Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Double-Click on images to enlarge them.
The New York Times
Published: December 9, 1894
By Metropolitan Meletios of Nikopoleos
Archimandrite Joel Yiannakopoulos was a wise and holy personality (+1966).
Three years after his repose, on 19 October 1969 (the feast of the Prophet Joel), in the chapel of the Orthodox Christian Association "Three Hierarchs" in Athens, a vigil took place in memory of the blessed Fr. Joel. The Archimandrites Fr. Agathangelos Mihailidis (+1991), Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos (+1989) and Fr. Meletios Kalamaras (current Metropolitan of Nikopoleos) were co-celebrants.
Towards the end of the Divine Liturgy, during the time for communion, many faithful, spiritual children of Fr. Joel, saw a strange vision.
In the middle of the church there appeared, at the place of the chandelier, on a throne full of light, like a bright cloud, Fr. Joel seated. The throne was hanging above the heads of the crowd, who were following with awe and devotion the Divine Liturgy. He then disappeared and Fr. Joel could be seen, dressed in his priestly vestments, among his three clerical friends.
This event was interpreted by the congregation as a sign of the holiness of Father Joel, as well as an affirmation of the faith of our Church that the departed pious priests descend to our churches at the time of the Divine Liturgy and co-celebrate with their beloved living priests.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos
Charles E. Hill
October 18, 2010
The Huffington Post
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These are the Bible's familiar four Gospels, received as Holy Scripture by all major branches of Christianity. From ancient times to the present, these four books have been the gateway to Jesus and his teaching. Friends and foes alike have formed their ideas about Jesus mainly from these books. But why these? Weren't there once other Gospels which for some reason were excluded? How is it that just these four made it into the Bible, and who was it that chose them? If members of the general public have been paying attention, they may know the story by heart, for it has been told in recent best-selling books, novels, and in theaters. Recently, I heard it from a man on a plane and my son heard it in a university classroom. Here is the basic story line.
Gospels about Jesus once flourished. As one scholar has recently put it, they were "breeding like rabbits." Each of the varied Christian sects pushed its own version(s) and competition was lively. This "free market" for Jesus literature meant that, for many years and in many places, some now-forgotten Gospels were at least as popular as the ones that now headline the Christian New Testament. Gradually, however, one of the competing sects was able to gain the upper hand over its rivals. And when it finally declared victory in the fourth century, fully 300 years after Jesus walked the earth, it decreed that its four Gospels were, and had always been, the standard for the church Jesus founded. The "winners," supported by the powerful emperor Constantine the Great, then got to write the histories -- and make the Bibles.
As familiar as the narrative has become, however, it has serious flaws. I wrote Who Chose the Gospels? (Oxford, 2010) for any in the general public who might be interested in a readable account of the scholarship behind this popular story line and in a critique of that scholarship. If the story line has many of the qualities of a gripping conspiracy theory, it is because it basically is a conspiracy theory. And like most conspiracy theories, it tends to be long on drama and somewhat short on reality.
There once were, of course, other Gospels. The public got to see one up close in the spring of 2006 when the recently recovered gnostic Gospel of Judas was unveiled in front of rolling cameras. A cadre of scholars was on hand to deliver the now less-than-startling news that "Christianity was once diverse." For a good many years, some academics have been stumping for another text that somehow slipped through the church fathers' fingers: the Gospel of Thomas. Some would like to make it the long lost conversation partner of the author of the Gospel of John. Not to be forgotten is the venerable "Q" (short for the German Quelle, meaning "source"), the hypothetical inventory of Jesus' sayings which many believe was used by both Matthew and Luke when they wrote their Gospels. Standing up for certain new-old Gospels has taken on an ideological importance, much like the cause of civil rights. Why should fighting discrimination end with people and not with books?
Yet before there were the many Gospels, there were only the four. Not that the four were necessarily the very first writings about Jesus ever scribed, but they are the earliest which we now have. And they are the earliest whose existence we are actually sure of. Yes, the Gospel writers may have used sources, like Q. They may have written earlier editions ("Proto-Matthew," "Proto-Luke," and the like, as they are named). Possibly there were even other Gospels from the first century which we don't know about. But if such things ever existed, we have no good evidence that they ever circulated, or were intended to circulate, among groups of churches as authoritative accounts of the life of Jesus.
That scholars spend good portions of their careers writing about these alternative Gospels and reconstructing Gospel sources that no one has ever reported seeing, though, is a good thing. Such efforts help us imagine how the Gospels were composed, and they give us valuable insights into all early forms of Christianity, both "winners" and "losers".
There is something attractive about the idea of a primordial, Edenic age of natural diversity, from which the church fell into the original sin of greater ecclesiastical unity. But then why do the remains of history seem to indicate that, even amid considerable second-century diversity, there was a mainstream of Christian thought which held a stable, core set of theological beliefs (e.g., that God really did make the world and that Jesus really was both divine and human), as well as a core set of ethical norms? And why does it appear that this Christian mainstream had more in common with the apostle Paul (they preserved his letters) and with the original disciples of Jesus than these other sects did? Here is where the conspiracy theory comes in. This imbalance in the surviving data is explained by the winners' successful campaign to destroy as much of the counter evidence as they could. (Never mind that time and the elements would have destroyed most of them anyway, as they have destroyed most of what the winners tried to preserve.)
Here I will mention one claimed proof for this conspiracy theory, and one stubborn problem it faces.
Proof is said to reside in the ancient papyrus documents which archaeologists have dug from the sands of Egypt over the past century and a quarter. The Christian books yielded up by the unbiased, ancient trash heaps are, we are told, mostly books which were excluded from the New Testament. This would seem to show that the four Gospels were once minority reports and that some popular alternatives have been suppressed by the "winners." All I will say here is that the papyri have both less and more to tell us than this argument lets on.
The problem for the conspiracy theory is a man named Irenaeus. Irenaeus was crystal clear in his claim that the church, from the time of the apostles, had received just four authoritative Gospels -- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John -- and that all the others were bogus. This is just what we would expect from a fourth-century re-writer of history. The problem is that Irenaeus wrote in the second century, long before the conspiratorial rewriting of history is supposed to have taken place.
Does, then, the conspiracy approach to early Christian history, in either its popular or its academic forms, have it right? Should it bother anyone that those who stress so loudly that the winners wrote the histories are the ones now writing the histories? Let the reader judge ... but also be aware of conspiracies.
October 17, 2010
Bulgaria's alternative medicine practitioners have threatened to approach the European Commission if the government delays plans to distinguish charlatanism from therapy and translate them into a law.
"Alternative medical therapy should be practiced only by people who have been educated in this field," representatives of the association told Darik radio.
"What we are fighting for is a legal framework, which will legalize the status of those healers, who have the necessary skills and training, and wipe out those who are just pretending to be healers, bringing nothing but problems to the people," says the association chair Zofia Shcherbak.
"When it comes to health care, the authorities' control is a must," she stresses and adds that Bulgaria's government is obliged to make sure that unconventional healing methods are in line with the European Union requirements.
But experts fear that the legislation wouldn't do much to put an end to the booming business of clairvoyants and miracle healers because too many Bulgarians believe in their services.
Numerous psychic programs of clairvoyants, soothsayers, fortune-tellers and astrologers with special powers have turned into a social phenomenon in Bulgaria.
The business of miracle healers is booming in Bulgaria as never before on the back of the economic crisis, Bulgarians' despair and their predilection for mysticism and superstitions.
These pushy women can be seen standing in front of hospitals, their ads feature in newspapers and on the internet. It is hard to avoid meeting them even in downtown Sofia.
More often than not, following these sessions, the patients end up with double-digit bills, rather than a solution to their problems.
The promise to solve virtually any problem whether it's regarding love, career, finance, stress or illness however have made the miracle healers so popular in Bulgaria that they successfully compete with the medics from the health care sector, left in tatters after the collapse of the communist regime.
According to social analysts the fear of the unknown, the feeling for being helpless when faced with corruption, the insecurity and instability that marked the period of big changes in the country, makes people seek refuge in superstitions.
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Varus was a Roman officer in Egypt and also secretly a Christian. When seven Christian teachers were cast into prison, Varus visited them, supplying them with necessities and ministering to them zealously. He was amazed at these martyrs and grieved that because of his fear he could not become a martyr for Christ. The men of God encouraged him, and Varus decided that he would go with them to be tortured.
