The works of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky)
Posted 13 June 2011 - 09:24 PM
For lack of paper editions, is anyone aware of translations of his work that can be found online? The ROCOR(MP) Bishop Alexander Mileant has some of his writings under the title of Selected Theological Works of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), which can be found here in two parts:
The translations, though, don't seem professional and can be difficult. Also, excluded from the Selected Works is, of special note, the Metropolitan's pamphlet on The Dogma of Redemption and a number of other texts that could be found in the Metropolitan's Towards an Orthodox Catechism, which the Metropolitan wrote to correct and supplement the Longer Catechism of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow. If anyone knows where I could find translations of these texts, it would be very much appreciated.
Posted 13 June 2011 - 09:47 PM
Also, excluded from the Selected Works is, of special note, the Metropolitan's pamphlet on The Dogma of Redemption
And this would be for very good reason. Metropolitan Anthony himself withdrew this particular essay from publication because it was controversial. Whether it was "easily misunderstood" or "heretical" is, I think, a distinction that depends on how it is approached - but in any case the fact that Metr Anthony himself withdrew it should be of some importance.
Pulaho (Synaxis press) translated it on his own and published it in English without the blessing of the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR (to which he belonged at that time). Puhalo was supported in those days by fathers of Holy Transfiguration who proved to be themselves a disruptive force in the Russian Church.
Metropolitan Anthony also wrote a number of other essays on the moral ideas of various themes in dogmatic theology such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit and the Church which were also translated by Puhalo. These are actually beneficial and good reading. I presume that if you contact Puhalo (the retired Archbishop Lazar of the OCA) directly, he would be able to provide a copy.
Fr David Moser
Posted 13 June 2011 - 10:04 PM
It was also published by Archbishop Nikon in his Collected Works, which was published in the seventies, I think. So, even if the Metropolitan withdrew it himself, I don't think that makes the article less worthwhile to read. It has been, I think, perhaps adequately defended a number of times by prominent Church figures, such that if one looks into it, they can avoid making the mistakes that others have made when reading the Metropolitan's work.
Posted 14 June 2011 - 12:41 AM
encouraged by St. Metropolitan Philaret himself,
I do think that the English translation was long after the repose and glorification of St Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow. If, however, you are refering to the ever-memorable Metropolitan Philaret of NY, he has not yet been glorified, nor has there been any proposal to do so put before the Synod of the Russian Church.
Fr David Moser
Posted 14 June 2011 - 01:45 AM
If, however, you are refering to the ever-memorable Metropolitan Philaret of NY, he has not yet been glorified, nor has there been any proposal to do so put before the Synod of the Russian Church.
Yes, I know that your synod has not glorified Saint Philaret. It would be a bit compromising for you all, considering his views on the Moscow Patriarchate.
That aside, I was really just pointing out that in the person of Metropolitan Philaret of New York the Synod Abroad actually blessed the publishing of the English translation of Metropolitan Anthony's Dogma of Redemption.
Posted 14 June 2011 - 06:21 AM
Posted 14 June 2011 - 08:02 PM
Posted 14 June 2011 - 08:44 PM
Posted 15 June 2011 - 08:23 AM
The autobiography is poorly written since there was grammatical errors everywhere.
The Divine Liturgy one is better but the writings went over my head as it seems way too advance for me.
You can find a few things about his books here:
The Father retired from updating his blog but last I read he had a reading group for The Moral Idea of the Main Dogmas of the Faith. Also published by Synaxis Press
Posted 15 June 2011 - 10:20 PM
There is a book called Dostoevsky's concept of Spiritual Rebirth by St. Anthony. Not sure when he was canonised by the Canadians as I can't find information on-line but that is how it is written by St Anthony Khrapovitsky.
But a list of stuff I have found on line are:
Letter to a priest on prayer
More Particular Definitions of the Church
On Patriarch Nikon
Paschal Epistle from 1922 and another from 1930
Sermon against the pogroms
Sunday of the blind man
Sunday of the Myrrh Bearing Women
The Basis on Which Economy May Be Used in the Reception of Converts
The Church’s Teaching About the Holy Spirit
The kiss of Judas
The Lazarus of the Parable and Lazarus who was Four Days in the Tomb
The Moral Aspect of the Dogma of the Church
The Spiritual Gifts of Youth
The Three Visits of Mary Magdalene to the Tomb of Christ
TO BELIEVE IN THE CHURCH
What is the Difference Between Orthodoxy and Western Confessions
Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:45 PM
The Divine Liturgy commentaries by Dostoevsky has nothing to do with Metropolitan Anthony.
