Monday, November 30, 2009

Homily of St. John Chrysostom on the Holy Apostle Andrew

By Saint John Chrysostom

Strong is the net used by the apostles to fish, wondrous the memory of Andrew, and marvelous the commemoration of the net he employed to catch the nations and to lead them to faith in Christ! The seine of those deathless mortals, the apostles, can never be torn by forgetfulness, nor can time destroy their fishing tackle, made not by the art of man but by the grace of God. The fishermen themselves have departed from us, yet neither their gear nor the sweep-net with which they ensnared the world have fallen into decay. They cast and pull in their net invisibly, but the net is clearly seen to be full. They do not make use of a rod that time decays, nor do they let down into the water flaxen cord, which rots with time. No hook that rusts away have they fashioned; no bait have they prepared for a hook with which to catch fish. They do not sit upon a rock washed by waters, nor in a ship that may be sunk by a tempest do they sail. Indeed, it is not fish, by nature irrational, that they catch. Astonishing are the methods of which they make use; new and previously unseen their gear. With them, preaching replaces the rod; their recollections of Christ, the fishing-line; the might of grace, the hook; miracles, bait; and the heavens, from which they cast their line, the rock at the water's edge. Their ship is the holy altar; instead of fish, their catch is kings. They do not spread a net but the Gospel. Their work is guided by divine grace, not by the rules of the fishing trade. They are not helmsmen of ships on the sea but men's guides in life; and the seine, the sweep-net they always employ, is the Cross.

Who has ever seen fisherman from the dead catch living men like fish? O, great is the power of the Crucified One! Wondrous is the beauty of the divine! Mighty are the deeds of the Apostles! Nothing in this life is as great and lofty as the grace given them!

The history of mankind has seen much that is marvelous and surpasses understanding; it has seen spilt blood cry, murder call out as though with a tongue, nature divided and turned against itself in jealousy, brother slay a brother born of the same womb, and the door of death opened by rancor. It has seen Noah's ark remain afloat while the whole world was submerged by the flood and the human race destroyed. It has seen an old man, because of his faith, arm himself against his own son, the offspring of his loins, and take him to sacrifice, although the son was not put to death. It has seen a blessing stolen and God the Creator wrestle with His servant. It has seen envy arise between brethren and slavery lead to dominion over a kingdom. A throne it has seen prepared by a dream and those who betrayed their brother compelled by famine to return to him. It has seen a rod work miracles and a bush covered with flames as if with dew. It has seen Moses the lawgiver give commands to nature. It has seen water made hard as a rock, the bottom of the sea laid bare, a path suddenly opened, and a pillar of cloud by day and one of fire by night serve as guides for a host of people. It has beheld a rod blossom, although the rod was not planted in the earth, and seen manna given as bread from heaven. It has seen the sun halted in its course by a man's prayers and a prophet conceived through the supplications of a barren woman. It has seen a handful of meal made greater than the contents of a granary and a cruse of oil steam forth more abundantly than a spring. It has seen a chariot ascend through the air, carrying away a prophet, and the bones of the dead become a life-giving potion. The history of mankind has seen many great and marvelous things, but all of them pass away and are extinguished like a lamb put out at the rising of the sun. Never has there been anything or anyone like the apostles.

As servants of God the Word, they touched the Incarnate One, Who as God has no form. They followed after Him Who is everywhere present and reclined with Him Who cannot be contained in any place. They heard the voice of Him Who created the world by a word, and caught the world with their tongues as if with nets. Their travels took them to the ends of the earth. Error they rooted up like thistles, and they levelled heathen places of sacrifices like thorns cut down to the ground. They utterly destroyed idols as if they were wild beasts, and drove off demons as though they were wolves. They assembled their flock, the Church, and gathered in the Orthodox like a crop of wheat. But heresies they cast away like tares, while they caused Judaism to whither up like grass and destroyed paganism as if by fire, reducing it to ashes. The Cross was the plough with which they cultivated human nature, and they sowed on that ground the seed of the word of God.

Their deeds shone like the stars; therefore the Lord said of them, "You are the light of the world" (Matt. 5). The eastern horizon is for the Christian man the Lord, born of a Virgin; morning, Him Who gave an example to all by being baptized. The light of the sun is the grace of Christ crucified; its rays the wondrous tongues of fire that appeared at Pentecost. Morning is the age to come; midday, the time when the Lord hung on the Cross. The western horizon is the grave; evening, death, which quickly passes away at the rising of the sun, the resurrection of the dead. "Ye are", it is said, "the light of the world." Let us gaze upon these stars and marvel at their brilliance!

When Andrew, whom we commemorate today, found the Lord of all, he cried to his brother Peter, "We have found the Messiah!" (Jn. 1) O brotherly love that surpasses measure! O good reversal of nature's order! Andrew was born after Peter, but it was he who lead Peter to the Gospel, catching him by the word, "We have found the Messiah!" Joyfully did he exclaim these words:

"We have found a treasure!" Andrew cried. "Flee, O Peter, the poverty of circumcision; strip yourself of the ragged cloak of the Law, and cast off the yoke of its written ordinances. Count all things temporal as of little importance. Regard your present life as a dream, and flee Bethsaida, the wretched dwelling of outcasts. Forsake your nets, the gear of impoverished men; your boat, refuge from deluge; fishing, an occupation for times of flood; fish, gluttony's merchandise; the people of the Jews, a nation ever in revolt against God; and Caiaphas, the father of a rebellious nation. 'We have found the Messiah' Whom the prophets foretold and Whose coming the Law heralded like a trumpet. We have found the treasure hidden in the Law. Flee, O Peter, the famine of the written statutes! 'We have found the Messiah', foreshadowed in ancient wonders, Whom Micah beheld sitting upon a throne of glory, Whom Isaiah saw surrounded by seraphim, Whom Ezekiel saw amid the cherubim, Whom Daniel beheld sitting upon the clouds, Whom Nebuchadnezzar saw in the furnace, Whom Abraham received in his tent, Whom Jacob would not release until he had received his blessing, Whose back parts Moses beheld as he stood upon a rock. We have found Him Who was begotten before time and appeared in the last times. Great is this treasure, which can never be exhausted! The riches thereof are not subject to the laws of nature; they exist eternally although they are newly revealed. 'We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.'"

Many were they whom God anointed, but all were subject to death. Abraham He anointed, but he moulders in the grave; Isaac He also anointed, but his bones lie in a sepulchre. Jacob He anointed, but he was mortal, and Moses as well, whose body lies in a place known to no one. David was also anointed, but like the others he was death's prey. All alike were captives of death. Only Christ is by nature God. Yet in His compassion He became man, leaving sealed the virginal womb from which he appeared and making of fisherman springs of healing; for His are dominion and the kingdom, and unto Him, together with His blameless and consubstantial Father and the Holy Spirit, are due glory and worship, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

This homily by Chrysostom is to be found in St. Symeon Metaphrastes' "Lives of the Saints".

Cypriot Greeks and Turks Honor the Apostle Andrew

Today, for the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, hundreds of Cypriot Greeks and Turks went to the Monastery of the Apostle Andrew to celebrate the Divine Liturgy with Bishop Christophoros of Karpasia. Turks also were in attendance out of veneration for the Apostle and seeking miraculous cures - something for which this Monastery is well known. One Turk was interviewed saying that he made a vow to the Apostle Andrew to heal his son. The Cypriot Greeks say that Turks come to the Monastery quite often because many miracles are acknowledged and sought by them.

The Askesis of Patriarch Pavle

by Yuri Maksimov

I have never personally seen Patriarch Pavle, although I have heard about him for a long time. I first visited Serbia in fall 2006. I very much wanted to see His Holiness, especially because, from what I knew, he was normally completely accessible. It was not that I expected to have an audience, but I hoped simply to look with my own eyes at a holy man of our time and receive his blessing, and this alone would be a joy. But this did not happen. In the fall of 2006 his health worsened, and in my later visits it grew still worse. I was clearly unworthy of seeing His Holiness, Pavle.

While in Serbia I heard many remarkable stories about him from trustworthy people, which I would like to share. His Holiness, Patriarch Pavle, is a unique phenomenon for our times; therefore, of course, it would be pointless to make him the measure for other patriarchs, just as it would be, for example, to make St Philaret the Merciful or St Alexei the Man of God the measure for the majority of contemporary laypeople. Everyone has his own standard and his own kind of podvig. It seems to me that one should simply rejoice that in our lifetime such a person was and is in the Orthodox Church.

It is well known that the Serbian Patriarch, even when taking up his high-ranking position, continued his ascetic podvigs and strove to live modestly – although for him this was all quite natural, without any deliberate affectation. He went around town by foot or took regular public transportation, among the throngs of people, was not acquisitive, and ate as little as the ancient desert fathers – simply because that was the way he was.

Mrs Jana Todorovic told me a story that concerned her sister. She was at a reception at the Patriarch’s for some reason. Discussing business, she happened to look at the Patriarch’s feet and was shocked at the sight of his shoes: they were old, had been torn and then repaired. The woman thought: “How shameful for us Serbs, that our Patriarch has to go around in broken shoes; couldn’t somehow give him some new shoes?” The Patriarch said joyfully: “Look at what good shoes I have! I found them near the garbage cans when I went to the patriarchate. Someone had thrown them away, but they are real leather. I darned them a little bit and, look, they can still serve a long time.”

Another story is connected with these same boots. A certain woman came to the patriarchate with the request to speak with the Patriarch concerning an urgent matter, about which she needed to speak with him personally. This request was unusual and she was not immediately admitted, but the visitor’s persistence bore fruit, and an audience took place. Seeing the Patriarch, the woman said with great excitement that that night she had dreamed of the Theotokos, who told her to take money to the Patriarch so that he could buy himself new shoes. Saying this, the visitor took out an envelope full of money. Patriarch Pavle, not taking the envelope, responded affectionately: “At what time did you lay down to sleep?” The woman, surprised, asked: “Well… around eleven.” “You know, I lay down later, around four in the morning,” the Patriarch responded, “and I also dreamed of the Theotokos, who asked me to tell you to take the money and give it to those who really need it.” He did not take the money.