One of these men of God died in prison, so that when the wicked eparch had the martyrs brought before him, there were only six remaining. He inquired as to the seventh. Varus said to him: "I am the seventh". The enraged governor tortured Varus first. He commanded that he be flogged with dry rods naked, and after that had him tied to a tree and sliced apart piece by piece until the saint gave his holy soul to God.
His body was thrown on a dung heap. A Palestinian woman named Cleopatra, the widow of an officer, was there with her son John. She secretly took Varus's holy relics from the dung heap and buried them in her house. Then she begged permission from the eparch to take the body of her deceased husband from Egypt to Palestine. As she was the wife of an officer, the eparch immediately gave his permission. However, the blessed Christian Cleopatra did not take the body of her husband but the relics of the Holy Martyr Varus instead. Thus, she brought the martyr's relics to Edras (the village of her birth) near Mount Tabor, and buried them with honor there. Afterward, she built a church to St. Varus and he often appeared to her from the other world, resplendent as an angel of God.
An Appearance of the Holy Martyr Varus
When the devout widow Cleopatra built a church to him, she summoned the bishop and priests to consecrate it. A large number of Christians gathered for this celebration, for the entire countryside venerated St. Varus as a great healer and miracle-worker.
Following the divine services, this pious benefactress went before the relics of St. Varus and prayed: "I beseech you, you who endured much suffering for Christ, implore God for that which is pleasing to Him; and for me and my only son, ask that which is beneficial."
Cleopatra's son John was ready for the army. Just as she left the church, John became ill. He was seized with a burning fever that grew steadily worse until, around midnight, John died. The grief-stricken, furious mother came before the tomb of St. Varus and spoke sharply: "O saint of God! Is this the way you help me?" and she said much more in her bitter lamentation until, utterly exhausted, she fell into a light sleep.
St. Varus appeared to her with her son John. Both were radiant as the sun in garments whiter than snow, bound with golden girdles, and had magnificent wreaths on their heads. God's saint said to her: "Did you not pray to me to implore God for whatever was pleasing to Him, and beneficial to you and your son? I prayed to God and He, in His unspeakable goodness, took your son into His heavenly army. If you so desire, here he is: take him and place him in the army of the earthly king." Hearing this, the young John embraced St. Varus and said: "No, my Lord, do not listen to my mother and do not send me back into the world, full of unrighteousness and iniquity, from which you have delivered me."
Awakening from the dream, Cleopatra felt great joy in her heart and left the church. She lived near the church for seven years, and St. Varus often appeared to her with John.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyr Varus, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
Since thou hadst put on thyself thy Master's Cross as a breastplate, thou didst blunt and bring to nought the tyrants' wicked devices. Thou didst bear most savage tortures upon thy body; valiantly didst thou then finish thy godly contest. Hence from God, O noble Varus, thou wast adorned in a crown august and divine.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Following Christ, O Martyr Varus, you drank of His chalice; you received the crown of martyrdom and now rejoice with the angels. Pray for our souls unceasingly.
New Scientist is reporting: "Last month, a team of astronomers announced the discovery of the first alien world that could host life on its surface. Now a second team can find no evidence of the planet, casting doubt on its existence."
"Orthodox" Extremists have a slogan which reads "Orthodoxy or Death", and frankly, it has become a bit tiresome. Despite a well-meaning application by some, it still has its origins in an arrogant polemical stance of so-called "Orthodox Zealots" against other Orthodox Christians whom they think are less Orthodox than they are. Specifically it was aimed at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, whom they practically consider an agent of the Antichrist, yet it also applies to other clergy and laity of the Orthodox Church who disagree with their idealistic notions of Orthodoxy which only exist to serve their own egos. In other words, they want everyone to know that if "Saul has killed his thousands", that is, if the majority of Orthodox only have a portion of the truth, then they want everyone to know that "David has killed his tens of thousands", which is to say that their few have preserved Orthodoxy supposedly with exactitude and purity. A slogan like "Orthodoxy or Death" thus becomes a means to drive other Orthodox to jealousy over their supposed authenticity. In reality they have developed a persecution complex by declaring that they would rather die than become like other "lukewarm" Orthodox who have lost the fire of their zeal.
"The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess' And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, 'God be merciful to me a sinner'." (Luke 18:11-13)
Of course, such stands are nothing new to the Church. So-called Zealots have always existed within the Church, and the Lord has His way of dealing with them by exposing their schismatic ways when He finds it appropriate. He did it with the Judaizers, He did with the Donatists, He did it with the Novationists, He did it with the Bogomils, He did it with the Old Believers, and He is doing it with the schismatic Old Calendarists - all well-known groups who caused confusion within the Church by proclaiming a purer Orthodoxy over and against the Church at large, whom they charge with heretical teachings where no heresy in fact exists except in their extremist imaginations which are infected with the venomous snake of "zeal without knowledge", which can only be healed with the antidote of wisdom, love and humility. We ought to heed our Lord's words and be "wise as serpents", that is, not biting at a false enemy and being over-territorial out of irrational fear, and we ought to couple this with being "harmless as doves".
So how about a new slogan? Or should we call it an anti-venom? How about...
"Orthodoxy Is Death"
After all, ought not Orthodoxy be the death of one's ego.
But then again, whatever happened to "Jesus Christ Conquers"? It takes the focus off US and puts it back on HIM.
Since slogans are a part of our human fabric, it would probably be best to have a slogan which we ought always have on our lips...
"Glory to God for all things!"
It's no wonder that St. John Chrysostom died with these words on his lips, since they sum up the purpose of our existence, which is to glorify God instead of our ego's.
Monday, October 18, 2010
The miracle-working relics of the Apostle Luke were transported to Constantinople during the 4th-century, under the reign of Emperor Constantius (357 AD), the son of Constantine. In 1204, the Crusaders of the IV Crusade stole the relic from Constantinople and transported it to Padova in Italy and it is still located there in the Catholic church of Santa Justina at the centre of the city.
In 1992, the then Metropolitan Ieronymos of Thebes and Levathia (currently the Archbishop of Greece) requested the return of a "a significant fragment of the relics of St. Luke to be placed on the site where the holy tomb of the Evangelist is located and venerated today". This prompted a scientific investigation of the relics in Padua, and by numerous lines of empirical evidence confirmed that these were the remains of an individual of Syrian descent who died between 130 and 400 A.D. The Bishop of Padua then delivered to Metropolitan Ieronymos the rib of St. Luke that was closest to his heart to be kept at his tomb in Thebes, Greece.
The tomb works miracles even today. In December 22, 1997 at 1:30 PM myrrh appeared on the tomb's marble and since then the interior of the marble sarcophagus is fragrant.The olive tree is still living to the right side of the cemetery in Thebes. On the right side of the sanctuary of this church is the Roman sarcophagus where the body of St. Luke had been placed. This tomb belonged to a Roman family of the 2nd-century BC but later on it was emptied and the Christians of Thebes used it as "honor" for St. Luke's relic since it was a majestic tomb.
Read more on the authentication of the relics of Saint Luke below:
Relics of Saint Luke the Evangelist Found in Padua
Saint Luke's Bones
The Beloved Physician
'Body of St. Luke' Gains Credibility
DNA Test Pinpoints St Luke the Apostle's Remains to Padua
Genetic Tests Shed Light On Biblical Body
October 18, 2010
The Georgian Times
Thousands of believers crowded the narrow streets of the historic town of Mtskheta on Thursday to celebrate “Svetistkholoba,” the national Georgian holiday on October 14, and to commemorate the 1700th anniversary of the Svetistkhoveli Cathedral.
Throughout the day, visitors, as well as Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, attended religious services and watched traditional Georgian dances and concerts. In the morning, Catholicos-Patriarch of all Georgians Ilia II held a service at 10.00 a.m. in the cathedral.
Despite the occasional rain shower, the entire town bustled with activity. Street vendors sold food and souvenirs, from watermelons to papakha, a type of traditional woolen hat. Within the town, children paraded in their national Georgian costumes. Young boys wore the chokha, or a black tunic with bandoliers stitched in vertical rows on both sides of the chest, over black pants and black leather boots. The chokha is further decorated with a thin leather belt around the waist which holds a small dagger in its sheath. Young girls, on the other hand, wore the khevsuruli dress, another traditional costume which consists of a finely embroidered crimson dress and a matching head covering.
