all of them represent, and also are, divine and divine-human facts occurring within the limits of time and space. People may not be able to comprehend them, but they cannot dispute them. It is a reality that the stubborn opponents of God deny the facts themselves, even when they see them with their own eyes. The Pharisees are classic examples of this and are the prototype of all Pharisees of all times. They dispute and negate facts simply because they are facts, because they do not want facts to be facts, and they try with all their might to transform facts into hypotheses, into illusions, into fictions.
Dogmatics is a mosaic of its own kind. It sorts and classifies eternal dogmatic truths according to their attributes and according to the light that they emit, so that, within the mosaic of these eternal truths, the image of Christ is obtained, which is actually the full image of the Rev-elations of both the Old and New Testaments. Dogmatic truths are in all their aspects divine, limitless, boundless, and eternal, since they originate from the limitless, boundless, and eternal God. By their nature they cannot have their provenance from man, and they cannot be according to man. Here the human being does not create, because hu-mans do not have in themselves the powers and forces to create eternal and limitless truths, but rather they receive them from God in their finished form. Human creativity in this respect consists in accepting the eternal dogmatic truths in faith and transforming them into one’s own life, thinking, and feeling through grace-filled evangelical struggles, thus achieving holiness and perfection. In this respect the Holy Fathers are the living incarnation of eternal dogmatic truths. They are the possessors of the holy dogmatic truth, and as such they are its preachers and confessors. An Orthodox dogmatician must go to the saints for all dogmatic truths and learn from them, not forgetting that communication with them is only achieved by means of prayer, fasting, and vigil. It follows that the work of the Orthodox dogmatician is ascetical and diverse. It is an ascetic struggle primarily because the Orthodox man learns from the saints by means of holy struggles in prayerful reverence and awe before the bearers of God’s eternal truths. In the introduction to his dogmatic discourse An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, St. John Damascene established, once and for all, the guiding principle for Orthodox dogmaticians: “I shall say nothing of my own, but I shall set down summarily things which have been said in various places by wise and godly men.” In quoting these words of the great and holy theologian, I remain in my unworthiness and lowliness, and I hardly dare say that I used the same principle in my work. I also add with fervent sincerity that in respect to him, St. John Damascene, and to all the Fathers of the Church—the philosophers of the Holy Spirit—I remain deaf and dumb. I only stammer out (oh, if I could only recite clearly!) God’s eternal truths taken from the great Fathers, great in holiness and wisdom, and primarily from the wonderful musician of holy truths, St. John Damascene. If anything in this work of mine is good, evangelical, and Orthodox, it belongs to him and them, and everything that is contrary belongs to me and only me. I
have also learned much from the more recent great dogmaticians: Met-ropolitan Macarius, Bishop Sylvester, and Metropolitan Anthony. In my work I have also considered the works of other Orthodox dogmaticians of recent times: Archbishop Philaret, Archimandrite Anthony, Protopresbyter Malinovsky, Zikos Rosis, Androutsos, Dyovouniotis, and Protopresbyter Stevan Veselinovich.
I have to make special mention that I was sometimes forced in my humble efforts to create new dogmatic terminology which we lacked,3 or which, if it existed, had not been completely worked out.
The first volume of Dogmatics includes everything up to Christol-ogy. The rest—from Christology to eschatology—I will publish, if God allows, soon.
The Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, The Year of Our Lord 1932 Hieromonk Justin.
St Justin Popovich