Saturday, March 17, 2018

Priest Dimitry Shishkin

In our time, many laypeople ask the question: Why should people of the twenty-first century act according to rules written by monks and for monks in deep antiquity?. Why should they read monastic books in which there isn’t even a remote mention of the problems that we face today?.
Here it is, the fourth Sunday of Great Lent, dedicated to a monk who lived one and a half millennia ago. Just how relevant are the writings of St. John, abbot of Sinai, to the twenty-first century?. Could there really be something of value?. 

“Asceticism irritates and even angers some people, because it disrupts the momentary comfort that doesn’t want to know anything about eternity.”
Priest Dimitry Shishkin, rector of the Church of the Protection of the Mother of God in the village of Pochtovoe, Bakhchesar region (diocese of Simferopol, Crimea). 

The main problem of our times is man’s loss of understanding of his higher calling. More and more the idea is spreading in the world that the meaning of human life consists in living here, on earth, with the maximum comfort and happiness. And by happiness is meant some average set of emotional-physical joys and conveniences. Having “waved away” the ascetical experience collected by the Church over the centuries, man handicaps himself, makes his life catastrophically truncated,  because he rejects help in the most difficult and most important work- discovering the fullness of love and harmony with God. Moreover, having completely immersed himself in emotional-fleshly life, man completely loses the true concept of spiritual life. He may even know about it from books, can think about it and discuss it, but no more than that. This is because the living experience of discovering the grace of the Holy Spirit, the experience of growing in the knowledge of God is acquired in no other way than by “love for the very venerable commandments and sacredly fulfilling them.” Without this experience, eternal grace-filled life becomes a certain culturological fact, and nothing more.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Father Sophrony Zakharov… Love to the point of self-hatred.
Archimandrite Zacharias (Zacharou).

God revealed Himself as the One who Is, initially to Moses in the Person of His Son. Subsequently, during His sojourn in the flesh, He showed that the content of His Hypostasis is love, and what is more, love “unto the end” [john 13:1; d. also 15:10-15]. This revelation is, according to the Apostle’s word, “the great mystery of our faith” [1 Tim. 3: 16].
The incarnation of the Son of God “explains” to us the person­-hypostasis. In the flesh He assumed, the Son and Word of God manifested the true dimensions of His Person and of His selfless love. “He first loved us” [1 John. 4:19], and first saved the impious man freely by what He wrought as a servant. “As a servant, because He did not want to frighten guilty mankind and therefore violate man's freedom. He showed that His love is absolute, yet also humble beyond description. “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us” [Rom.5:8].
Man was created in God’s image and after His likeness. Hence, man is a person and reflects his prototype, God. However, to attain to the final perfection of the hypostatic principle for which God destined him, man has to reach the fullness of divine love. He too is expected to express by his work, as a servant - by repentance and humility,  his gratitude for the saving work of Christ, to respond with love to His love and to be fulfilled as a person by emulating His example and His life.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

“Le Printemps de l’âme”.
Métropolite Stephanos de Tallinn.

"...Moi, je t'ai connu au désert, dans un pays de fièvre" (Osée 13.5)
Un jour trois ascètes décidèrent de choisir chacun un mode de vie différent:
          - Le premier choisit de faire la paix parmi ceux qui se battent.
- Le deuxième se mit à visiter les malades.
- Le troisième gagna le désert.
Peu de temps après, le premier, n’arrivant pas à ses fins, vint, découragé, trouver le deuxième qui lui aussi, était à bout.
Tous deux décidèrent alors de se rendre auprès de celui qui avait opté pour l’hésychia au désert. Ils furent étonnés de sa réussite et l’assaillent de questions. Ce dernier commence par se taire puis il prit un vase, le remplit d’eau. « Regardez cette eau, leur dit-il, combien elle est troublée. » Puis, après un bout de temps, il leur dit encore : « voyez maintenant cette même eau et comment elle s’est reposée». Et là, comme dans un miroir, ils virent distinctement leur visage. Il leur dit alors : « Il en est de même par rapport à nous : lorsque nous vivons au milieu des hommes, nous ne voyons pas nos défauts, alors qu’il en est tout autrement dans le désert. »