Maybe you are thinking of Gogol's Commentary on the Divine Liturgy? The book on Dostoevsky is: Dostoevsky's Concept of Spiritual Re-birth by Antony Khrapovitsky (Synaxis Press).
Metropolitan Anthony has not been canonized by the Canadians.
Posted 16 June 2011 - 07:23 PM
Ephrem I shall make a post here:
Letter to a priest on prayer
FATHER AND FRIEND! I should have answered you long about the growing winter of faith and prayer and the means of struggle against this. But the same vanity which, as you acknowledge, disperses reverent feelings, has also deprived me of the opportunity to write to you for a month and a half. Today is the first Monday of Great Lent; I have just returned from the cathedral, where I read the Great Canon and, praying with the whole congregation, showered the reproaches of St. Andrew upon myself for my neglect of the eternal and my preference for the temporary. True, our hierarchical vanity is more involuntary than voluntary: There is the incessant reception of petitioners, clergy requesting transfer, those involved in legal cases, those applying for the front or wishing to take an examination; and papers upon papers without end. With all of this, however, I have still been able to make notes from memory for a major public lecture on a philosophical question and to write two long articles on contemporary church topics, but for that “one thing which is needful,” I have not found time until today. Our misguided education is the cause of this. I am not an enemy of what is called science, but it is personally annoying when I catch myself giving precedence to topics, even though they deal with theology, before those concerning the study of the spiritual life, which contemporary theologians view with a certain disdain, partly because very few understand these matters, but partly because these are better and more deeply spoken of by self-taught theologians, or even by those who are academic theologians, but who have, by their lives and their confession, renounced the theological “school.” There should be no such divisions and preferences; good Christians live according to the words of the Apostle, “Let each esteem others better than themselves” (Phil. 2:3), but competition and envy are particularly inappropriate where the heritage which we have received, i.e. the heritage of experience and study, is not the property of the author alone, but of all the readers as well, that is, a universal possession.
You write: “I am experiencing an involuntary hardening of the heart; my former compunction has disappeared; even more, against my wishes, there are moments of complete absence of faith at the most important moments of the Liturgy. I write to you, my spiritual father: Heal me! I want to pray but it eludes me. Can it really be that the Lord is depriving me of His grace?”
No, my friend: if, God forbid, this happened, it would be shown first of all by the fact that the person would not regret being in such a state; but if he dreads falling into such alienation, it means that divine grace is dear to him; and if it is dear, then it is not far from him. No one on earth responds to a person who calls to him with such readiness as our Heavenly Father, but we must know how to hear His response. Sometimes it is beneficial for us to perceive His chastisement (lest we think highly of ourselves), and through this to come to know our sins and to learn humility: in this schooling which is the most valuable of all, recognize His paternal response to our cry. No doubt you have read the paternal parable of Bishop Theophan the Recluse. If you heat a bucket containing water and pieces of ice, the water will not begin to heat up until every piece of ice, down to the last one, has melted; then the heating proceeds very quickly. Therefore, never think that the Lord has abandoned you if you have not felt compunction and living, joyful faith for a long time, even though you wish to experience these; the working of grace is shown in you, but for the time being in brokenness of spirit, and not in compunction.
Now let us consider those circumstances in which the Lord allows a person to fall into a depressed state of mind and to suspect himself of loss of faith. The first and least dangerous condition of struggle and doubt proceeds directly from spiritual inexperience and the absence of guidance from older persons. It sometimes happens that a young priest, or a young ascetic, makes it his practice, as it were to probe around in his mind, or putting it into bookish language, to analyze attentively his emotional state.
To begin with, he wept when he read the prayers in church on Pentecost Sunday; tears even came to his eyes when, in a moment of solitude, he recalled these mystical prayers. But then the idea comes to his mind to examine with his attention: how does this feeling differ from the feeling he gets when he communicates the Holy Mysteries? What exactly moves him in the words of these prayers: is this feeling of compunction repeated, if he calls these words to mind for the third time, for the fourth time, and so on? . . . . It is natural that tears would soon stop coming to your eyes; at these times, you are not praying, but doing research. Does this mean that your heart is indeed torn from God and that your soul has become alien to those repentant and all-embracing compassionate states of mind which were so characteristic of you in the past?
Of course not; but every feeling, even bodily sensation, weakens and, as it were, completely evaporates when we begin to make it a subject of our constant attention. Pinch yourself on the arm and, suffering pain, begin to reflect on how this pain differs from a pain in a tooth, in the head or in the chest; you will soon lose the very sensation of pain. About seventy years ago, a certain German scholar used a similar method to overcome a very painful toothache, which had been tormenting him almost to the point of fainting.