Svetistkholoba is considered to be one of the most important religious festivals in Georgia, while the small town of Mtskheta and its cathedral are one of the main religious centers in the nation. For many Orthodox Christians, the town and the church represent the cradle of Christianity. “Mtskheta is like the second Jerusalem,” said Tamuna Apakidze, who participated in the festival together with her family. “It’s the second place from where Christianity started,” she said.
According to tradition, Svetistkhoveli Cathedral is a shrine built upon the robe worn by Christ during his crucifixion, which was brought to Georgia by an Mtskheta Jew called Elioz. When Elioz brought the robe back to his home, his sister Sidonia died in a passion of faith clutching the garment in her hands. Thus the early Christian woman and the bloodied robe are said to have been buried together.
About three centuries after Sidonia’s death, however, when the entire nation was converted to Christianity, King Mirian planned to build the first church at Mstkheta. According to legend, the first wooden pillar which was designed to support the building could not be moved in any manner. But when St. Nino prayed next to the column, the wooden balk moved of its own accord and placed itself over the unmarked grave of Sidonia. Thus, the name “Svetistkhoveli” signifies “Life-Giving Column.”
Still today, visitors reunite every year to pray in the church where the miracle of the moving column occurred. The Cathedral of Mtskheta was in fact so packed that many faithful had to watch the ceremony from screens outside the building. Apakidze, who attends Svetistkholoba almost every October, said that big crowds were not a surprise. As the two main roads to the town have gradually become more accessible, more visitors are able to visit the town.
Fifteen-year-old Nini Grigolia, who was also at the festival, underlined the religious significance of the event. “It is a big day and everyone should go [to Mtskheta] to pray,” she said. Like many other visitors, she also said she enjoyed the beauty of the town.
Mtskheta itself, which is about 20 km from Tbilisi along the main highway, is indeed beautiful. The village and its medieval churches lie among the rugged mountains of the Caucasus and are surrounded by woodland and shrubs. To the east of Mtskheta, overlooking the valley below lies Jvari church, one of the holiest places in Georgia. Built in the 6th century, the building appears to have grown out of the cliff and can be seen from miles away. Though its interior is rather simple, the view over Mtskheta and the converging Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers is spectacular. Some of the walls of the church lie in ruins and overlook the craggy, windswept cliffs of the Caucasus.
Even for tourists and visitors from abroad, the combination of ancient traditions, of medieval Georgian architecture, and of the stunning views from Mtskheta and from Jvari help to create an almost mystical atmosphere. But for Georgian citizens the festival is much more than that.
Notwithstanding the crowds and the sometimes dubious weather, Apakidze says that October 14 is very important to her and her family. Though sometimes an entire year may pass without visiting Mtskheta, she says she always finds time to attend Svetistkholoba.
“It’s part of our old tradition,” she says, referring to her family’s yearly pilgrimage to the church. “At some point it’s a part of all of us.”
By Richard Hofstadter
Harper’s Magazine, November 1964, pp. 77-86.
It had been around a long time before the Radical Right discovered it—and its targets have ranged from “the international bankers” to Masons, Jesuits, and munitions makers.
American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. But behind this I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wind. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression “paranoid style” I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunatics., In fact, the idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.
Of course this term is pejorative, and it is meant to be; the paranoid style has a greater affinity for bad causes than good. But nothing really prevents a sound program or demand from being advocated in the paranoid style. Style has more to do with the way in which ideas are believed than with the truth or falsity of their content. I am interested here in getting at our political psychology through our political rhetoric. The paranoid style is an old and recurrent phenomenon in our public life which has been frequently linked with movements of suspicious discontent.
Here is Senator McCarthy, speaking in June 1951 about the parlous situation of the United States:
"How can we account for our present situation unless we believe that men high in this government are concerting to deliver us to disaster? This must be the product of a great conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man. A conspiracy of infamy so black that, which it is finally exposed, its principals shall be forever deserving of the maledictions of all honest men.…What can be made of this unbroken series of decisions and acts contributing to the strategy of defeat? They cannot be attributed to incompetence.…The laws of probability would dictate that part of…[the] decisions would serve the country’s interest."
Now turn back fifty years to a manifesto signed in 1895 by a number of leaders of the Populist party:
"As early as 1865-66 a conspiracy was entered into between the gold gamblers of Europe and America.…For nearly thirty years these conspirators have kept the people quarreling over less important matters while they have pursued with unrelenting zeal their one central purpose.…Every device of treachery, every resource of statecraft, and every artifice known to the secret cabals of the international gold ring are being used to deal a blow to the prosperity of the people and the financial and commercial independence of the country."
Next, a Texas newspaper article of 1855:
"…It is a notorious fact that the Monarchs of Europe and the Pope of Rome are at this very moment plotting our destruction and threatening the extinction of our political, civil, and religious institutions. We have the best reasons for believing that corruption has found its way into our Executive Chamber, and that our Executive head is tainted with the infectious venom of Catholicism.…The Pope has recently sent his ambassador of state to this country on a secret commission, the effect of which is an extraordinary boldness of the Catholic church throughout the United States.…These minions of the Pope are boldly insulting our Senators; reprimanding our Statesmen; propagating the adulterous union of Church and State; abusing with foul calumny all governments but Catholic, and spewing out the bitterest execrations on all Protestantism. The Catholics in the United States receive from abroad more than $200,000 annually for the propagation of their creed. Add to this the vast revenues collected here.…"
These quotations give the keynote of the style. In the history of the United States one find it, for example, in the anti-Masonic movement, the nativist and anti-Catholic movement, in certain spokesmen of abolitionism who regarded the United States as being in the grip of a slaveholders’ conspiracy, in many alarmists about the Mormons, in some Greenback and Populist writers who constructed a great conspiracy of international bankers, in the exposure of a munitions makers’ conspiracy of World War I, in the popular left-wing press, in the contemporary American right wing, and on both sides of the race controversy today, among White Citizens’ Councils and Black Muslims. I do not propose to try to trace the variations of the paranoid style that can be found in all these movements, but will confine myself to a few leading episodes in our past history in which the style emerged in full and archetypal splendor.
Read the rest here.
When one studies the origins of much of modern technology, one inevitable comes across some sort of spirit guidance leading the inventor towards their "great idea". Medical scientist Andrija Puharich, holder of more than 50 patents, gave his opinion about these strange inspirations:
"I am personally convinced that superior beings from other spaces and other times have initiated a renewed dialogue with humanity. While I do not doubt [their existence] ... I do not know what their goals are with respect to humankind." [Andrija Puharich, Uri: A Journal of the Mystery of Uri Geller (New York, 1975), p. 213.]
One of the most famous examples of this is Chester Carlson (1906-1968), inventor of the Xerox photocopying process, who received guidance for his invention from the spirit world. By the fall of 1938, Carlson's wife had convinced him that his experiments needed to be conducted elsewhere. He rented a room on the second floor of a house owned by his mother-in-law at 32-05 37th Street in Astoria, Queens. He hired an assistant, Otto Kornei, an out-of-work Austrian physicist. Chester Carlson devoted long hours to meditation at the behest of his wife in order to develop his psychic abilities and converse with the other side. He thoroughly believed that he received the knowledge necessary to create his breakthrough photocopying method from the spirit realm! On October 6, 1942, the Patent Office issued Carlson's patent on electrophotography. The home of Doris and Chester Carlson in Rochester, NY was known as a Zen meditation center and many would daily gather there to meditate. In June 1966 Philip Kapleau Roshi founded the Rochester Zen Center with the support of the Carlson's. After he became wealthy from xeroxing, Carlson donated significant sums for paranormal research to Duke University’s Parapsychology Laboratory and the American Society for Psychical Research (for which he served as a trustee).
In his essay "Half a Career with the Paranormal", researcher Ian Stevenson describes Carlson's philanthropic style. According to Stevenson, Carlson's wife, Dorris, had some skill at extrasensory perception, and convinced Carlson to help support Stevenson's research. Carlson not only made annual donations to the University of Virginia to fund Stevenson's work, but in 1964 he made a particularly large donation that helped fund one of the first endowed chairs at the University. Stevenson was the first incumbent of this chair. Although Carlson insisted on anonymous donations, wrote Stevenson, he was unusual in that he closely followed the details of the research, maintaining contact with Stevenson. "He rarely made suggestions, but what he said always deserved attention," wrote Stevenson.