Once, approaching the patriarchate building, His Holiness, Pavle, noticed many cars near the entrance and became interested in whose they were. He was told that these cars belonged to bishops. To this the Patriarch replied with a smile: “If they, who know the Savior’s commandment about unacquisitiveness, have such cars, just imagine what kind of cars they would have if there this commandment did not exist!”

Once the Patriarch was flying somewhere on a visit. While they were flying over the sea the airplane went into a zone of turbulence and began to shake. A young bishop who was sitting next to the Patriarch asked what he would think if the airplane were to fall. His Holiness, Pavle, replied calmly: “With regard to myself personally, I would take this as an act of justice: I’ve eaten so many fish in my life that it would be no surprise if they were to eat me now.”

It would not be a bad idea to cite a passage from a conversation between Nikolai Kokukhin and Deacon Neboisha Topolic:

“By God’s mercy we have such a spiritual pastor as His Holiness, Patriarch Pavle… He leads an ascetic life and is a living example of an evangelical pastor. He lives in Christ in the full sense of this word… As an Orthodox monk he fasts, that is, does not eat meat, and keeps a very strict fast on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays… He serves the Liturgy every morning in a small chapel in the building of the patriarchate. There is no choir there, and only parishioners sing…

“He vests himself before the service and unvests after the service, he Confesses and Communes parishioners himself. He has worn the same riasa and cassock from the time of his tonsure to the angelic order (and this was fifty years ago). He does not replace them. He washes, irons, and mends them himself. He prepares his own food. Once he told me that he had made himself a pair of good boots out of women’s boots. He has all the instruments for fixing boots; he himself can fix any shoes. He frequently serves in different churches, and when he sees that a priest has a torn riasa or phelonion, he says to him: 'Bring it, and I’ll fix it'… Being around such a person is a great benefit for the education of the soul, for spiritual growth.”

For all this, Patriarch Pavle is a doctor of theology (he received this before becoming Patriarch), and is the author of several books: a monograph on the Monastery of St Joannicius of Devich and the three-volume To Clarify Certain Questions of Faith, several selections of which have recently appeared in Russian translation.

Patriarch Pavle is now in his 95th year. Due to his poor health he has been in the hospital for some time. The Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church now performs the functions of ecclesiastical administration. Patriarch Pavle has repeatedly requested to be retired for reasons of health, but the last Council of Bishops decided that he will remain the spiritual head of the Serbian Church until his very death. Patriarch Pavle was very close to the people, and the people loved him very much. He is a unique figure even for the Serbian Church and the next Patriarch, of course, will be different.

Predrag Miodrag, who knows the Patriarch well, taken from another short article about His Holiness, said the following:

He is very accessible. When his sister was alive he frequently walked to her house by foot. He in general like to go about by foot, without an escort. Anyone can approach him and speak with him. He receives visitors every day at his residence. People go to him with their needs and their small questions, and he finds a comforting word of consolation for each of them.

He gets up very early and, when everyone is still sleeping, he serves the Liturgy, praying for the entire Serbian people. All Serbia is in his heart. He is small in stature, but great in spirit. He has thin fingers, but when he forms these fingers into the sign of the cross legions of demons flee; he wears thin cotton vestments, but beneath these vestments is hidden the soul of a brave warrior. The people say: "This is our angel, who protects and defends us."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Priest-Martyr Fr. Daniil Sysoev with his Family

Saint Philoumenos the New Hieromartyr of Jacob's Well (+ 1979)

St. Philoumenos the New Hieromartyr of Jacob's Well (Feast Day - November 16/29)

"On November 16/29, 1979 they burst into the monastery and with a hatchet butchered Archimandrite Philoumenos in the form of a cross. With one vertical stroke they clove his face, with another horizontal stroke they cut his cheeks as far as his ears. His eyes were plucked out. The fingers of his right hand were cut into pieces and its thumb was hacked off. These were the fingers with which he made the sign of the Cross."

The holy martyr of the 20th century, Philoumenos the Cypriot, came from the village of Orounta of the province of Morphou. From a young age he along with his brother Elpidios were apprenticed in the sacred letters of Christ by their grandmother. They mainly studied the lives of the Saints and hymns of the Church. The Saint at the time, along with his brother, left for the Monastery of Stavrovouni and stayed there for five years. Afterwards, they both left for Jerusalem. Saint Philoumenos stayed in Jerusalem for 46 years. The Saint found a martyric death by fanatic Zionist Jews who massacred him in the evening while he was doing vespers at the Well of Jacob where he lived, a loyal guardian of the Holy Places and traditions of centuries.

The Church of Cyprus and especially the Holy Metropolis of Morphou today celebrate the memory of the martyr Saint Philoumenos the New, the Cypriot. The neomartyr was born in 1913 and was a child of George and Magdalene Hasapi or Ourountioti , and the twin brother of Archimandrite Elpidios. Even though his parents come from the village of Orounta of the metropolitan area of Morphou, they lived at the parish of St. Savvas in Nicosia, since his father had his own inn and bakery there. Together with his brother Elpidios, they showed a particular enthusiasm for prayer and read the lives of the Saints, particularly they where touched by the life of Saint John the Kalyvitis, who in some way made an impact on them, to the point of desiring to follow the life of monasticism. Also, apart from their mother, their grandmother Loxantra, had in particular influenced them in learning the ways of the Church and in developing a truly Orthodox conscience. At the age of 14, the two brothers left for the Monastery of Stavrovouni and then left for Jerusalem, where they attended High School there. After they finished High School in 1939, Elpidios served as a priest in different places and died on 29 November 1983. Philoumenos remained in Jerusalem and in 1979 was appointed as caretaker of the Monastery of Saint Jacob's Well. While living there, on November 29, 1979, during the time when the Saint was doing vespers, he was murdered by Zionist Jews with an ax.

The week before, a group of fanatical Zionists came to the Monastery of Jacob's Well, claiming it as a Jewish holy place and demanding that all crosses and icons be removed. Of course, the Saint pointed out that the floor upon which they were standing had been built by Emperor Constantine before 331 A.D. and had served as an Orthodox Christian holy place for sixteen centuries before the Israeli State was created, and had been in Samaritan hands eight centuries before that. (The rest of the original church had been destroyed by the invasion of the Shah Khosran Parvis in the seventh century, at which time the Jews had massacred all the Christians of Jerusalem.) The group left with threats, insults and obscenities of the kind which local Christians suffer regularly. After a few days, on November 29, during a torrential downpour, a group broke into the monastery; the saint had already put on his epitrachelion for Vespers. The piecemeal chopping of the three fingers with which he made the Sign of the Cross showed that he was tortured in an attempt to make him deny his Orthodox Christian Faith. His face was cloven in the form of the Cross. The church and holy things were all defiled.

The body of the Saint was handed over to the Orthodox six days after his massacre, but retained its flexibility and was buried in the cemetery of Mount Zion. After four years, as is customary, his body was exhumed. It was found to be substantially incorrupt and had the smell of a beautiful fragrance. Then, the tomb was closed and was reopened during the Christmas of 1984, when the body was found to be partially incorrupt and was placed in a glass shrine in the northern part of the sacred Holy Altar in Mount Zion.

Hieromartyr Philoumenos was ranked among the Saints of the Church of Jerusalem on 30 August 2008, and hence then, his incorrupt body was transferred at the pilgrimage site of Saint Jacob's Well where he found martyrdom for the love of Christ. His memory is honored annually on November 29, especially in the community of Orounta with an all night long church service.

To see a Supplication Service to St. Philoumenos conducted before his holy relics, see here.

Apolytikion in Tone One
The offspring of Orountas, and from the root of Cyprus, and new Hieromartyr of the divine Well of Jacob, O faithful let us honor Philoumenos as a defender of our faith, and as an eternal soldier of Christ’s truth, we fervently cry out: glory to Christ Who glorified you, glory to Him Who kept you incorrupt, glory to Him who revealed you as our benefactor towards heaven.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Vanquisher of demons, dispeller of the powers of darkness, by thy meekness thou hast inherited the earth and reignest in the Heavens; intercede, therefore, with our Merciful God, that our souls may be saved.

Does the Church of Greece Own Vast Amounts of Property?

On October 25 the above report was aired on Greek TV news NET which exposes the myth that the Church of Greece holds vast amounts of property in Greece. This report was done to answer a great number of critics of the Church of Greece, who believe it is a scandal for the Church to hold such vast amounts of property which supposedly can play a significant role in helping the economy of Greece if the Church sold its property.

What is the truth?

1. The number of acres belonging to Public Property = 43,598,000 acres; to Local Self-Government = 15,553,200; to the Church = 1,292,300; to various Associations = 1,098,400.

2. Of the 1,292,300 acres belonging to the Church of Greece, they are divided among the following: 367,000 are forested expanses; 735,300 are grazing ground; and only 190,000 acres are good for farming.

3. Of the 190,000 acres that are good for farming, 53% are in mountainous or hill zones - 75% of which is dry land.

4. Calculating these equations, this means that only 0.48% of the land of Greece is good agricultural land which belongs to the Church of Greece. The government has 34 times more property than the Church of Greece.

5. It is commonly believed by ecclesiastical hierarchs in Greece that whatever property the Church does own and is usable should be used for the common good of the people of Greece. This it tries to uphold.

6. One example that shows such characteristics is the Monastery of Petraki in Athens, which was granted a large amount of property (the largest ecclesiastical property in Athens) in the 17th and 18th century. Within their ownership they have established 142 schools in Attica, the orphanage of Vouliagmeni, the University of Athens, Maraslios Academy, PIKPA Voulas (Pentelis Protection of the Unborn Child Association), the National Library, Rizareios School, Metsovio Polytechnic, the Police Academy of Mesogeion Street, Sotiria Hospital, and Evangelismos Healing Center.

7. It should also be mentioned that the Church of Greece does pay taxes, with the government even now trying to tax the Church as a "charity" organization rather than a "social" institution, as was always done. See more here, here and here. The question here is whether or not the Church should pay for government corruption. Plus, with the Church earning little more than 7 million euros profit in 2008, even if taxed at 100%, would this really affect the economy of Greece all that much? Is it worth closing down dozens of programs the Church implements to help the people of Greece with this money?