It is quite natural that the more spiritual feelings which fan our soul, as it were, with a “still, small voice”, become completely insensible if subjected to idle examination or reflection.
Such also is the feeling of faith, that is, the living sensation of the divine presence and the participation of God in your personal life, if, even in secular life, teachers and parents constantly say to young people who are senselessly given to reverie: “Don’t go rummaging around in yourself; you won’t be good for anything,” then such a condition is even more appropriate to spiritual life. When serene compunction comes to you, when the ray of divine grace reveals the face of God to you, and sacred awe, along with blessed joy, illumines your heart, do not ponder over your feelings, but surrender yourself to the flood of thoughts which are flowing into your soul, and put your actions and your life under examination, as Zacchaeus did when the Savior came to him, in order to advance in the correction of your life and in the service of virtue.
“Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold” (Luke 19:8). One must strengthen the good feeling and spiritual delight in one’s soul either by the podvig of struggle with one’s sins or by works of love. If those two blessed travelers on the evening after the Resurrection had not gone beyond “the burning of the heart” at the explanation of the prophecies, they would not have recognized Him with Whom they conversed; but they fulfilled the precept of hospitality: “they constrained Him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening and the day is far spent” (Luke 24:29). Only then were “their eyes . . . opened, and they knew Him.”
Such advice from the Gospel on how we must stabilize holy, prayerful and other grace-filled attitudes in our souls is pertinent also in other difficult situations in our spiritual life. Well, perhaps you will say: “I did not make it my habit to probe the state of my mind and ask myself, ‘What and how do I feel?’ This delving into myself has always been foreign to me, and all the same the tender feelings which visited me previously have abandoned me; grieved by this, perhaps, I even asked myself needlessly – ‘Do I even believe in God?’ – and I did not find a definite answer in my soul. I realize that I should not have done this, for I could not have lost faith in God; since I have not wavered in my convictions, nor have I yielded to any false teachings, I can be certain that faith remains with me, but where has that radiant feeling gone, which envelopes a believer when he thinks of God: I should not have begun to delve into this, but I am conscious of the fact that I have not had this feeling lately. What is the cause of this?”
We will now say something about the causes, but first I will remind you of the advice of the holy Fathers on how to behave during this kind of impoverishment. The Fathers speak thus: “The feeling of compunction is not your own, but a gift of God: what must be yours is the labor to receive it.” What kind of labor? Above all else, the labor of a virtuous life in general, and that in relation to the podvig of prayer itself in particular. The fathers strictly forbid us to wring feelings from ourselves, to strain our breathing, or to squeeze our tears. But what must the laborer in prayer strain? His attention! He must reflect on the words of the prayer, not just go through them with his eyes or voice, but represent in his mind what he is saying to God. Very often this happens to such an extent that prayerful compunction soon penetrates the soul and the fullness of contact with the Deity accessible to you will again be opened to you. If this, however, does not happen, do not be despondent: you tried to fulfill before the Lord that which was in your will, but now reflect on why the Lord, undoubtedly looking with love on your labor of prayer, has not granted you to hear His response.
I have said that there are various reasons for this; you mention distraction by worldly vanity. Simple distraction is eliminated by performing a set rule of prayer; but if the insensibility continues, it means that the snag was not in simple distraction, but in depression of the soul, caused by one or more anxieties. This is even spoken of in the Sermon on the Mount, at the end of the sixth chapter of Matthew. The Lord does not condemn prudence concerning our family and personal needs, but rather the oppression of our soul by them, when anxieties take hold of it to such an extent that it becomes almost indifferent “to the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness”. It is proper to imagine calmly the possibility, ever close at hand, of ruin, serious family needs, sickness, mutilation, and the death of those close to us, and at the same time to remember that if you did everything in your power to provide for your loved ones, then should God nevertheless see fit to subject you or your family to severe misfortune, it means that this is needed for salvation; for everything that happens to us not of our own evil will is done with God’s permission and, therefore, for our benefit, for the Lord neither does nor allows anything for us but good.
If you have reassured your heart in this way, following the example of the Church, you will conclude your petitions to the Lord with the surrender of yourself and of that which is yours to His holy will (“. . . let us commit ourselves . . . unto Christ our God”), and that sinful distraction, that is, depression of the soul due to cares and fears, will leave you, and you will again glorify God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Condescending to our weakness, the Lord does not forbid us to wish even external prosperity for ourselves and especially for others; He permits us even to pray for this, but He commands us to leave the fulfillment of such a prayer to the will of God, and not to grumble or even fall into despair if it does not turn out according to our wish, for we ourselves do not know what is more beneficial for our own souls and for the souls of those close to us. But of course, those who desire only happiness and more happiness for their children are far from Christian righteousness. In our insane times, such people are in the majority even in a believing society, and they do not understand that, believing in the Christian God, they look upon Him and upon their lives in a purely heathen way; “for after all these things do the Gentiles seek” (Matt 6:32).