14 October 2010
Yet again, we have this utterly meaningless question asked of an electoral candidate during a debate, in an attempt to discredit her. My response, had I been asked this question, would have been as follows:
Does evolution mean that living things have changed over time? Does evolution mean universal common ancestry? Does evolution mean that random errors filtered by natural selection explain all of biology, including the origin of the functionally specified information encoded in the base-four digital code of the DNA molecule, along with the information-processing machinery that translates it, performs error detection and repair, and much more?
If your definition of “evolution” is the latter, can you supply us with adequate evidence that the probabilistic resources have existed to make this hypothesis a reasonable inference?
Had the debate host, who asked the question in the title of my post, been presented with such a challenge, I can guarantee what his answer would have been:
October 8, 2010
The archetypal image of Neanderthals has been one that reinforced the Darwinian story of human evolution. A Washington Post story puts it like this: "Early study of Neanderthals described them as very hairy, brutish, unable to talk or walk like more-modern humans." Although things have changed slowly, media presentations have continued to create an impression that does not differ much from this description. However, the evidence for their humanity has accumulated rather rapidly in recent years, and the past month has seen two significant additions to the literature. A Wired Science report introduces one of these studies like this:
"For decades, Neanderthal was cultural shorthand for primitive. Our closest non-living relatives were caricatured as lumbering, slope-browed simpletons unable to keep pace with nimble, quick-witted Homo sapiens. However, anthropologists have found evidence in recent years suggesting considerable Neanderthal sophistication, and not only in tool-making and hunting, but in their ability to feel [i.e. to show compassion]."
Read the rest of the article here.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
The Holy Trinity St. Seraphim-Diveyevo Convent was founded in 1760 when the Mother of God appeared to the nun Alexandra in a dream at the village of Diveyevo and promised to base a great and unrivalled convent there. In 1767 on that very spot where the Holy Virgin appeared, Sister Alexandra began to build the church dedicated to the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. As Sister Alexandra drew closer to the end of her life, she asked the elders of Sarov not to leave her fellow sisters without spiritual guidance. It was Fr. Pakhomy who took it upon himself to look after the community of nuns and after his death the job was taken on by Saint Seraphim of Sarov.
As St. Seraphim was working in the convent one day, he saw the Mother of God walking around the boundaries of the monastery. He understood that this had been given not only as a sign of her protection, but that the very path she walked would be a blessing for those who followed in her steps. In 1830 Saint Seraphim had asked Diveyevo's nuns to dig the Holy Canal (or Holy Ditch), which would surround the elected place chosen by the Mother of God for the building of the Convent. Saint Seraphim said: "He who walks along the Holy Canal praying 'Theotokos and Virgin, Rejoice...' 150 times, for him this place will be Athos, Jerusalem, and Kiev." He and his nuns spent many months digging a deep canal of 2 meters along the Holy Virgin’s path. Through cold winters and snow they would dig this canal, and St. Seraphim would dig as if it was his final mission; in fact, he died on January 2, 1833 soon after its completion. The Elder would encourage pilgrims to walk the canal, and that if they did so, the Mother of God would unfailingly answer their prayers.
Since then Diveyevo Convent has been known as one of the four domains of the Theotokos. Saint Seraphim of Sarov predicted that Diveyevo would become a stronghold of Orthodoxy and a place where worldwide repentance would begin. St. Seraphim’s relics are now enshrined at the convent in Diveyevo, as the elder himself predicted a century and a half earlier. After the relics of St. Seraphim, the most widely visted spot at Diveyevo is the Holy Canal. In 1922 the Hieromartyr Seraphim Zvezdinsky saw the Theotokos walking along the Holy Canal. It is said that when the Antichrist comes, he will not be able to enter Diveyevo Monastery because of the Holy Canal.
Every night after dinner, the Diveyevo nuns walk the canal in procession, carrying a cross and icons of the Mother of God and St. Seraphim, often with several hundred pilgrims in their wake.
Dr. F.A. Timofievich describes his canal walk in 1926:
"It had already grown dark when we, having left the church, made our way to the canal, which was sanctified, according to the words of St. Seraphim, by the steps of the Mother of God herself, and to which he attributed such special significance. Slowly the silent figures of the nuns were moving along the canal with prayer ropes in their hands, quietly whispering prayers: 'Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls.'
The canal was actually a rather large embankment with a ditch on the outside, and on top of it ran a well-trodden pathway planted with large trees. The sides of the canal were overgrown with grass and field-flowers, which the believers pick and preserve as holy objects. We also walked along the canal with a prayer.
Inexpressible was the feeling of contrition of heart when we also touched this mystery so full of grace and were, so to speak, engulfed in the stream of human souls which for over 100 years ceaselessly continued, according to the commandment of St. Seraphim, to follow in the steps of the Queen of Heaven ... Several times we walked around the canal with prayer and did not want to leave, so light and joyful were we in soul. With the last breath of St. Seraphim this canal was finished, and it is destined in the future to be a defense against Antichrist himself. The whole meaning, the whole completion of this sacred mystery, of course, was open to St. Seraphim alone, but to us sinners it is given only to touch it, like the hem of a garment, and to wholly believe the words of the Saint that not a single stone in Diveyevo was laid without the instruction of the Queen of Heaven." (Source)
Since Dr. Timofievich’s time the canal has almost completely eroded and is no longer in its original form as an embankment, though it is being restored. Although it has been both purposely and naturally filled in, its path was not forgotten and thousands of contemporary pilgrims still trod the well-worn boundary walked by the Mother of God. Since the convent’s closure, the village has encroached on what was previously monastery property, and now the path winds past a school, near a power station and through the backyards and alleys of Diveyevo. Nevertheless, Dr. Timofievich’s experience of the canal walk is as true for pilgrims today as it was for him in 1926, and the nuns themselves recount the tradition that each day, unseen, the Mother of God visits her canal.
According to one pilgrim, Ann Johnson, who visited in 2006, this is how it now takes place:
"We were fortunate enough to join in the procession around the 'kanavka', which takes place every evening. St. Seraphim said that the Mother of God was the real abbess of Diveyevo, and that it was she who marked out the boundaries of the monastery which he caused to be built. He himself began the task of digging the ditch and dyke and the nuns continued it. When our friend Alison first visited Diveyevo about 10 years ago, she helped to dig it out along with many other pilgrims, so that the ancient tradition of praying around the kanavka every evening could be revived. A procession of nuns and priests lead the way walking slowly along the path in total silence, each person silently praying the prayer “Virgin Mother of God, Rejoice…” It took about 45 minutes to walk right round the kanavka, and the sky was darkening when we reached the end. We guessed that there might have been about one thousand pilgrims walking and praying in silence." (Source)
Below is a Russian documentary on the Holy Canal of the Theotokos at Diveyevo Monastery:
By St. Nikolai Velimorivich
"My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness" (Psalm 38:5).
The prophet speaks of the wounds of sin that he himself committed, and from which he sensed in himself the stench of sin. As much as this acknowledgment reveals the impurity of previous sins, so is the subsequent purity of the repentant one also shown. For as long as man follows the corrupt path of sin, he does not sense its suffocating stench; but when he withdraws from this path and sets off on the pure path of righteousness, he senses the inexpressible difference between purity and impurity, between the path of virtue and the path of vice.
Imagine a man who has spent the night in a stinking tavern and finds himself in a garden of roses the next morning. In the former there was stench, poison, debasement of soul and body, anger, discord, and the tormenting of himself and others. In the latter is God's great sun overhead, beautiful flowers everywhere, fresh air, wondrous fragrance, serenity and health. Imagine this, and understand that there is an even greater difference between the path of sin and the path of God.
My wounds are foul and festering. Thus the great king describes the fruits of his sinful past. Nothing is as foul as sin, nothing festers as much and nothing spreads as much as sin. The stench of bodily wounds suggests, in only a small way, the unbearable stench of a sinful soul. That is why every holy thing distances itself from such a soul. The pure heavenly spirits hide from such a one, and the impure spirits of hades seek its company. Every new sin is a fresh wound on the soul; every sin is corruption and stench.