Interviewed in the video are Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos, Metropolitan Ignatios of Dimitriados, Metropolitan Nicholas of Fthiotidos.

More On the Rising Cult of Ayn Rand

In three previous posts I have attempted to bring attention to the fact of Ayn Rand's rising popularity, especially among American Conservatives. See the following links for this information:

The Cult of Ayn Rand is Re-emerging

Has Modern Conservatism Become a Cult?

Ayn Rand and the American Right

To add to these posts, I would also like to submit the following articles that I found worth reading to better familiarize yourself with this influential figure within our contemporary context:

Ayn Rand Goes Mainstream

The Real Rogue Warrior: Ayn Rand, Not Sarah Palin

Ayn Rand: Conservative Heroine?

Ayn Rand's Conservative Call Echoes Today

Yet I am aware that most people do not know who Ayn Rand is nor the principles behind her Objectivist philosophy. The following are good overview sources:

Ayn Rand: Wikipedia

Objectivism: Wikipedia

I highly recommend the following interview conducted by Mike Wallace with Ayn Rand in 1959. It really hits at the essence of her "selfish" philosophy in the words of the philosopher herself. Part One is here:

For the rest of this excellent interview, see Part Two and Part Three.

Evidence that Ayn Rand plays a significant role among the American Right is evident in at least two of the more vocal Conservative voices in America - Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Both have often cited Ayn Rand as a prophetic voice of our times.

Rush Limbaugh has been documented on various sites citing Ayn Rand. See here, here and here.

Glenn Beck also has cited Rand numerous times, and sometimes can be seen on his television program holding up Atlas Shrugged like a Bible, so impressed is he with her economic philosophy. See also this interview he did with Yaron Brook, the Executive Director for the Ayn Rand Center on 02/17/09:

The Tea Party revolts of the Conservative Right have become intertwined with the Going Galt Movement. What is the Going Galt Movement and what does this have to do with Ayn Rand? Read the following along with a video below:

‘Going Galt’: Everyone’s Doing It!

“Going Galt” and the next Tea Party wave

Who is John Galt and What is the Going Galt Movement?

A few days ago FOX News even allowed an opinion piece titled Why Ayn Rand Still Resonates to be published. This article also reveals the growing popularity of Ayn Rand not only among the youth, but adults as well.

Not only are Conservatives influenced by Rand on the political level, but on the business level her Capitalist ideals are very appealing as well. The following two videos show her influence in this capacity. The first is produced by the Ayn Rand Institute and the second is a lecture by businessman Ed Snider, one of the founders of the Ayn Rand Institute.

Ayn Rand's philosophy is full of contradictions and unrealizable utopian ideals that it could take pages to properly critique her Objectivist philosophy and the role it could play in society through religion, politics, economics, education, morality, and other such things. To look into these critiques, I highly recommend one study the links on the following webpage, which present both personal criticisms of Ayn Rand as well as criticisms of her "Objectivist Movement".

There are also two new biographies which expose the persona and ideology of Rand which can be read about in the following review:

How Ayn Rand Became an American Icon: The perverse allure of a damaged woman

It is worth noting that although many Conservatives today endorse Ayn Rand's books, she herself would likely have critiqued them for their own political philosophies. Evidence of this can be seen on the following video she made in 1961:

One more proof how much of an INDIVIDUAL Ayn Rand desired to be.

Death of Patriarch Pavle Brings Controversies Into Spotlight

By Vesna Peric Zimonjic

BELGRADE, November 23, 2009 (IPS) - It is not often that anything in Serbia can bring several hundred thousand people together, but that is exactly what happened Thursday when the Patriarch Pavle, head of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC), was buried in a monastery graveyard near Belgrade.

The Patriarch, aged 95, died four days earlier, on Nov. 15, after spending two years at the Military Medical Academy of Belgrade in fragile health.

The immediate reaction from top Serbian officials, such as President Boris Tadic and Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic was that they felt like "a member of our family died." They had regularly "consulted the Patriarch before any major political decision of importance for Serbia."

Four days of official mourning were proclaimed and Serbia stood still until the Patriarch’s funeral. As his body lay in the open casket in the downtown Cathedral Church of St. Michael Archangel, many thousands of mourners came to kiss the hand of "the holy man," as he was known among ordinary people, due to his modest and humble way of life.

All the recent polls say that 95 percent of Serbs declare themselves Orthodox Christians - with the influence of the SPC both on people but also on politics becoming impressive since the 1991 disintegration of former Yugoslavia.

But the death of the Patriarch, with all the expressions of public grief, solemn radio and television programmes - with presenters wearing the traditional black mourning clothes - could not prevent the brewing of controversy. The controversy surrounds the SPC itself and the Patriarch himself, since his coming to "the throne"- as his post is commonly called - in 1990.

"He was ‘a holy man’ due to his humble, simple and modest life," Belgrade University professor and analyst Zarko Korac told IPS. "But the set of events surrounding the SPC and Pavle, rouse controversy on the role of SPC in the wars of the 90s and the constitutionally secular state of Serbia now plunging into the arms of the church - with the accent of the importance of the patriarch and religion in general."

Korac was referring to the behaviour of the SPC during the wars of disintegration of the former Yugoslavia that led to deaths of more than 100,000 people - most of them Bosniak Muslims. The wars were waged between Muslims, Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs.

Patriarch Pavle came to "the throne" in 1990, before the wars started. Neither Pavle, nor his church and priests did much to change the direction of aggressive and hard-line nationalism.

The SPC priests blessed the cannons that shelled the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo for three and a half years from 1992 as well as the Kalashnikovs used to kill Muslims around Srebrenica in 1995, according to video taken at the time.

Priests have also played an active role in Serb volunteer units that committed numerous war crimes in Croatia and Bosnia, with the mantra of "defending the Orthodox Serbs from being eradicated by Catholic Croats and Muslims."

The SPC under Pavle has failed to distance itself from the Srebrenica massacre - where 8,000 Muslims were killed - or any other war crimes committed by Serbs who claimed to be devout Orthodox Christians.

"It is now important to see who will come next to "the throne," Korac stressed.

One of the most prominent analysts of religious matters in Serbia, Zivica Tucic, told Belgrade B92 Radio that "the choice of the next patriarch is of major importance for Serbia."

According to the church canons, the next patriarch will be elected in May next year, when the next session of all its archbishops and bishops is due to be held.

In the meantime, Archbishop Amfilohije, a prominent conservative and nationalist clergyman, has already been appointed to temporarily act as the patriarch.

"It is not only the matter of who it will be," Tucic said. "Serbia is at a turning political point - whether to continue its policy towards joining the European Union (EU) or to give up to those conservative circles that prefer the nation to remain turned toward itself."

Serbia is hoping to begin its process of joining the EU by the end of the year. This has been the political ambition of the nation ever since former wartime leader Slobodan Milosevic fell from power in 2000.

The only remaining pre-condition for such a move is the handing over of Ratko Mladic, a Bosnian Serb general accused of the massacre in Srebrenica by the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. He has been in hiding since 1995, but top Serbian officials have hinted that he might be arrested by the end of the year.

"We need a patriarch that will be a visionary," Tucic said. "It should also be good that the Patriarch be a Serb from Serbia, who knows the mentality and events in Serbia proper."

He was referring to the fact that the strongest nationalists among the archbishops and bishops are those who came from Bosnia and Croatia into Serbia during the wars of the 90s - fanning nationalism and intolerance towards other ethnic groups from former Yugoslavia.

Although hundreds of thousands of Serbs from those areas have found refuge in Serbia proper since the 90s, the groups deeply differ in mentality and attitudes, which are the sources of frequent tensions between newcomers and Serbs in Serbia proper.

Serbia now has a population of 7.4 million, where more than a million people are non-Serbs - such as ethnic Hungarians in the northern Vojvodina province, Bosniak Muslims in the Sandzak region near Kosovo border, and ethnic Albanians in the Presevo valley in the south.

"We are also witnessing now the effort of state to influence events in the SPC," Belgrade university professor Vladimir Ilic told IPS. "The regime has turned the death of the patriarch and the funeral into the a state and non religious event. The President of Serbia attended the session of the Synod (the SPC government) the other day, which is all without any constitutional basis. This brings into doubt the constitutional regulation that Serbia is a secular country."

Critics of the SPC, stress that the church is too conservative, too turned to traditional values and ways of life that have nothing to do with modern life.

"The church says women belong to homes, they are here to bear children, take care of family, be modest and humble and without any influence whatsoever on the everyday modern life," sociologist Zorica Milenkovic told IPS.

"That is something coming from 17th and not 21st century. Regardless of what the SPC did or did not do in the 90s, it is essential that it now see that many centuries have passed and that life has changed," Milenkovic explained. "It is not mere or insubstantial politics it has to deal with. It is the challenge of modern times that have to be explained to the people in the appropriate way, and that is where the new head of the SPC might have an important role."

A History of 20th Century Russia, Warts and All

Professor Andrei Zubov speaks about the current religious situation in Russia.

Published: November 24, 2009
New York Times

A new two-volume history of Russia’s turbulent 20th century is being hailed inside and outside the country as a landmark contribution to the swirling debate over Russia’s past and national identity.

Written by 45 historians led by Andrei Zubov, a professor at the institute that serves as university to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the weighty history — almost 1,000 pages per volume — was published this year by AST Publishers and is already in its second printing of 10,000 copies.

Retailing at the rough equivalent of $20 a volume and titled “History of Russia. XX Century,” the books try to rise above ideologically charged clashes over Russia’s historical memory. They are critical both of czarist and Communist Russia, and incorporate the history of Russian emigration and the Russian Orthodox Church into the big picture of a chaotic, violent century. While written from a clearly Christian perspective — one author is a Russian Orthodox priest — the history avoids overt nationalism or anti-Semitism.

Eminent historians in the United States and Poland who often take a critical view of Russia’s passionate, partisan discussion of history lauded its balance.