One of the best means of struggling with the impoverishment of prayer which comes from depression of soul (although we must admit that it also comes from other sources) is a temporary withdrawal from the world and from one’s own people, that is, a journey either on a pilgrimage or to a monastery in order to prepare to receive the Holy Mysteries, and finally – confession, even if it is in the usual circumstances of one’s life, should it not be possible to leave them for even a short time.
Everyone already knows what irreplaceably valuable significance a spiritual talk with an experienced monastic elder has. This is known even from worldly stories, if not from experience. But the monastery is edifying in itself. And the monks or nuns, as well as the lay pilgrims, by their conduct and their standing in church, by the reading, singing, and prostrations are a living witness for us of that one thing which is needful. Earthly vanity, its passing importance, and the value of the eternal; the value of the soul and conscience – this is the lesson which no one spending as little as three days at a monastery as a pilgrim can avoid. It is impossible to see people who are praying fervently, having forgotten about earthly matters, and not experience a lifting up of one’s own soul. Sometimes, standing in the altar at the Kiev-Caves Lavra, I would cast a glance through the royal doors at the simple pilgrims standing in the front. On their faces shone that spiritual delight which is expressed in the short prayer “Standing in the temple of thy glory, we think we are standing in the heavens, O Theotokos, Portal of Heaven.” Try to be among such people and you will be filled with their spirit like Saul, who met the sons of the prophets on his journey (I Kings 10;10, 13).
Sinful distractions or “the sorrows of this life,” by which people “choke” the Word in themselves (Luke 8:14), are not the sole cause of temporary loss of the gift of prayer. Such a loss happens also as a natural retribution for: 1) sin not covered by repentance and 2) an evil intention, and even more so, a sinful passion which has crept into the soul.
A certain monk, after falling into a serious sin and terrified by the approaching anger of God, exclaimed: “O Lord, punish me however Thou wishest, only deprive me not of faith and repentance.” Sin covered by repentance will not drive the warmth of prayer from the heart unless we have become enamored of this sin to the degree of complete impenitence. The parables of the publican and of the prodigal son and of the good thief who obtained mercy, assure us of this. Hence, we learn that sin is not as terrible as impenitence. On the other hand, sin frivolously committed to oblivion, offences to one’s neighbor which are not covered by reconciliation, dreadful blasphemy (but of course, not simply “blasphemous thoughts” that attack one without guilt on his part), malicious threats, for instance, the threat of suicide, renunciation of the priesthood or apostasy from the Orthodox faith --- these all can be reasons that “my prayer shall return to my bosom,” as it says in the psalm (34:16). Similar offences against God’s commandments, although they were isolated occurrences and were committed to oblivion through human frivolity, still leave a dark, sinful stain on the heart and hinder the grace of the Holy Spirit from gaining access to it. But most of all, our heart is blocked from receiving this grace through a conscious concealment of sins in confession. Alas, monks and priests committing the latter often end their lives by suicide. May the Lord preserve everyone from such a lot as Judas’!
Therefore, until you understand why the spirit of prayer has with-drawn from you, try to remember whether you forgot about some serious sin that you committed, such as those just mentioned, and if you remember such a sin, make haste to mourn over it, and offer repentance before God and before your neighbor, if you have offended him.
Sin often occurs, however, not in the acts that you have committed, but in intentions and the inclinations of your heart. Sometimes this occurs through an already acquired malicious disposition, as with Amnon and Absolom; sometimes, simply born of lust or passion. Here especially, it is necessary to fear the passions of fornication, envy, ambition, and greed. The words of the Lord about the impossibility of serving two masters, God and mammon, pertain to this condition of the soul. The subjugation of the heart to one of the passions mentioned, even before its possession is expressed in any actions or undertakings, is shown immediately by the impoverishment of the gift of prayer. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). If the treasure after which you strive is high rank, or money, or sinful love, then your heart will not be delighted by intercourse with God, but standing at prayer, you will think only of how to finish it more quickly. And conversely, if such an impatient thought visits you during prayer, then the Fathers say: know that your heart is in the control of some subtle passion that is forcing out the joy of glorifying God and the thirst for knowledge of God through spiritual reading, which is beginning to seem boring to you. But you will say: “I have tested my heart, and I am guilty in none of the ways mentioned; not meaning, of course, that I consider myself passionless or sinless, but I hate my sinful habits or embryonic passions. I offer sincere repentance for my sins, but all the same, I have not found healing for my ‘stony insensibility’.”