How does sin arise? From my foolishness explains the prophet. A mind derailed from its divine track leads man to sin. Until the mind is cleansed, man cannot be cleansed. "But we have the mind of Christ" (I Corinthians 2:16), says the Apostle. In other words, we have a mind put back on track, as was Adam's mind before the sinful stench.
Hence brethren, all Orthodox teaching on asceticism concentrates on one main point: on the mind of man; on the cleansing and correcting of the mind.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Purity and eternal Source of purity, help us to reject our foolishness; help us to reason according to Thy mind. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
The divine Matthew the Evangelist, in describing the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, says: "Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, 'Truly this was the Son of God'" (Matthew 27:54). That centurion was this blessed Longinus, who with two other of his soldiers came to believe in Jesus, the Son of God.
Longinus was chief of the soldiers who were present at the Crucifixion of the Lord on Golgotha, and was also the chief of the watch that guarded the tomb. When the Jewish elders learned of the Resurrection of Christ, they bribed the soldiers to spread the false news that Christ did not resurrect, but rather that His disciples stole His body. The Jews also tried to bribe Longinus, but he did not allow himself to be bribed. Then the Jews resorted to their usual strategy: they decided to kill Longinus. Learning of this, Longinus removed his military belt, was baptized with his two companions by an apostle, secretly left Jerusalem and moved to Cappadocia with his companions. There, he devoted himself to fasting and prayer and, as a living witness of Christ's Resurrection, converted many pagans to the true Faith by his witness.
After that, he withdrew to a village on the estate of his father. Even there, however, the malice of the Jews did not leave him in peace. Due to the calumnies of the Jews, Pilate dispatched soldiers to behead Longinus. St. Longinus foresaw in the spirit the approach of his executioners and went out to meet them. He brought them to his home, not telling them who he was.
He was a good host to the soldiers, and soon they lay down to sleep. But St. Longinus stood up to pray, and prayed all night long, preparing himself for death. In the morning, he called his two companions to him, clothed himself in white burial clothes, and instructed the other members of his household to bury him on a particular small hill. He then went to the soldiers and told them that he was that Longinus whom they were seeking. The soldiers were perplexed and ashamed, and could not even contemplate beheading Longinus, but he insisted that they fulfill the order of their superior.
Thus, Longinus and his two companions were beheaded. The soldiers took Longinus's head to Pilate, and he turned it over to the Jews. They threw it on a dung heap outside the city.
Two Appearances of St. Longinus
The first appearance of the Holy Martyr Longinus was as follows: Much time had passed since his martyrdom when it happened that a widow in Cappadocia became blind. The doctors were unable to do anything at all for her. Suddenly, the thought came to her to go to Jerusalem and venerate the holy places there, hoping that she might find help. She had an only son, a boy, who served as her guide, but as soon as they arrived in Jerusalem, her son died of an illness. Oh, how immeasurable was her sorrow! Having lost her eyes, she now lost her only son, whose eyes had guided her. But in her pain and sorrow, St. Longinus appeared to her and comforted her with the promise that he would restore her sight and reveal to her the heavenly glory in which her son now dwelt. Longinus told her everything about himself, and told her to go outside the city walls to the dung heap, and there to dig up his head, and that she herself would see what would happen next. The woman arose and, stumbling, somehow managed to get out of the city. She cried out for someone to lead her to the dung heap and to leave her there. When she was led to the dung heap, she bent down and began to dig with her hands, having a strong faith that she would find that for which the saint asked. As she was digging, she touched the holy martyr's buried head, and her eyes were opened, and she saw a man's head beneath her hands. Filled with gratitude to God and great joy, she took the head of St. Longinus, washed it, censed it, and placed it in her home as the most precious treasure on earth.
The second appearance of the Holy Martyr Longinus: When Longinus appeared to the blind widow whose son had died, he promised to restore her sight and to reveal her son in great glory. Finding the relics of the holy martyr and touching them with her hands, the widow immediately regained her sight, and thus, one promise was fulfilled. The following night, St. Longinus appeared to the widow in radiant attire, holding her son by the hand, who was also clothed resplendently. Caressing the child like a father, Longinus said: "Woman, behold your son for whom you weep so much! Look at the honor and glory given him; look and be comforted. God has numbered him among the heavenly ranks who live in His Kingdom. I have now brought him from the Savior, and he will never be parted from me. Take my head and your son's body, and bury them together in one coffin. Mourn your son no longer, and let not your heart be troubled, for great glory, joy, and endless rejoicing is given him from God." Seeing and hearing all this, the woman was filled with great joy, and she returned to her home, saying to herself: "I asked for bodily eyes and I found spiritual eyes. I was saddened at the death of my son, and now I have him in heaven, where he remains in glory with the prophets and rejoices with them unceasingly."
HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Martyr Longinus
St. Longinus stood beneath the Cross
When, on the Cross, Christ breathed His last.
Longinus beheld the wrath of the mild sky,
Witnessed the earth as it shook,
And the bright sun as it lost its rays
And clothed the whole world in darkness.
The tombs of many were opened,
And many of the dead appeared alive.
Brave Longinus was filled with fear,
And exclaimed with a remorseful sigh:
"This Man was the Son of God!
Sinful men have crucified the Innocent One!"
Next to him, two other soldiers
Echoed the exclamation of their centurion.
Longinus was a witness of the Resurrection,
And he could attest to His humiliation as well.
An eyewitness, a true witness,
Longinus desired to not conceal the truth,
But proclaimed it everywhere he went,
And glorified the resurrected Christ God!
To his death he remained Christ's soldier;
And for Christ, Longinus gave his head.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyr Longinus, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Longinus, you beheld the King of Glory who was nailed to the Cross, yet shone on those in darkness. You were enlightened by His rays and became a martyr and save those who cry: Glory to Him who gave you strength! Glory to Him who granted you a crown! Glory to Him who through you grants healing to all!
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
With great joy the Church of Christ today rejoiceth on the festive memory of blest Longinus, the all-famed and godly prizewinner. And she doth cry out: O Christ, my foundation and might art Thou.
The Glinsk Hermitage came into being in the 16th century in Kursk Province (a territory which now is part of the Sumsk Region), on the site of the appearance of the miraculous icon of the Nativity of the Theotokos. It appeared in a pine tree. A solitary desert-dweller first settled there, and then others joined him. Later, the Glinsk Hermitage was attached to a succession of monasteries, but even after being granted independence, it was not known as a distinguished monastery until 1817, when Abbot Philaret (Danilevsky) of the St. Sophronius Hermitage was assigned there. Upon his arrival at the monastery, he found only a few ancient structures and 25 brethren. Inspired by the example and teachings of St. Paisius Velichkovsky, Abbot Philaret truly became the awakener and spiritual founder of the monastery which became renowned for its eldership and wide-ranging charitable undertakings. Already at the close of the 19th century, the Glinsk Hermitage encompassed 5 churches, 4 house churches, 15 buildings to house the residents, 8 hostels for the faithful, a refectory, a laundry, a hospital with a pharmacy, and many household buildings, including 4 waterwheel-powered mills. The monastery included a vocational school in which up to 50 boys, primarily orphans, were educated. Approximately 400 people lived at the monastery.
Almost everything of the external glory of the monastery was swept away by the revolutionary whirlwind. By 1942, when the warmth of monastic life was rekindled on the ruins of its former splendor, the Glinsk Hermitage included only one house church, in the building also housing the hospital and ”bishop's” building.
The most noteworthy aspect of the history of the monastery was the fact that its monastics were able to endure through all of the deprivations and trials of the awful decades, and to return to the monastery not the glory of its former magnificence, but rather the spirit of true asceticism, eldership, and service to the world. This permitted the Glinsk Hermitage to function for a short time – from 1942 to 1961, when it was once again shut down – as a manifestation of unusual spiritual strength, at whose center were the elders.
We were told a great deal about the elders of the Glinsk Hermitage by his Eminence, the Most Reverend Lazarus, during his visits to Washington, and by Schema-archimandrite Makary Bolotov, who was personally acquainted with several of the Glinsk elders during the final stage of the history of the monastery. They both believe that the time will come when the Church will include them in the host of Saints. [On August 21, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, canonized three Glinsk elders: Schema-Metropolitan Seraphim (Mazhugi), Schema-Archimandrite Seraphim (Romantsov), and Schema-Archimandrite Andronik (Lukash) -Pravoslavie.ru]
Schema-Archimandrite Seraphim (1885–1976)
He was able to make us feel that earthly life is only the podvig of temporary wandering on the path to eternal life.