“Nothing like it has ever been published in Russia,” Richard Pipes, the Harvard University Sovietologist, wrote in an e-mail message, noting that he was trying to raise money for a translation and publication in English. “It is a remarkable work: remarkable not only for Russia but also for Western readers. For one, it has gotten away from the nationalism so common in Russian history books, according to which the Russians were always the victims of aggression, never aggressors.”

Mr. Pipes noted that it made extensive use of Western sources — rare in Russia — and praised its attention to often overlooked questions of the role of morals and religious beliefs.

Others offered similar praise.

“This is one of the most important books that came to us from Russia in the past 20 years,” said Andrzej Nowak, a historian from Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. In an e-mail message, he praised “the exemplary way” it treated sensitive topics like the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact; the wartime agreement between Hitler and Stalin; the Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939; and the mass murder of Polish officers at Katyn.

Perhaps no issue today consumes Russians of all stripes like the debate about what Russia was, is and will be. Much as their president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, urges the need for modernization, Russians are fixated on the past, and on a quest to unite and explain, somehow, the contradictions and violence of czarist and Communist rule.

The latest manifestation of this came this month with the release of “Tsar,” a film by the director Pavel Lungin. In violent detail, it retells the 16th-century story of Ivan the Terrible and his conflict with a pious monk, and it has invited comparison to Stalin and his complicated relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, and with society over all.

An unusual combination of two priests, two journalists, a former government-minister-turned-writer and a reality-television show host recently gathered in central Moscow to hash out opinions about “Tsar.”

Ksenia Sobchak, the celebrity host of a Russian TV version of “Big Brother” and daughter of the mayor of St. Petersburg who oversaw its renaming from Leningrad in 1991, embraced the role of political and religious affairs commentator with a gusto that underscored how the history debate touches many.

Complex dictatorial rulers like Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great and Stalin have a seductive hold over Russians, Ms. Sobchak said, “because I think authority in our country always strives to deify itself, and generally succeeds.”

By contrast, Professor Zubov used a recent presentation of his work at a Roman Catholic cultural center to emphasize that Russians needed to make up their own minds about history, and not adopt the latest spoon-fed version.

“It’s not necessary to wait for Putin, Medvedev and United Russia to make a decision to vote in the Duma,” he said. “We’re the citizens of this country. We’re its main subject. We’re not an object. We’re the subject.”

The two volumes, with their hard truths, could serve as a “textbook for repentance,” he suggested.

Mr. Zubov added that the book, which he said had been financed by people who preferred not to be named, appeared after two of Russia’s top television executives, Oleg Dobrodeyev and Aleksandr Kulistikov, approached him at the recommendation of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who died in 2008.

“The moment has come to say finally whether we are with the Soviet Union and all of its deeds, or whether we are victims of the Communist regime and, correspondingly, reject its deeds as alien to us,” Mr. Zubov said in an interview in his book-lined Moscow apartment. “This moment has come and we can no longer turn our back on it.”

Georgy Mitrofanov, an Orthodox priest and academic who wrote some sections of the book devoted to the Russian Orthodox Church, said a re-evaluation of history could not solve Russia’s problems. “We are too late,” he said.

Aleksandr Arkhangelsky, a television host and columnist for RIA Novosti, a state news agency, has interviewed Father Mitrofanov and Mr. Zubov on air, and suggested that the intensifying discussions of history bode fresh turbulent times.

“Society is not satisfied,” Mr. Arkhangelsky said at the presentation. “It is looking for an answer to the question: Who were we? in the future, or to the question: Who will we be? in the past. This means that very serious times await us, because in Russia historical mass consciousness becomes acute on the eve of major changes.”

Saturday, November 28, 2009

America's Greatest Warrior - A Marine - Speaks Out

(The most decorated Marine in American History)


WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.

Again they are choosing sides. France and Russia met and agreed to stand side by side. Italy and Austria hurried to make a similar agreement. Poland and Germany cast sheep's eyes at each other, forgetting for the nonce [one unique occasion], their dispute over the Polish Corridor.

The assassination of King Alexander of Jugoslavia [Yugoslavia] complicated matters. Jugoslavia and Hungary, long bitter enemies, were almost at each other's throats. Italy was ready to jump in. But France was waiting. So was Czechoslovakia. All of them are looking ahead to war. Not the people – not those who fight and pay and die – only those who foment wars and remain safely at home to profit.
There are 40,000,000 men under arms in the world today, and our statesmen and diplomats have the temerity to say that war is not in the making.

Hell's bells! Are these 40,000,000 men being trained to be dancers?

Not in Italy, to be sure. Premier Mussolini knows what they are being trained for. He, at least, is frank enough to speak out. Only the other day, Il Duce in "International Conciliation," the publication of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said:

"And above all, Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace... War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have the courage to meet it."

Undoubtedly Mussolini means exactly what he says. His well-trained army, his great fleet of planes, and even his navy are ready for war – anxious for it, apparently. His recent stand at the side of Hungary in the latter's dispute with Jugoslavia showed that. And the hurried mobilization of his troops on the Austrian border after the assassination of Dollfuss showed it too. There are others in Europe too whose sabre rattling presages war, sooner or later.

Herr Hitler, with his rearming Germany and his constant demands for more and more arms, is an equal if not greater menace to peace. France only recently increased the term of military service for its youth from a year to eighteen months.

Yes, all over, nations are camping in their arms. The mad dogs of Europe are on the loose. In the Orient the maneuvering is more adroit. Back in 1904, when Russia and Japan fought, we kicked out our old friends the Russians and backed Japan. Then our very generous international bankers were financing Japan. Now the trend is to poison us against the Japanese. What does the "open door" policy to China mean to us? Our trade with China is about $90,000,000 a year. Or the Philippine Islands? We have spent about $600,000,000 in the Philippines in thirty-five years and we (our bankers and industrialists and speculators) have private investments there of less than $200,000,000.

Then, to save that China trade of about $90,000,000, or to protect these private investments of less than $200,000,000 in the Philippines, we would be all stirred up to hate Japan and go to war – a war that might well cost us tens of billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives of Americans, and many more hundreds of thousands of physically maimed and mentally unbalanced men.

Of course, for this loss, there would be a compensating profit – fortunes would be made. Millions and billions of dollars would be piled up. By a few. Munitions makers. Bankers. Ship builders. Manufacturers. Meat packers. Speculators. They would fare well.

Yes, they are getting ready for another war. Why shouldn't they? It pays high dividends.

But what does it profit the men who are killed? What does it profit their mothers and sisters, their wives and their sweethearts? What does it profit their children?

What does it profit anyone except the very few to whom war means huge profits?

Yes, and what does it profit the nation?

Take our own case. Until 1898 we didn't own a bit of territory outside the mainland of North America. At that time our national debt was a little more than $1,000,000,000. Then we became "internationally minded." We forgot, or shunted aside, the advice of the Father of our country. We forgot George Washington's warning about "entangling alliances." We went to war. We acquired outside territory. At the end of the World War period, as a direct result of our fiddling in international affairs, our national debt had jumped to over $25,000,000,000. Our total favorable trade balance during the twenty-five-year period was about $24,000,000,000. Therefore, on a purely bookkeeping basis, we ran a little behind year for year, and that foreign trade might well have been ours without the wars.

It would have been far cheaper (not to say safer) for the average American who pays the bills to stay out of foreign entanglements. For a very few this racket, like bootlegging and other underworld rackets, brings fancy profits, but the cost of operations is always transferred to the people – who do not profit.


The World War, rather our brief participation in it, has cost the United States some $52,000,000,000. Figure it out. That means $400 to every American man, woman, and child. And we haven't paid the debt yet. We are paying it, our children will pay it, and our children's children probably still will be paying the cost of that war.

The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits – ah! that is another matter – twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent – the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let's get it.

Of course, it isn't put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and "we must all put our shoulders to the wheel," but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket – and are safely pocketed. Let's just take a few examples:

Take our friends the du Ponts, the powder people – didn't one of them testify before a Senate committee recently that their powder won the war? Or saved the world for democracy? Or something?

How did they do in the war? They were a patriotic corporation. Well, the average earnings of the du Ponts for the period 1910 to 1914 were $6,000,000 a year. It wasn't much, but the du Ponts managed to get along on it. Now let's look at their average yearly profit during the war years, 1914 to 1918. Fifty-eight million dollars a year profit we find! Nearly ten times that of normal times, and the profits of normal times were pretty good. An increase in profits of more than 950 per cent.

Take one of our little steel companies that patriotically shunted aside the making of rails and girders and bridges to manufacture war materials. Well, their 1910-1914 yearly earnings averaged $6,000,000. Then came the war. And, like loyal citizens, Bethlehem Steel promptly turned to munitions making. Did their profits jump – or did they let Uncle Sam in for a bargain? Well, their 1914-1918 average was $49,000,000 a year!

Or, let's take United States Steel. The normal earnings during the five-year period prior to the war were $105,000,000 a year. Not bad. Then along came the war and up went the profits. The average yearly profit for the period 1914-1918 was $240,000,000. Not bad.

There you have some of the steel and powder earnings. Let's look at something else. A little copper, perhaps. That always does well in war times.

Anaconda, for instance. Average yearly earnings during the pre-war years 1910-1914 of $10,000,000. During the war years 1914-1918 profits leaped to $34,000,000 per year. Or Utah Copper. Average of $5,000,000 per year during the 1910-1914 period. Jumped to an average of $21,000,000 yearly profits for the war period.

Let's group these five, with three smaller companies. The total yearly average profits of the pre-war period 1910-1914 were $137,480,000. Then along came the war. The average yearly profits for this group skyrocketed to $408,300,000. little increase in profits of approximately 200 per cent.

Does war pay? It paid them. But they aren't the only ones. There are still others. Let's take leather. For the three-year period before the war the total profits of Central Leather Company were $3,500,000. That was approximately $1,167,000 a year. Well, in 1916 Central Leather returned a profit of $15,000,000, a small increase of 1,100 per cent. That's all. The General Chemical Company averaged a profit for the three years before the war of a little over $800,000 a year. Came the war, and the profits jumped to $12,000,000. a leap of 1,400 per cent.

