Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sickness and death of children

   God does sometimes call children to martyrdom or all martyric suffering in their lives. A child's illness is a trial of faith and endurance for all concerned, not least the parents. They have to bear it while at the same time strengthening their child and his brothers and sisters. God's Providence for the sanctification of His children is always a blessing, but sometimes the blessing comes heavily disguised.  
   Sick children are often imbued with faith and wisdom beyond their years - in many cases, beyond their parents’ own faith too. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them” [Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16]. If we are able to do this, they, and we too, will grow. The ill child is often the teacher, keeping our trust in the Lord alive even while our hearts bleed.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

La théologie des offices liturgiques
en l'honneur du Précurseur

Mural dans l'église de
Saint Jean le Baptiste - Douma - Liban
   En nous penchant de près sur les textes liturgiques composés pour ces solennités en l'honneur de saint Jean le Baptiste nous pourrons juger de la place de la figure du Précurseur dans la théologie orthodoxe. Nous nous proposons d'analyser quelques expressions relevées de manière non exhaustive dans l'hymnographie byzantine de ces fêtes.
   L'Ange du Christ
   L'hymnographie byzantine parle du Précurseur comme de "l'Ange du Christ" ou de "l'Ange de Dieu". Ces deux expressions synonymes, jouant sur le terme grec "άγγελος" signifiant à la fois ange et messager, font écho à la prophétie de Malachie, reprise dans l'Évangile de Matthieu, où le Seigneur affirme:
   J'enverrai mon messager (mon ange) devant ta face, qui préparera ta voie devant toi (Mal 3,1; Mt 11,10).
   Selon les paroles du Christ lui-même (Mt 11,10), c'est de Jean le Baptiste qu'il s'agissait dans ce passage.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Abesses Paisia and Magdalena of Sevsk Convent.

   We are recounting here the story of two disciples of Saint Macarius of Optina (+ 1860).

   “Mother Paisia” was born in 1740, and in 1779 became Abbess of the “Sevsk Convent”, not far from Optina. She was an outstanding abbess, quite influential in her neighboring area. She kept the Convent under strict surveillance, upholding in it the principles of monastic life. It was once visited by Elder Athanasius of Ploschansk (the disciple of Saint Paissius Velichkovsky), together with his disciple Macarius of Optina and Elder Basil Kishkin, the restorer of Glinsk Monastery. This visit left a deep impression on the sisters of the Convent, influencing them to read the writings of the Holy Fathers. Even young girls read these writings, learning The Ladder of Divine Ascent almost by heart. During Elder Athanasius' lifetime, Elder Macarius was made the official spiritual father of the Sevsk Convent. There were several very holy nuns in this Convent, some of them virtual saints.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

On Saints and Divine Love

   How great and how many are the athletes of virtue, the saints and with which crowns they are decked, is clearly demonstrated by the accounts written on them. Even if they don’t contain all their contest, yet even a few suffice to show the character of the life they have lead. It is not by wearing away all the gold that is applied to it but by being rubbed against a little of it that a stone shows to be a good coin or bad. Likewise in the case of an archer, one could learn accurately from the discharge of only a few arrows whether he uses the bow well, hitting the target, or if he shoots outside, being unpractised in the skill. It is possible in the same way too to test the other men of skill, not to mention them individually: athletes, runners, actors of tragedy, pilots, shipwrights, doctors, peasants, and, in a word, all the others who put their hand to some skill; for slight experiment is sufficient to prove the skill of those with knowledge and convict the ignorance of those who adopt the mere name. Therefore, as I said, the recording of even a few of the achievements of each one is sufficient to teach their whole purpose in life. It is our present task to examine, inquire, and discover exactly from what impulse they embraced this way of Life, and by what thoughts they attained the very summit of philosophy; for that it was not through confidence in the strength of the body that they became enamored of what is beyond human nature, transcended the limits imposed on it, and jumped beyond the bounds fixed for contestants in piety, experience is a clear teacher.