After Glinsk monastery was closed in 1922, Fr. Juvenaly moved to the Drandsk Monastery of the Dormition (Sukhumi diocese, Abkhazia), where in 1926 he was ordained a hieromonk and tonsured into the great schema with the name Seraphim. However, the Drandsk Monastery was also soon closed. Until 1930, Fr. Seraphim lived near Alma Alta and worked as the guardian of an apiary. The armed forces did not arrest him, and did not send him to build the White Sea Canal. From 1934 to 1946, Fr. Seraphim lived in Kyrgyzstan. He celebrated Divine Service at night, confessing and communing the faithful during those services.
On December 30, 1947 Fr. Seraphim returned to Glinsk Hermitage (which had just reopened), and in 1948 Archimandrite Seraphim (Amelin), seeing his spiritual experience and perfection in monastic labors, appointed Hieroschemamonk Seraphim as father-confessor of the brothers.
The elder had a special spiritual gift for hearing confessions, for calling people to complete openness. He received with particular fatherly love those who were tormented by woes, sorrows, and despondency, and those who did not know what path to take in life. Fr. Seraphim was able to make people perceive that earthly life is only the podvig of temporary wandering on the path to eternal life; he called people to a life that is Christian, perfect, and lofty. People came to him from all ends of the Soviet Union.
The elder's own humility was remarkable. He never ascribed anything to his own gifts, or considered himself a man of special prayer. The elder's day began at 2:00 a.m., when he did his cell rule, and then attended the services from beginning to end, after which he gave himself over to service of his neighbor: he received pilgrims, assigned them places to live, confessed them. At night he answered letters. He copied excerpts from the holy fathers and blessed his spiritual children to do the same, and he would send the copies later to others. Love inspired him to selflessly care for every soul. He was a great God-pleaser and a true pastor. Not only monks and laypeople came to him for advice, but even bishops, who saw that he was not a man of the flesh, but of the spirit. After Glinsk Hermitage was again closed, Fr. Seraphim moved to Sukhumi, where he continued his labors as an elder in the capacity of father confessor of the Cathedral. Multitudes of the faithful came to him there. On January 1, 1976, the grace-filled elder peacefully gave up his spirit to God.
Schema-Archimandrite Andronik (1880–1974)
Having endured three arrests, exile, humiliation, and hunger, he was able to fulfill the commandment, "Love thine enemies"
Schema-Archimandrite Andronik (in the world Alexei Andreyevich Lukash), a venerable elder and great man of prayer, was born February 12, 1880 in the village of Lupa, in the Romen region of Poltava province, to a peasant family. In 1895 Alexei came to Glinsk Hermitage with the desire to dedicate his life to God.
In 1915 he was enlisted in the army. First he served in Perm, but was soon transferred to the front, where he was taken prisoner by the Austrians, and remained in Austria for three and a half years. The prisoners were hardly fed, and given the most difficult labor. Many prisoners died of hunger and labors beyond their strength. But Alexei prayed intensely and accepted all these afflictions as from the hand of God. In 1918 he returned to the monastery, where he received the monastic tonsure in 1921 with the name Andronik. After the monastery was closed, he worked at a mill in the town of Putivl. Monk Andronik's strict monastic life and unmurmuring obedience drew the attention of Bishop Pavlin (Kroshechnik), a vicar of Kursk, who received him as his cell attendant. But Fr. Andronik was arrested and exiled. When he was released on amnesty, he again became Bishop Pavlin's cell attendant. In July of 1930, Fr. Andronik was arrested in Kaluga and sentenced to five years of imprisonment. In exile, Fr. Andronik worked as a nursing aide in a prison hospital. He looked after the sick with sincere compassion and love, washing them himself. Everyone loved him; the Uzbek prisoners even called him "mama."
In 1939, Fr. Andronik was again sentenced and sent to Kolyma. First, they detained him for eleven months in the prison, where he was interrogated every night, being pressured to slander Bishop Pavlin, but the elder kept silence. In the prison cell, Fr. Andronik had a vision of a certain Lady, who consoled and encouraged him. At first, he thought that this was his mother, but only later understood that she was the Mother of God.
Having completed his prison term, in 1948 Fr. Andronik returned to Glinsk Hermitage and was appointed dean of the monastery. It was his duty to watch after everyone in the monastery, gather the brothers to cut hay, prepare firewood, and work in the garden; he was always the first to do these labors. Fr. Andronik's soul, purified by many sorrows, was filled with the gifts of grace. This bearing of the spirit attracted people to the elder. Having magnanimously endured all suffering, he fulfilled the commandment to love thine enemies in deed. Humility and meekness reigned inseparably in his soul; the elder even walked bowed in humility.
After the monastery was again closed in 1961, Fr. Andronik moved to Tbilisi under the direct care of the former abbot of Glinsk Monastery, Metropolitan Zenobius (Mazhugi) of Tetritskaroi, who greatly loved and respected the elder. Just as they did to Glinsk, now people came to Fr. Andronik in Georgia from all over the Soviet Union seeking salvation. His whole life was directed at one goal—the salvation of his soul and the souls of his neighbors. On March 21, 1978, having reached deep old age, he gave his spirit to God.
Schema-Metropolitan Seraphim (1896–1985)
He was able to unite the magnificence of a hierarch with the humility of a monk, and became a wise pastor to the faithful of Armenia, Georgia, Russia, and the Ukraine.
In the person of the great elder, Metropolitan Zenobius of Tetritskaroi (in schema, Seraphim) was wondrously combined the sanctity of his personal life, love for people, and love of enlightenment. The future Metropolitan Seraphim (in the world, Zakharia Joachimovich Mazhuga) was born on September 14, 1896 in the town of Glukhov to a working class family. Having lost his father early in life, he was raised by his mother, and often went to Glinsk Hermitage. The grace-filled atmosphere of the monastery and the example of his God-loving mother instilled the love of God in him.
In 1914, he became a novice of the monastery, and in 1916, Zakharia Mazhuga was called to military duty. In the swamps of Pinsk he developed eczema and thrombophlebitis. But the young man's worst fear was killing someone. It was resolved by a miracle: through his fervent prayers, he was sent to the ranks of armed escorts, and did not participate in the battles.
After demobilization, Zakharia returned to the monastery, where he received the monastic tonsure with the name Zenobius. During the terrible period of civil war, Zinobius was entrusted with the dangerous obedience of gathering wheat from the monastery mill. While other monks who had this obedience where attacked, his loads of wheat were never robbed. In 1922, Glinsk Hermitage was closed. The young monk moved to the Caucasus, to the Drandsk Monastery of the Dormition near Sukhumi. Soon that monastery would also be closed; Fr. Zenobius moved with some other monks to the mountains of Abzhazia and started a small skete of desert dwellers.
The monks had no peace there either. There was one miraculous incident when Fr. Zenobius climbed into a bear's lair to hide from the authorities, and the bear did not touch him.
Fr. Zenobius moved to Rostov-on-the-Don, where he was arrested in 1930, and held for seven months without even receiving an accusation for his arrest. In imprisonment in the Urals, he performed the services and needs from memory. Everyone respected him for his generosity and fearlessness, and always called him "father." One day a miracle happened to him: he was returning to the camp in winter after work when he saw a bunch of grapes lying on the snow—something nearly impossible in January in the Urals. He gave a grape to each man in the brigade, and there was enough for everyone.
Having been in prison for four years and eight months, Fr. Zenobius left for Tbilisi. Later he was the rector of a church in Armenia, and then served in Batumi. After the restoration of ecclesiastical relations between the Georgian and Russian Churches, Fr. Zenobius was appointed dean of all the Russian parishes in Georgia and Armenia. From 1950 until his very death he was the rector of the St. Alexander Nevsky Church in Tbilisi.
Archimandrite Zenobius was consecrated a bishop in 1956, and in 1972 he was raised to the rank of metropolitan. All those around him treated him with great respect and gratefulness, amazed at the harmony in him of hierarchical magnificence with monastic humility. Having become an archpastor, Vladyka always maintained his connection with Glinsk Hermitage, providing shelter to many of its brothers after it was closed in 1961, among whom were elder Seraphim (Romanstov) and Andronik (Lukash). Vladyka departed to the Lord on March 8, 1985.