International Nickel Company – and you can't have a war without nickel – showed an increase in profits from a mere average of $4,000,000 a year to $73,000,000 yearly. Not bad? An increase of more than 1,700 per cent.

American Sugar Refining Company averaged $2,000,000 a year for the three years before the war. In 1916 a profit of $6,000,000 was recorded.

Listen to Senate Document No. 259. The Sixty-Fifth Congress, reporting on corporate earnings and government revenues. Considering the profits of 122 meat packers, 153 cotton manufacturers, 299 garment makers, 49 steel plants, and 340 coal producers during the war. Profits under 25 per cent were exceptional. For instance the coal companies made between 100 per cent and 7,856 per cent on their capital stock during the war. The Chicago packers doubled and tripled their earnings.

And let us not forget the bankers who financed the great war. If anyone had the cream of the profits it was the bankers. Being partnerships rather than incorporated organizations, they do not have to report to stockholders. And their profits were as secret as they were immense. How the bankers made their millions and their billions I do not know, because those little secrets never become public – even before a Senate investigatory body.

But here's how some of the other patriotic industrialists and speculators chiseled their way into war profits.

Take the shoe people. They like war. It brings business with abnormal profits. They made huge profits on sales abroad to our allies. Perhaps, like the munitions manufacturers and armament makers, they also sold to the enemy. For a dollar is a dollar whether it comes from Germany or from France. But they did well by Uncle Sam too. For instance, they sold Uncle Sam 35,000,000 pairs of hobnailed service shoes. There were 4,000,000 soldiers. Eight pairs, and more, to a soldier. My regiment during the war had only one pair to a soldier. Some of these shoes probably are still in existence. They were good shoes. But when the war was over Uncle Sam has a matter of 25,000,000 pairs left over. Bought – and paid for. Profits recorded and pocketed.

There was still lots of leather left. So the leather people sold your Uncle Sam hundreds of thousands of McClellan saddles for the cavalry. But there wasn't any American cavalry overseas! Somebody had to get rid of this leather, however. Somebody had to make a profit in it – so we had a lot of McClellan saddles. And we probably have those yet.

Also somebody had a lot of mosquito netting. They sold your Uncle Sam 20,000,000 mosquito nets for the use of the soldiers overseas. I suppose the boys were expected to put it over them as they tried to sleep in muddy trenches – one hand scratching cooties on their backs and the other making passes at scurrying rats. Well, not one of these mosquito nets ever got to France!

Anyhow, these thoughtful manufacturers wanted to make sure that no soldier would be without his mosquito net, so 40,000,000 additional yards of mosquito netting were sold to Uncle Sam. There were pretty good profits in mosquito netting in those days, even if there were no mosquitoes in France. I suppose, if the war had lasted just a little longer, the enterprising mosquito netting manufacturers would have sold your Uncle Sam a couple of consignments of mosquitoes to plant in France so that more mosquito netting would be in order.

Airplane and engine manufacturers felt they, too, should get their just profits out of this war. Why not? Everybody else was getting theirs. So $1,000,000,000 – count them if you live long enough – was spent by Uncle Sam in building airplane engines that never left the ground! Not one plane, or motor, out of the billion dollars worth ordered, ever got into a battle in France. Just the same the manufacturers made their little profit of 30, 100, or perhaps 300 per cent.

Undershirts for soldiers cost 14¢ [cents] to make and uncle Sam paid 30¢ to 40¢ each for them – a nice little profit for the undershirt manufacturer. And the stocking manufacturer and the uniform manufacturers and the cap manufacturers and the steel helmet manufacturers – all got theirs.

Why, when the war was over some 4,000,000 sets of equipment – knapsacks and the things that go to fill them – crammed warehouses on this side. Now they are being scrapped because the regulations have changed the contents. But the manufacturers collected their wartime profits on them – and they will do it all over again the next time.

There were lots of brilliant ideas for profit making during the war.

One very versatile patriot sold Uncle Sam twelve dozen 48-inch wrenches. Oh, they were very nice wrenches. The only trouble was that there was only one nut ever made that was large enough for these wrenches. That is the one that holds the turbines at Niagara Falls. Well, after Uncle Sam had bought them and the manufacturer had pocketed the profit, the wrenches were put on freight cars and shunted all around the United States in an effort to find a use for them. When the Armistice was signed it was indeed a sad blow to the wrench manufacturer. He was just about to make some nuts to fit the wrenches. Then he planned to sell these, too, to your Uncle Sam.

Still another had the brilliant idea that colonels shouldn't ride in automobiles, nor should they even ride on horseback. One has probably seen a picture of Andy Jackson riding in a buckboard. Well, some 6,000 buckboards were sold to Uncle Sam for the use of colonels! Not one of them was used. But the buckboard manufacturer got his war profit.

The shipbuilders felt they should come in on some of it, too. They built a lot of ships that made a lot of profit. More than $3,000,000,000 worth. Some of the ships were all right. But $635,000,000 worth of them were made of wood and wouldn't float! The seams opened up – and they sank. We paid for them, though. And somebody pocketed the profits.

It has been estimated by statisticians and economists and researchers that the war cost your Uncle Sam $52,000,000,000. Of this sum, $39,000,000,000 was expended in the actual war itself. This expenditure yielded $16,000,000,000 in profits. That is how the 21,000 billionaires and millionaires got that way. This $16,000,000,000 profits is not to be sneezed at. It is quite a tidy sum. And it went to a very few.

The Senate (Nye) committee probe of the munitions industry and its wartime profits, despite its sensational disclosures, hardly has scratched the surface.

Even so, it has had some effect. The State Department has been studying "for some time" methods of keeping out of war. The War Department suddenly decides it has a wonderful plan to spring. The Administration names a committee – with the War and Navy Departments ably represented under the chairmanship of a Wall Street speculator – to limit profits in war time. To what extent isn't suggested. Hmmm. Possibly the profits of 300 and 600 and 1,600 per cent of those who turned blood into gold in the World War would be limited to some smaller figure.

Apparently, however, the plan does not call for any limitation of losses – that is, the losses of those who fight the war. As far as I have been able to ascertain there is nothing in the scheme to limit a soldier to the loss of but one eye, or one arm, or to limit his wounds to one or two or three. Or to limit the loss of life.

There is nothing in this scheme, apparently, that says not more than 12 per cent of a regiment shall be wounded in battle, or that not more than 7 per cent in a division shall be killed.

Of course, the committee cannot be bothered with such trifling matters.


Who provides the profits – these nice little profits of 20, 100, 300, 1,500 and 1,800 per cent? We all pay them – in taxation. We paid the bankers their profits when we bought Liberty Bonds at $100.00 and sold them back at $84 or $86 to the bankers. These bankers collected $100 plus. It was a simple manipulation. The bankers control the security marts. It was easy for them to depress the price of these bonds. Then all of us – the people – got frightened and sold the bonds at $84 or $86. The bankers bought them. Then these same bankers stimulated a boom and government bonds went to par – and above. Then the bankers collected their profits.

But the soldier pays the biggest part of the bill.

If you don't believe this, visit the American cemeteries on the battlefields abroad. Or visit any of the veteran's hospitals in the United States. On a tour of the country, in the midst of which I am at the time of this writing, I have visited eighteen government hospitals for veterans. In them are a total of about 50,000 destroyed men – men who were the pick of the nation eighteen years ago. The very able chief surgeon at the government hospital; at Milwaukee, where there are 3,800 of the living dead, told me that mortality among veterans is three times as great as among those who stayed at home.

Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to "about face"; to regard murder as the order of the day. They were put shoulder to shoulder and, through mass psychology, they were entirely changed. We used them for a couple of years and trained them to think nothing at all of killing or of being killed.

Then, suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another "about face" ! This time they had to do their own readjustment, sans [without] mass psychology, sans officers' aid and advice and sans nation-wide propaganda. We didn't need them any more. So we scattered them about without any "three-minute" or "Liberty Loan" speeches or parades. Many, too many, of these fine young boys are eventually destroyed, mentally, because they could not make that final "about face" alone.

In the government hospital in Marion, Indiana, 1,800 of these boys are in pens! Five hundred of them in a barracks with steel bars and wires all around outside the buildings and on the porches. These already have been mentally destroyed. These boys don't even look like human beings. Oh, the looks on their faces! Physically, they are in good shape; mentally, they are gone.

There are thousands and thousands of these cases, and more and more are coming in all the time. The tremendous excitement of the war, the sudden cutting off of that excitement – the young boys couldn't stand it.

That's a part of the bill. So much for the dead – they have paid their part of the war profits. So much for the mentally and physically wounded – they are paying now their share of the war profits. But the others paid, too – they paid with heartbreaks when they tore themselves away from their firesides and their families to don the uniform of Uncle Sam – on which a profit had been made. They paid another part in the training camps where they were regimented and drilled while others took their jobs and their places in the lives of their communities. The paid for it in the trenches where they shot and were shot; where they were hungry for days at a time; where they slept in the mud and the cold and in the rain – with the moans and shrieks of the dying for a horrible lullaby.

But don't forget – the soldier paid part of the dollars and cents bill too.

Up to and including the Spanish-American War, we had a prize system, and soldiers and sailors fought for money. During the Civil War they were paid bonuses, in many instances, before they went into service. The government, or states, paid as high as $1,200 for an enlistment. In the Spanish-American War they gave prize money. When we captured any vessels, the soldiers all got their share – at least, they were supposed to. Then it was found that we could reduce the cost of wars by taking all the prize money and keeping it, but conscripting [drafting] the soldier anyway. Then soldiers couldn't bargain for their labor, Everyone else could bargain, but the soldier couldn't.

Napoleon once said, "All men are enamored of decorations...they positively hunger for them."

So by developing the Napoleonic system – the medal business – the government learned it could get soldiers for less money, because the boys liked to be decorated. Until the Civil War there were no medals. Then the Congressional Medal of Honor was handed out. It made enlistments easier. After the Civil War no new medals were issued until the Spanish-American War.

In the World War, we used propaganda to make the boys accept conscription. They were made to feel ashamed if they didn't join the army.

So vicious was this war propaganda that even God was brought into it. With few exceptions our clergymen joined in the clamor to kill, kill, kill. To kill the Germans. God is on our is His will that the Germans be killed.

And in Germany, the good pastors called upon the Germans to kill the please the same God. That was a part of the general propaganda, built up to make people war conscious and murder conscious.

Beautiful ideals were painted for our boys who were sent out to die. This was the "war to end all wars." This was the "war to make the world safe for democracy." No one mentioned to them, as they marched away, that their going and their dying would mean huge war profits. No one told these American soldiers that they might be shot down by bullets made by their own brothers here. No one told them that the ships on which they were going to cross might be torpedoed by submarines built with United States patents. They were just told it was to be a "glorious adventure."

Thus, having stuffed patriotism down their throats, it was decided to make them help pay for the war, too. So, we gave them the large salary of $30 a month.

All they had to do for this munificent sum was to leave their dear ones behind, give up their jobs, lie in swampy trenches, eat canned willy (when they could get it) and kill and kill and kill...and be killed.

But wait!

Half of that wage (just a little more than a riveter in a shipyard or a laborer in a munitions factory safe at home made in a day) was promptly taken from him to support his dependents, so that they would not become a charge upon his community. Then we made him pay what amounted to accident insurance – something the employer pays for in an enlightened state – and that cost him $6 a month. He had less than $9 a month left.

Then, the most crowning insolence of all – he was virtually blackjacked into paying for his own ammunition, clothing, and food by being made to buy Liberty Bonds. Most soldiers got no money at all on pay days.

We made them buy Liberty Bonds at $100 and then we bought them back – when they came back from the war and couldn't find work – at $84 and $86. And the soldiers bought about $2,000,000,000 worth of these bonds!

Yes, the soldier pays the greater part of the bill. His family pays too. They pay it in the same heart-break that he does. As he suffers, they suffer. At nights, as he lay in the trenches and watched shrapnel burst about him, they lay home in their beds and tossed sleeplessly – his father, his mother, his wife, his sisters, his brothers, his sons, and his daughters.

When he returned home minus an eye, or minus a leg or with his mind broken, they suffered too – as much as and even sometimes more than he. Yes, and they, too, contributed their dollars to the profits of the munitions makers and bankers and shipbuilders and the manufacturers and the speculators made. They, too, bought Liberty Bonds and contributed to the profit of the bankers after the Armistice in the hocus-pocus of manipulated Liberty Bond prices.

And even now the families of the wounded men and of the mentally broken and those who never were able to readjust themselves are still suffering and still paying.


WELL, it's a racket, all right.

A few profit – and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it. You can't end it by disarmament conferences. You can't eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can't wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.

The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry and labor before the nations manhood can be conscripted. One month before the Government can conscript the young men of the nation – it must conscript capital and industry and labor. Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our munitions makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted – to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get.

Let the workers in these plants get the same wages – all the workers, all presidents, all executives, all directors, all managers, all bankers –

yes, and all generals and all admirals and all officers and all politicians and all government office holders – everyone in the nation be restricted to a total monthly income not to exceed that paid to the soldier in the trenches!

Let all these kings and tycoons and masters of business and all those workers in industry and all our senators and governors and majors pay half of their monthly $30 wage to their families and pay war risk insurance and buy Liberty Bonds.

Why shouldn't they?

They aren't running any risk of being killed or of having their bodies mangled or their minds shattered. They aren't sleeping in muddy trenches. They aren't hungry. The soldiers are!

Give capital and industry and labor thirty days to think it over and you will find, by that time, there will be no war. That will smash the war racket – that and nothing else.

Maybe I am a little too optimistic. Capital still has some say. So capital won't permit the taking of the profit out of war until the people – those who do the suffering and still pay the price – make up their minds that those they elect to office shall do their bidding, and not that of the profiteers.

Another step necessary in this fight to smash the war racket is the limited plebiscite to determine whether a war should be declared. A plebiscite not of all the voters but merely of those who would be called upon to do the fighting and dying. There wouldn't be very much sense in having a 76-year-old president of a munitions factory or the flat-footed head of an international banking firm or the cross-eyed manager of a uniform manufacturing plant – all of whom see visions of tremendous profits in the event of war – voting on whether the nation should go to war or not. They never would be called upon to shoulder arms – to sleep in a trench and to be shot. Only those who would be called upon to risk their lives for their country should have the privilege of voting to determine whether the nation should go to war.

There is ample precedent for restricting the voting to those affected. Many of our states have restrictions on those permitted to vote. In most, it is necessary to be able to read and write before you may vote. In some, you must own property. It would be a simple matter each year for the men coming of military age to register in their communities as they did in the draft during the World War and be examined physically. Those who could pass and who would therefore be called upon to bear arms in the event of war would be eligible to vote in a limited plebiscite. They should be the ones to have the power to decide – and not a Congress few of whose members are within the age limit and fewer still of whom are in physical condition to bear arms. Only those who must suffer should have the right to vote.
A third step in this business of smashing the war racket is to make certain that our military forces are truly forces for defense only.

At each session of Congress the question of further naval appropriations comes up. The swivel-chair admirals of Washington (and there are always a lot of them) are very adroit lobbyists. And they are smart. They don't shout that "We need a lot of battleships to war on this nation or that nation." Oh no. First of all, they let it be known that America is menaced by a great naval power. Almost any day, these admirals will tell you, the great fleet of this supposed enemy will strike suddenly and annihilate 125,000,000 people. Just like that. Then they begin to cry for a larger navy. For what? To fight the enemy? Oh my, no. Oh, no. For defense purposes only.

Then, incidentally, they announce maneuvers in the Pacific. For defense. Uh, huh.

The Pacific is a great big ocean. We have a tremendous coastline on the Pacific. Will the maneuvers be off the coast, two or three hundred miles? Oh, no. The maneuvers will be two thousand, yes, perhaps even thirty-five hundred miles, off the coast.

The Japanese, a proud people, of course will be pleased beyond expression to see the united States fleet so close to Nippon's shores. Even as pleased as would be the residents of California were they to dimly discern through the morning mist, the Japanese fleet playing at war games off Los Angeles.
The ships of our navy, it can be seen, should be specifically limited, by law, to within 200 miles of our coastline. Had that been the law in 1898 the Maine would never have gone to Havana Harbor. She never would have been blown up. There would have been no war with Spain with its attendant loss of life. Two hundred miles is ample, in the opinion of experts, for defense purposes. Our nation cannot start an offensive war if its ships can't go further than 200 miles from the coastline. Planes might be permitted to go as far as 500 miles from the coast for purposes of reconnaissance. And the army should never leave the territorial limits of our nation.

To summarize: Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket.

We must take the profit out of war.

We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war.

We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.


I am not a fool as to believe that war is a thing of the past. I know the people do not want war, but there is no use in saying we cannot be pushed into another war.

Looking back, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected president in 1916 on a platform that he had "kept us out of war" and on the implied promise that he would "keep us out of war." Yet, five months later he asked Congress to declare war on Germany.

In that five-month interval the people had not been asked whether they had changed their minds. The 4,000,000 young men who put on uniforms and marched or sailed away were not asked whether they wanted to go forth to suffer and die.

Then what caused our government to change its mind so suddenly?


An allied commission, it may be recalled, came over shortly before the war declaration and called on the President. The President summoned a group of advisers. The head of the commission spoke. Stripped of its diplomatic language, this is what he told the President and his group:

"There is no use kidding ourselves any longer. The cause of the allies is lost. We now owe you (American bankers, American munitions makers, American manufacturers, American speculators, American exporters) five or six billion dollars.

If we lose (and without the help of the United States we must lose) we, England, France and Italy, cannot pay back this money...and Germany won't.

Had secrecy been outlawed as far as war negotiations were concerned, and had the press been invited to be present at that conference, or had radio been available to broadcast the proceedings, America never would have entered the World War. But this conference, like all war discussions, was shrouded in utmost secrecy. When our boys were sent off to war they were told it was a "war to make the world safe for democracy" and a "war to end all wars."

Well, eighteen years after, the world has less of democracy than it had then. Besides, what business is it of ours whether Russia or Germany or England or France or Italy or Austria live under democracies or monarchies? Whether they are Fascists or Communists? Our problem is to preserve our own democracy.
And very little, if anything, has been accomplished to assure us that the World War was really the war to end all wars.

Yes, we have had disarmament conferences and limitations of arms conferences. They don't mean a thing. One has just failed; the results of another have been nullified. We send our professional soldiers and our sailors and our politicians and our diplomats to these conferences. And what happens?

The professional soldiers and sailors don't want to disarm. No admiral wants to be without a ship. No general wants to be without a command. Both mean men without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms. And at all these conferences, lurking in the background but all-powerful, just the same, are the sinister agents of those who profit by war. They see to it that these conferences do not disarm or seriously limit armaments.

The chief aim of any power at any of these conferences has not been to achieve disarmament to prevent war but rather to get more armament for itself and less for any potential foe.

There is only one way to disarm with any semblance of practicability. That is for all nations to get together and scrap every ship, every gun, every rifle, every tank, every war plane. Even this, if it were possible, would not be enough.

The next war, according to experts, will be fought not with battleships, not by artillery, not with rifles and not with machine guns. It will be fought with deadly chemicals and gases.

Secretly each nation is studying and perfecting newer and ghastlier means of annihilating its foes wholesale. Yes, ships will continue to be built, for the shipbuilders must make their profits. And guns still will be manufactured and powder and rifles will be made, for the munitions makers must make their huge profits. And the soldiers, of course, must wear uniforms, for the manufacturer must make their war profits too.

But victory or defeat will be determined by the skill and ingenuity of our scientists.

If we put them to work making poison gas and more and more fiendish mechanical and explosive instruments of destruction, they will have no time for the constructive job of building greater prosperity for all peoples. By putting them to this useful job, we can all make more money out of peace than we can out of war – even the munitions makers.
So...I say,


Warning: Do Not Pry Into God's Judgments!

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Submit yourself to the will of God and do not pry too closely into God's judgments, for you can lose your mind. The judgments of God are innumerable and unfathomable.