From the Official Site of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Source: Translated by Pravoslavie.ru/OrthoChristian.com
"It had brought melancholy across his passions. Its mere memory had marred many moments of joy. It had been like conscience to him. Yes, it had been conscience. He would destroy it."
- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Ch. 20
Friday, October 15, 2010
By Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver
Strictly speaking, there never was a ‘Bible’ in the Orthodox Church, at least not as we commonly think of the Bible as a single volume book we can hold in our hand. Since the beginning of the Church, from the start of our liturgical tradition, there has never been a single book in an Orthodox church we could point to as ‘the Bible’. Instead, the various ‘Books’ of the Bible are found scattered throughout several service books located either on the Holy Altar itself, or at the chanter's stand. The Gospels (or their pericopes) are complied into a single volume — usually bound in precious metal and richly decorated — placed on the Holy Altar.
The Epistles (or, again, their pericopes) are bound together in another book, called the Apostolos, which is normally found at the chanter's stand. Usually located next to the Apostolos on the chanter's shelf are the twelve volumes of the Menaion, as well as the books called the Triodion and Pentekostarion, containing various segments of the Old and the New Testaments.
The fact that there is no ‘Bible’ in the church should not surprise us, since our liturgical tradition is a continuation of the practices of the early Church, when the Gospels and the letters from the Apostles (the Epistles) had been freshly written and copied for distribution to the Christian communities. The ‘Hebrew Scriptures’ (what we now call the ‘Old Testament’, comprising the Law (the first five books) and the Prophets, were likewise written on various scrolls, just as they were found in the Jewish synagogues.
The Church is not based on the Bible. Rather, the Bible is a product of the Church. For the first few centuries of the Christian era, no one could have put his hands on a single volume called ‘The Bible’. In fact, there was no one put his hands on a single volume called ‘The Bible’. In fact, there was no agreement regarding which ‘books’ of Scripture were to be considered accurate and correct, or canonical. Looking back over history, there were various ‘lists’ of the canonical ‘books’ comprising the Bible:
•The Muratorian Canon (130 AD) cities all the books we considered as parts of the Bible today, except for Hebrews, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation/Apocalypse
•Canon 60 of the local Council of Laodicea (364 AD) cited Revelation/Apocalypse
•A festal Epistle by Saint Athanasius (369 AD) lists all of them.
Even so, there was no official, authoritative ‘canon’ listing all the books until the Sixth Ecumenical Council, at Constantinople in AD 680. Canon II of that Council ratifies the First through the Fifth Ecumenical Councils, as well as the local councils at Carthage (AD 255), Ancyra (AD 315), Neocaesaria (AD 315), Gangra (AD 340), Antioch (AD 341), Laodicea (AD 364), Sardica (AD 347), Constantinople (AD 394), and Carthage (AD 419). When the Council at Laodicea specified the content of the bible as we know it — 39 years after the First Ecumenical Council (AD 325) and 17 years before the second Ecumenical Council (AD 381) — the Liturgy was pretty much well-defined and established and had been ‘canonized’ by common usage — the reading from these books. It was not until the invention of the printing press in Western Europe, coinciding with the period of the Protestant Reformation of Western Christianity that ‘The Bible’ was widely disseminated as a single volume.
When Protestant Western Christians reviewed the canonical books of Scripture, they adopted the ‘Hebrew Canon’ accepted by the Jews since AD 100. [See The Books of the Old Testament]
The so-called Apocrypha, or Deuterocanonical, books were a problem for Jews living after the time of Christ, since they often very clearly prophesy concerning Our Lord, and indicate His divinity. Some of the books were also problematic for both the Jews and the Protestants because they make prophetically evident the special role of the Theotokos in the oikonomia of salvation. In fact, the Orthodox Fathers cite passages quite effectively to discuss the Church's understanding of the role of the Theotokos. Also, the only scriptural reference to praying for the dead is found in a Deuterocanonical book: viz., Maccabees. Not surprisingly, these Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books were rejected from the ‘canon’ of books indicated in the Jewish Scriptures. This canon was formally pronounced by a rabbinical council at Jamnia, which stated that all canonical Scripture had to have been written: in Palestine, in Hebrew (not Greek), and more then 400 years prior (300 BC) to that time.
In addition, the authorized Hebrew ‘translation’ was at variance with the accepted Septuagint Greek versions, which had been prepared by 72 translators working in Alexandria Egypt. This is significant, because the Apostles, who were the authors of the New Testament, as well as the early Church Fathers, frequently cite passages only found in the Septuagint (Greek) Old Testament that have significant differences in meaning from the Hebrew. Moreover, they frequently cite passages from the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament.
The Holy Scriptures were produced by the Orthodox Church. The Church's holy prophets and Apostles wrote the books contained in the Bible. The Church determined which books were authoritative and belonged in Holy Scripture. The Church preserved and passed on the texts of these Scriptural books. According to tradition, the seventy-two Jewish rabbis and scholars who gave us the Septuagint Greek Old Testament, produced seventy-two identical Greek translations working independently and in insolation from one another. Writing in Greek, the Holy Apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter, and Jude produced the books of the New Testament.
The Holy Scriptures were preserved by the Orthodox Church. These books and letters were studied, copied, collected, recopied, passed from group of early Christians to another, and read in the services of the Church. Testimony to the fidelity of reproduction in this milieu is the consistent agreement among the Church Fathers when they cite Scripture, and their common understanding of Scripture in their deliberations at the local and Ecumenical councils.
Over the centuries, alterations crept into some manuscripts. Sometimes the texts were altered by accident (e.g.., mistakes made in copying these books by hand). At other times intentional alterations were made, either by misguided but innocent copyists who thought they were correcting errors in the manuscripts they were working from, or by heretics who full intended to change the words of Scripture to suit their purposes. The Church, however, guided by the Holy Spirit, distinguished between authentic and inauthentic manuscripts, discarding or ignoring the latter, copying and handing on the former. Even today we see the authentic words of Scripture preserved. When a young priest or a chanter mispronounces a word in its original Greek, there will be a Bishop, an older priest — or even a venerable Orthodox ‘grandmother’ — who will be quick to point out the aberration from the way the text ‘has always been sung or read’!
The authentic Greek text of the Bible is preserved by the Orthodox Church. When translating the New Testament into English, there are many Greek manuscripts to choose from. To ask, ‘What does the original Greek say?’ is to beg the question, which Greek text? For Orthodox Christians this is a very easy question to answer. We simply use the Greek text handed down within the Orthodox Church which has been proven consistent by 2000 years of liturgical use and which the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, has given us. To Scripture scholars there is a huge body of ancient Greek manuscripts, known as the Byzantine text-type, which embodies the Orthodox textual tradition. These old manuscripts and lectionaries differ very little from each other, and are indeed in overwhelming agreement with each other throughout the whole New Testament. Furthermore, they are great in number and comprise the vast majority of existing Greek manuscripts.
There is another, bogus, Greek text of the Bible. Besides the Byzantine text-type family of manusciprts, there is a minor collection of Greek Scripture texts which are very old, and sometimes predate the Byzantine texts by hundreds of years.
In the middle of the last century, ‘modern’ Scripture scholars, or critics, determined that newly-‘discovered’ ancient texts — such as the Codex Sinaiticus, the Alexandrian Codex, the Codex Ephraemi rescriptus — dating from the fourth through the sixth centuries, had determining authority in establishing the original text of the Gospels and the words of the Lord. Criticism was leveled against these critics by other scholars who maintained that the older manuscripts had been preserved through the ages precisely because they were set aside and unused since they were inferior copies — obvious from the ineptitude of the hands that wrote them and the many misspellings. They argued that it was hardly logical to prefer inferior texts from one text family over the received Byzantine texts were in agreement. Furthermore, they noted that the received text has even more ancient parallels — in second century Syriac and Latin versions — and is widely quoted in the Fathers. Even papyrus fragments from the first century bear out the veracity of the Byzantine text, and refute the validity of the older texts.
Amazingly — indeed, even unbelievably — most modern translators work from an ‘eclectic’ or ‘critical text’, which draws very heavily from the older Codices. This eclectic text is a patchwork of readings from the various manuscripts which differ from each other and from the Byzantine text.
Any Greek Orthodox Christian can take a copy of the Nestle-Aland critical (eclectic) text into church, and compare the Epistles with those in the Apostolos — they differ, often, radically, in hundreds of places, not only in words and word order, but also in tenses and meanings! The same comparison can be made between an English translation of the Psalms and the Greek version found in the Horologion — they differ in thousands of places. The English has often been translated from the Hebrew Masoretic text which was compiled by Jewish scholars during the first ten centuries after Christ. These scholars used inferior texts or edited them to delete or minimize the messianic prophecies or types which refer to Christ. Surprisingly, this Hebrew version of the Psalms is used even though the Greek Septuagint is often used to decipher the Masoretic text which is often unintelligible since the vowels are not indicated.
Most modern English Bible translations are based on bogus versions of the Scriptures. Unfortunately, no English translation of the Bible has been made using the Byzantine text-type manuscripts of the New Testament since the King James Version (KJV) in 1611. The others are all based on the eclectic Greek New Testament manuscripts and various Hebrew Old Testament texts. The bottom line is that manuscripts which the Orthodox Church did not use or copy have been elevated above those texts which the Church has preserved by modern and contemporary Scripture scholars and translators. Sadly, but perhaps significantly indicative, is the fact that the scholars who put together those eclectic critical texts decisively reject the Byzantine (that is to say, Orthodox) text-type, claiming that the Byzantine text was corrupted by Orthodox copyists eager to conform the text of Scripture to Orthodox theology as it developed over the first several centuries of the Church's life.
The Orthodox stand on the Critical Eclectic Texts. As Orthodox, we cannot believe that the text of Scripture is arbitrary and governed only by human considerations — especially those of modern scholars who decide what is and what is not ‘authentic’. We see the presence of God and His providence in our daily lives; how can they be denied to exist in the Church and in the canon and text of the Holy Scriptures? Otherwise everything in our liturgical worship is suspect and unreliable. The human element cannot be ignored or denied, but neither can the divine. Yet most biblical scholars and textual critics wish to disregard any form of divine intervention or revelation in order to make their study ‘scientific’. In fact, present-day biblical scholarship hides its fundamental unbelief from believers and even from itself. It ultimately results in such ludicrous claims that Jesus Christ never spoke any of the words recorded in the Bible — claims that make the front page of national news magazines and mislead millions of people.
Perhaps the best example of the modern ‘scholars’ bias is found in the first chapter, first verse of the Gospel of Mark: ‘The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God’ The modernists drop the words ‘the Son of God’ because they are absent from the Codex Sinaiticus and papyrus miniscules 28 and 255. Yet they appear in all other copies and versions and in many quotations of the fathers!
Modern translations obscure the Divinity of Christ. In what can only be a return to the ancient heresy of Arius, even the much touted 1952 Revised Standard Version (RSV) translation of Scripture tends to minimize Christ's divine nature. Forty years ago the King James translation was widely impugned for being based on the Greek Byzantine texts which were called corrupt — an amazing accusation considering the pedigree of the eclectic critical texts. In the liberal theological milieu of that time, many Protestant theologians denied not only the virgin birth, but also the divinity of Christ and His resurrection. One curious feature of the RSV translation is its apparent mixture of old and new English; the older traditional second person singular pronoun, thou/thee/thy, is intermixed with the nondescript modern ye/you/you. While at first glance this seems chaotic, it actually serves as a hidden code. The traditional ‘thou’ usage is employed when God is addressed, but ‘you’ whenever anyone else is addressed. Note, for example, that the Our Father in the RSV retains the word ‘thy’ in referring to God's name, kingdom, and will. But note that in the RSV translation a leper addresses Jesus in Mark 1:40, Saying ‘If you will, you can make me clean’, and Peter says in Matthew 16:16, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ The only time in the RSV that Christ is addressed as ‘Thou’ is after He is no longer on earth, but even this is found mainly in Hebrews when Paul quotes from the Old Testament.
The clearly Protestant bias against the Theotokos, and her Orthodox definition as critical to preserving the divinity of Christ is also very evident in the RSV. Consider Matthew 1:25 (KJV): ‘(Joseph) knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son; and he called his name Jesus.’ But in the RSV: ‘(Joseph) knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.’ From the Byzantine, Orthodox, texts, the KJV tells us that Mary brought forth not a son, but her firstborn — precluding her having had previous children. Moreover, He is clearly her son; but not Joseph's. Note how the RSV is distinguished from the KJV in Luke 2:33; after Simeon returned Jesus to His mother, the narrative tells us (KJV): ‘Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him.’ But the RSV: ‘And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.’ The RSV infers that Joseph is Jesus' father, presumably his biological father — a clear refutation of the dogma of virgin birth.
Or again, consider the following notable omission in John 3:13. KJV: ‘No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.’ But the RSV: ‘No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.’
The Byzantine text is clearly reflected in the KJV; the eclectic text by the RSV. Yet only a tiny handful of manuscripts omit the expression ‘which is in heaven’ while the vast majority of manuscripts include it, as do the quotations of Church fathers such as Saint Basil the Great, Saint Hilary, Saint John Chrysostom, and Saint Cyril. This particular Scripture text is the clearest witness to the Orthodox teaching that Christ is fully man while not being circumscribed in any way as God, since it indicates that Christ was simultaneously on earth in the body and in heaven with the Father. It also indicates, contrary to modern liberal theology, that our Lord knew very well just Who He was, where He came from, and what business He was about.
There are many more examples, but let us simply note one more, I Corinthians 15:47, which needs no further comment. KJV: ‘The first man is of the earth, earthly: the second man is the Lord from heaven.’ But the RSV: ‘The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.’
The Corruption of ‘Paraphrased’ Bibles. There is no need in this article to provide such critical analysis of the various other translations which followed the RSV (e.g, NIV, NAB); all are even more flawed. A comment should be made, however, of several very dangerous paraphrased ‘versions’ of the Bible, such as ‘Today's English Version’ and the volume sold as ‘The Book’. If the Scripture scholars can criticize the Byzantine copyists for corrupting the text to conform to Orthodox theology, what are we to say about the non-Orthodox paraphrases who have radically altered not only text, but the whole meaning of various passages? These ‘Bibles’ are to be totally and completely avoided by the Orthodox; they have no good purpose whatsoever because they are gross distortions of the truth, and serve only to infiltrate a completely corrupted theology into the minds of the faithful.
The Orthodox Witness. One very interesting question, never asked, is this: ‘If scholars are willing to assemble an eclectic text out of Scripture fragments from various sources — often of unknown doctrinal origin or authority — why haven't they ever considered the living archeological evidence of Scripture segments that have been repeated faithfully for ages in the Orthodox Liturgy?’ Why haven't serious modern scholars considered the incredible ‘coincidence’ that 72 Hebrew scholars could all translate the Old Testament in exactly the same manner into the Septuagint Greek? Why haven't they examined the translation of the Scriptures done a thousand years ago from Greek into Slavonic, which has preserved exactly, accurately, and precisely the meaning of the Greek original? And, more to the point, if errors have crept in and accumulated as texts were copied over the years, why aren't the existing copies of these Greek and Slavonic Scriptures divergent?
Non-Orthodox scholars cannot answer these questions because, to do so honestly and truthfully, they would have to admit that in fact the Orthodox Church, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has preserved intact and correctly the Holy Scriptures. And, moreover, this preservation is in part assured by the dogma and doctrine of the Church which both draw from the Scripture and provide evidence and support of its truth.
What Translation Should I Use? The answer is this: the King James Version (KJV) is the most reliable and faithful English translation. Unfortunately, it is written in an archaic, 500 year old style of English. Although not as incomprehensible as the 2000 year old Greek of the New Testament and Liturgy is to modern Greek speakers, it is still awkward and difficult for many to understand. The real question that begs — indeed pleads — for an answer, is this: ‘Why hasn't the Greek Orthodox Church sponsored an accurate translation into modern English from the Byzantine texts and extant fragments of Scripture found in the liturgy of the Church?’
Source: Greek Orthodox Diocese of Denver Bulletin: March 1995, Volume 3, Number 3., pp. 14-17.