A monk in the wilderness, imagining that he had attained perfection, prayed to God that He would reveal to him His various judgments in the lives of men. God put the thought in his mind to go to a distant place to inquire of a spiritual elder concerning this.

However, while the monk was on his way, an angel of God in the form of an ordinary man joined him, saying that he too wanted to go to that elder. Thus traveling together, they came upon the house of a God-fearing man, who treated them well, giving them to eat from a silver platter. When they had eaten, the angel took the platter and threw it into the sea. The monk found this both amazing and unjust, but he remained silent.

The second day they came upon the house of another hospitable man who cordially received and treated them as kinsmen. Before leaving, that man brought out his only son for the travelers to bless. The angel of God then took the child by the throat and strangled him.

The monk was greatly angered and asked the angel who he was, and why he had committed such misdeeds. The angel meekly replied to him: "The first man was pleasing to God in all things and had nothing in his house that was attained by injustice except that silver platter. By God's judgment, I threw that stolen platter away, so that the man would be righteous before God in all things. The other man was pleasing to God and had nothing in his house that would bring down the wrath of God except his son, who - had he matured - would have become a great criminal and a demonic vessel. Therefore, by God's judgment, I strangled that child in time to save his soul, for the sake of his father's goodness, and to save the father from many miseries. Behold, such are the mysteries and the unfathomable judgments of God. And you, elder, should return to your cell and not strive vainly by inquiring into that which is in the authority of the One God."

Friday, November 27, 2009

Holy Great Martyr James the Persian

St. James (Jacob) the Persian (Feast Day - November 27)

James, the glorious Great Martyr of Christ, was from Persia. He lived during the years of the pious Kings Arcadius and Honorius, the sons of Theodosius the Great, who ruled in the year 395 A.D. He lived in Veethiavan of Persia, situated in the land of Elouzeesion. Then, Isdigerdis I and Bahram V, his son, ruled over the Persians. They were cruel and pitiless men. They forced the Christians (whomever they found) to worship, as they did, the senseless idols.

Now James was a lord of merit, notable and of good service to the nation. He was honored and beloved by all, as he was wealthy, knowledgeable and virtuous. Wherefore, he was considered first in the palace, and the king exceedingly loved him. He bestowed on him great importance and abundant gifts. So much did Isdigerdis and his son Bahram love James, that they did not wish to be separated even one hour from him. They displayed such favor, that they had him as a brother, for he was well-mannered and his family prominent. But this was so that they could cunningly lure him to impiety. For James was a Christian from childhood just as were his parents and wife, both pious and faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ. So, these villains tried hard to estrange him with gifts and gratuities. They chose to be good-natured and discreet, and to persuade him with benefits and flatteries, rather than with threats and torments. However, this marvelous James, who resisted at first, was defeated by the many generous favors of the ruler, and, alas!, he was captured. He denied the most sweet Christ and worshipped the demons, and became one in spirit with the king.

But do not frown; hearken and strengthen your heart, and attend to this. Because just as one drop of water drips continually onto the hard marble to perforate it, so also many gifts and favors are able to convert the gratified soul with ease and quickness; thus, did the ever-memorable one have the solid rock of his faith hollowed out. But listen to his end to receive exultation and joy, that God (Who foreknows and foresees) does not overlook but straightens the fallen and illuminates the way of the blind.

It was circulated around the land that James had denied Christ. This news came into the ears of his mother and spouse, who were wounded in their hearts upon hearing these unexpected words. Since they were not present to censure his tongue, they sent him a letter, saying thus:

"It was not proper to your nobility to exchange falsehood for the truth; to defraud the faith for the honor of men and temporary rewards, which pass by as a dream and disperse like smoke; and to love the perishable and temporary kingdom, and abandon immortality and eternity. For this violation you would elect to be cast into the inextinguishable fire and endless torment? You, who are unworthy of His love, denied Christ, in order to gain one worm-eaten man? O the mindlessness! What are you able to benefit by them, when you go together into torment? We have been greatly distressed by you and pour forth many tears and, with all our hearts, we pray to the true God not to desert you, as He is compassionate, but to receive your return. So recognize the mischief that you have created to become a son of darkness, instead of light, which you were formerly. Recover and revert again to godliness. And, if you do not repent speedily, know this: you no longer have any relation with us. But we wish to be as strangers and foreigners to you, and you will inherit nothing from us, so as to be completely separated from our society. Because not one particle has the light with the darkness, and the faithful with the faithless. So make a good return. Whereas, you departed badly; but the Master, Whom you denied, will receive you with open arms and rejoicing. If you disdain our advice and tears, when you reach the divine trial, you will be punished in torments endlessly and your crying will be in vain."

These things James read in the letter, and he remained in a stupor; indeed, as if from sleep and drunkenness, he was roused, realizing the treasure of faith of which he was destitute, and the evil of error into which he had tumbled. He cried bitterly and repented from his heart of the former things and beat his breast, lamenting and crying before the Master to forgive the iniquity, as He is compassionate. In imitation of Manasseh and Peter's repentance, he studied the Holy Scriptures and recalled the bitter punishments. He was not able to cease the tears, and it was evident he repented of his former impiety. Wherefore, certain idolators perceived and learned the reason for his disquiet. They betrayed him to the king. The king's heart was wounded on hearing such things. Infuriated, he summoned him for questioning and inquired if he were a Nazarene. James answered boldly and eagerly:

"Yes, I am a servant of my Lord Jesus Christ."

The king's rage grew, but he remembered their previous friendship, so he did not make a display or an outburst of anger. As in preceding times, he tested him with flatteries and by promising gifts; but at other times, with threats of hideous punishments and torments, to see, perchance, if he would waver. But the coward was not effective, because the saint thirsted for martyrdom.

The blessed James, in order to cause the tyrant to slay him quickly, answered him thus:

"In vain you labor, attempting with feeble means to sow wheat in the guff, or to hold back the winds in a net. In this way, it is not possible any longer to change my belief from piety. So then, lay aside all hope, so as not to conceal your wrath any more. Cut my body into pieces, punish, burn it, do with it as you will, but my soul you will not be able to turn to godlessness."

Again, the king tempted him with flatteries to ensnare him. Hiding his anger, he said to him with feigned love:

"James, pity your body, your blossoming manhood, remember our immeasurable friendship. Be not deprived of any worldly pleasures in this sweet life, in order to receive harsh pains and the bitterest death for these uncertain good hopes. I promise you that you will have wealth and power in my kingdom, greater than before. Yes, my beloved and dearest friend, I entreat you not to have contempt for our great friendship and appear before me ungrateful, because, if you disobey, it is necessary - although I do not want to - that you be taught a lesson. But do not think that I will be lenient later: no, it is not true, but I will change the love that I have for you now, into hatred that is commensurate with your disobedience. And I will deliver you to unheard of, horrible torments."

James boldly replied:

"O king, do not waste time importunely. Do not frighten me with torments, nor insincerely compliment me with tributes and gifts, because I despise from my heart all temporal enjoyments, empty glory, decaying riches and bodily sensuality, in order to inherit the true wealth and the honor, inexpressible delight and bliss. Wherefore, gladly I divest myself of wealth and glory, friends and relatives, mother, wife and all the pleasures of the body. And not only these things, but I am prepared to receive 10,000 deaths, only not to injure my sweet Christ, the Beautiful One among the sons of men, Who fashioned the sun, moon and the remainder of creation, and His divine will is equal to His power. He who denies Him goes to endless death."

This, in addition to other things, uttered the blessed James. And the king went into a furious rage, realizing it was impossible to pervert him. Wherefore, he took counsel with a certain senator, who recommended such severity, that upon hearing it, the king shuddered. That is: to dissever the joints, starting first with the fingers of his hands, and afterwards, the remainder of the joints. O the inhuman decision! What other unsparing tyrant ever revealed such pitilessness towards his friend? O savage judgment and inexorably merciless soul! Whoever heard this felt empathy; not only the faithful, but even those godless idolators among the nations, who wept at such a ferocious verdict. But our true martyr did not shrink back upon hearing such a sentence; rather, he hastened to the stadium with excessive joy and eagerness.

A large portion of the population assembled in order to witness the hideous sight. Not only people, but also the angels and demons were present at this mighty contest and violent duel. The angels were present in order to assist the saint invisibly to receive the crown, and the adversaries to prevent him, if possible, and to frustrate his purpose. Also, the word of the apostle was fulfilled: "...for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men" (I Cor. 4:9). For even the Great Promoter of contests and Heavenly King was there and stood above him to strengthen him in this match and, in the end, to grant him the imperishable crown. As the admirable and magnanimous man observed the fierce executioners and the forbidding instruments with which they were to cut him into pieces, he did not fear those devices prepared. Every kind soul, seeing another suffering thus, would feel sorrow and pity for him as a man. But he did not show any gloom and never uttered anything foul, nor did he suffer to do anything unworthy of his valor. But, as if his flesh was insensible, he stood with a joyous glance and cheerful face.

The executioners tied the hands and feet of the martyr and after, they placed his right arm on the anvil, saying to him:

"Behold what will happen to you for your disobedience. We have been instructed to cut off your members one by one: your fingers, hands, feet, arms, ankles, knees, and finally your head. Therefore, reason before you taste these horrors and do that which is for your own good, for there is no repentance afterwards."

Certain of his friends and acquaintances implored him with tears to have pity on himself and not voluntarily receive such a horrendous and evil death. The saint answered them:

"Weep not for me, O wretched ones, but lament for yourselves and your children, as you will go to eternal damnation with your gods for these temporal pleasures. I, for a day's pain, will inherit the Kingdom of my Lord Jesus Christ and, also, indescribable joy and everlasting bliss."

After saying this, he noticed that the executioners were readying their tools to cut off his limbs. Consequently, he asked time to make a prayer to the Lord, and he prayed that He would strengthen and assist him to complete the contest and receive the crown of martyrdom.

As they began the martyrdom, the executioners cut off his thumb. And he turned toward heaven and said:

"O Lord Jesus Christ, the Help of all those who are helpless, the Hope of all the hopeless, and the Strength of all the weak: receive the first branch of this tree by Thy mercy. For as the vineyard gives forth leaves even when it is trimmed, thus will I appear before Thy judgment seat, safe and upright on the Day of Resurrection."

When they cut off his second finger, he said, "Receive, O Lord, the second branch of the tree that Thy right hand hath planted."

His face was joyous and festive, as if he perceived our Lord's future endowments. Then, they cut off his third finger, and he said, "With the three youths in the furnace, I sing to Thee and honor Thee, O Lord; with the choirs of martyrs, I sing praises to Thy holy name."

As they cut off his fourth and fifth fingers, his mouth was filled with praise, and he said, "In my five senses I bless Thee, O Lord; wherefore, receive the good pains of my right hand as a blessed fruit, O Master."

Then they severed the fingers of his left hand, one by one, and he was grateful at each, saying an appropriate praise and hymn.

Certain of his friends who stood by said to him, crying bitterly:

"Beloved brother, have pity upon yourself, for they will administer upon you an evil death, and in losing your life, you will be deprived of your mother, wife, and the rest of life's enjoyments. Do not grieve for your fingers, as we have doctors here capable of curing them. You have sufficient wealth and do not require the use of your hands. So listen to us, for your own good, and just say one small word with your mouth, so that it will appear as if you obeyed the king's command and, thereby, you will be delivered from the evil torturers. But in your heart, you believe in God and, when you return again to your country, you can repent and ask forgiveness of Him."

And he answered them:

"God forbid! I will not commit such a pretense. One cannot serve two masters. Whosoever puts his hand to the plough and turns back, is not worthy of the heavenly bliss. It is not right for me to love my mother and wife more than I love my God and Savior. Whosoever does not lift up his cross to follow Christ, is an unworthy servant. For these small pains, I go to my Master to receive the laurel of martyrdom. Therefore, I pray thee, do not sorrow for me, but rejoice and be glad with me."

As the executioners heard this, they cut off the toes of his feet one by one, in order to submit him to even more pain. But he was firm and adamant, thanking them at each toe, singing a hymn. At one point he was heard to say, "The afflictions of the present are not worthy of the future glory."

At other times, he encouraged himself, saying, "Why is my soul saddened?" and many other verses.

Then, they cut off his feet at the ankles. And then, they severed them again at the knees. Afterwards, they mercilessly cut off his hands and arms. But the resolute one endured with a great soul, as he saw his fingers, hands and legs on the ground. He did not utter one angry word at the executioners or the judge, but only prayed incessantly, in order to comfort and encourage himself, with verses from the Old Testament, such as: 'I will sing unto the Lord throughout my life, I will chant to my God for as long as I have my being. May my words be sweet unto Him, and I will rejoice in the Lord."

Behold a true martyr's valor! Behold Thy wonders, O Christ King! How did the invincible one withstand such rigorous pains and afflictions? O ye listeners, were you not awe-stricken, or was not your soul grieved at the sight of such an unprecedented mutilation? All those who were present at this fearful and horrid sight (not only the faithful, but even the persecutors, and the very senseless rocks), must have felt pity. Only that unbending soul and friend of Christ did not weep, but withstood those terrifying and awful tortures with a serene and upright face. For such is the love of God. When it possesses a noble soul, it empowers it to overcome nature and not to fear pains and punishments. Without this power, it would have been impossible for him to bear so many torments' as did the others who, for the loss of an arm or leg, died instantly, being unable to bear the excruciating pain. But the praiseworthy and ever-blessed one did not experience three or ten deaths, but twenty or thirty. The blood ran as rivers, the flesh fell, the veins were severed, the nerves plucked out, the arteries destroyed, the members were scattered. The audience fainted and the executioners grew weary. The demons, having been vanquished, were horror-stricken and panicked. The angels marvelled. But he that endured, seemed joyous, and his eye was not morbid, but cheerful, and he looked merry, rather than dismembered.

Then they cut off the thighs of the martyr, and the pain was so acute, that he cried out saying, "Christ, help me!"

And the executioners said to him: "Did we not tell you that you will suffer extreme pains and tortures, and you did not believe us? Now ask your God to save you from these punishments."

And he answered: "I do not ask Christ to rescue me from the torments, but to strengthen me till the end, so that I may receive the laurel, O senseless ones. I felt pain, in order to prove that I am in the flesh. But earlier, my mind was in my Lord Jesus Christ, Who lessened my pains, and I did not feel anything. Truly, just as the anvil is struck by the hammer and feels nothing, also I felt nothing, as I was being tormented. Therefore, I thank my God, and beg of you not to feel sad for me, but do dissolve this old structure of my flesh, that a new and brighter one will be raised up. Since you have cut off the branches, do not hesitate to chop down the tree also, that I may receive the heavenly bliss. For just as a deer wishes to reach the rivers of water, so I desire in death to attain my Creator."

Even though he was dismembered thus, the invincible one safeguarded his piety and won trophies against all of them, with the aid of the Holy Spirit and his unsurpassed desire. He remained, therefore, only with his head and torso, a dreadful sight to behold. Alas! But the villainous rulers, seeing that, even though he was dismembered, he was not afraid, but, rather, they were frightened. They had no further hope for him, so they ordered his honored head to be cut off, as the other members of his body. They ordered this, not because of any merciful sentiments or sympathy, but from their excessive shame, so that it would not seem that James defeated them, dismembered thus, and that the invisible power of the Lord might not be confessed in the saint.

After the decision [to cut off his head], the saint was solaced somewhat. He moved his honored head with difficulty, and prayed thus: "O Lord, Father Almighty and Lord Jesus Christ and Most Holy Spirit, I thank Thee that Thou hast enabled me to endure these torments for Thy holy name. But I pray Thee, make me worthy to complete this contest, for 'the pangs of hell came round about me' (LXX, Psalm 17:5). They have severed all my limbs. I have no legs to stand on and worship Thy majesty, nor hands to lift up to heaven to pray and call Thy name. They left me neither knees, nor arms, the merciless ones, but I remain as a branchless tree without roots. Therefore, I beseech Thee, O Most Holy King, abandon not Thy servant, but take my soul out of the prison of my body, and place it among Thy holy martyrs, so that we may glorify forever Thy majesty in the ages to come. Amen."

After he said these things, they cut off his honorable head, and thus, he achieved all those indescribable blessings: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God bath prepared for them that love Him" (I Cor. 2:9).

If then, as Saint Paul says, each one of us will receive a reward according to his own labor, how great will be his reward, who died a myriad deaths and witnessed suffering above all human endurance? In all truth, just as the pains and anguish were atrocious, so will the pleasures be painless, the rewards countless, the delights unutterable, and the crowns glorious. The blessed James received his martyrdom in Babylon, on Friday, November 27. Immediately afterwards, certain Christians, beloved of God, approached the guards and offered them money, in order to permit them to take part of his holy relics. But out of fear for the king, they did not wish to consent to this. Then the pious ones left, as if to depart, but actually they hid nearby and awaited till it was dark to procure at least a part of the relics. And as the night wore on, the guards fell asleep, the pious Christians crept forward, quietly, and carried away the precious relics of the martyr. They buried them devoutly and with honor, as an everlasting memorial and remembrance to the glory and praise of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom is meet honor, song and worship, with the Father and the All-Holy Life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

From the Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church.


According to St. Nikolai Velimirovich: "His head is to be found in Rome and a part of his relics in Portugal, where he is commemorated on May 22." Portions of his relics are found in many other shrines throughout the world, including the Great Cave Monastery in Kalavryta, Greece as well as the Barlaam Monastery at Meteora.

A Further Reflection Offered By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

When the executioners severed the thumb of St. James's right hand, he said: "Even a vine is pruned in this manner, so that in time a young branch may grow.'' At the severing of his second finger, he said: "Receive also, O Lord, the second branch of Thy sowing.'' At the severing of his third finger, he said: "I bless the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.'' At the severing of his fourth finger, he said: "O Thou who acceptest the praise of the four beasts [symbols of the four evangelists], accept the suffering of the fourth finger.'' At the severing of the fifth finger, he said: "May my rejoicing be fulfilled as that of the five wise virgins at the wedding feast.'' During the severing of the sixth finger, he said: "Thanks be to Thee, O Lord, Who at the sixth hour stretched out Thy most pure arms on the Cross, that Thou hast made me worthy to offer Thee my sixth finger.'' At the severing of the seventh finger, he said: "Like David who praised Thee seven times daily, I praise Thee through the seventh finger severed for Thy sake.'' At the severing of the eighth finger, he said: "On the eighth day Thou Thyself, O Lord, wast circumcised.'' At the severing of the ninth finger, he said: "At the ninth hour, Thou didst commend Thy spirit into the hands of Thy Father, O my Christ, and I offer Thee thanks during the suffering of my ninth finger.'' At the severing of the tenth finger, he said: "On a ten-stringed harp I sing to Thee, O God, and thank Thee that Thou hast made me worthy to endure the severing of the ten fingers of my two hands, for the Ten Commandments are written on two tablets.'' Oh, what wonderful faith and love! Oh, the noble soul of this knight of Christ!

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Martyr James the Persian

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

The Creator does not lose repentant souls:
He loves a true penitent the most.
James denied Christ the Living God
For the sake of the godless emperor, his flatterer.
His mother reproached him as did his wife:
"All the riches of the earth are as transient as foam.''
James repented, and bitterly repented,
Then openly spoke about what he had kept secret:
"A Christian I was, and again I am a Christian:
Foolish and weak are your idols!''
This James said, as he stood before the emperor;
This he said openly and remained true to it.
The emperor took all his imperial gifts from him,
And clothed the wondrous James with torture.
James was reddened with wounds and blood,
And like eagles on a carcass, men attacked him!
They dismembered the body of Christ's hero,
And cut St. James into bits.
Now James prays before God in Paradise
That all Christians overcome all attacks.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
Be entreated, O Lord, by the sufferings endured for You by the Saints, and we pray You, heal all our pain.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
O stout-hearted James, persuaded by thy noble wife, and fearing the dread tribunal, thou didst scorn all fear of the Persians with their profane decrees, and thou wast shown forth to be a most wondrous martyr of Christ, when all of thy body was pruned like a vine.

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