Good for you, if this is so, I reply, for righteous anger is that which the ascetic directs not at people, but at his own passions, and if he behaves in this way, then although it still has not completely been driven from his heart, the passion, being lashed by holy anger, cannot drive the spirit of prayer out of your soul. “But all the same, this spirit of prayer has abandoned me: I do not pray to God for health, for family happiness, for wealth and length of years; I ask of Him only those gifts which are numbered in the prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian, which today, the first day of the Fast, is read sixteen times with prostrations to the ground. But the Lord denies me these gifts, for I feel this by my despondent state of mind, and this despondency persistently attempts to enter my soul.”
My friend! If it is like that, know that you are not alone, for Paul, who cannot be compared with us sinners, prayed thrice that the angel of Satan would withdraw from him, but he was not heard by God in this request (1 Cor. 12:7). “Lest I should be exalted” is the way the Apostle himself explains it. The impetuosity of a young soul, prospering in the knowledge of God, at times undergoes testing in patience and humility, as with the Old Testament Job or the New Testament Paul or, more ancient than either, Abraham. Do not give in to the spirit of despondency: best it with itself. What does this mean? This: the holy Fathers say that such a groundless attack of despondency is a direct action of the devil. Realizing from whence it comes, you have practically defeated it already, have conquered the spirit of despondency, for you will not want to accept a clearly demonic suggestion. The demon assaults us with despondency when he sees that our soul cannot be overcome by other passions. Thus say the Fathers. Therefore, answer the spirit of despondency in this way: “You wish to confuse me by the thought that God is far from me; but I know that He, by not revealing Himself to me, is testing my patience and teaching me humility. The very fact that you, and not some other spirit, have fallen upon me should rejoice and comfort me, since your approach signifies (in the absence of other reasons) that the other passions have not taken control of me, and you have seized on the passion of despondency as the last weapon available to you. Therefore, I will accept God’s testing patiently and repeat the words of the Apostle, which were read on Forgiveness Sunday: “For now is our salvation nearer than we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand” (Rom. 13:11-12).
Of course, all this concerns those who, after testing their consciences with prayer, do not find in themselves other causes for the impoverishment of the gift of prayer. They can expect with hope to receive within a short time the joyful explanation of their trial with which God comforted the Apostle Paul: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Cor. 12:9).
Of course, this does not mean some kind of miraculous revelation, for to solicit such a thing is an act of pernicious prelest; but we predict for the struggler an exposition of his internal perplexities through his subsequent compunctionate cast of soul, through the unexpected finding of a direct answer to its inquiry in the Sacred Canons, in edifying talks, or in the events of one’s life. And it is not necessary to consider oneself to have attained a high degree of spirituality (Phil. 3:13) in order to discern the response of Divine Providence to one’s search in the events of one’s life or in the replacement of painful perplexity by joyful glorification.
There! I have written you of the various hindrances in the way of drawing near to God, and informed you of the various circumstances when the rays of divine illumination do not immediately penetrate our soul. This sometimes happens with God’s ministers, but these trials grasp them when they are already able to understand and bear them with zeal. The Lord does not tempt anyone, that is, does not test anyone beyond that person’s strength, as the Apostle Paul assures us (I Cor. 10:13). “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him” (James (1:12).
I repeat: only those are rejected by God that have themselves rejected Him. But he that struggles, even though with torment of the heart, is being taught by God, so that, “having himself been tempted,” he may be able to “help those being tempted.” Give thanks to God, my friend, that you are working out a problem not about earthly needs, but about the gift of prayer, for the very desire to know all this has been impressed on your soul not without His grace-filled help.
“My soul, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If you endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons” (Heb. 12:5-7).
Sermon Against the Pogroms
Delivered in the Cathedral of Zhitomir on 20 April, 1903.
The joyous feast of reconciliation, the Resurrection of Christ, continues. We have completed the commemoration of the Thomas, who was the first to confess that the risen Jesus is our true God, and we are now singing of the deeds of the myrrh bearers. We commemorate those women who did not grow weak in their faithfulness to Christ even during the terrible days when He was betrayed and put to death, and who were accounted worthy to announce His resurrection to the apostles. The apostles would enlighten the world by proclaiming the resurrection, but these holy women had first enlightened the apostles with it.
In extolling their faith, the Church calls all of us to imitate this struggle and to participate in the preaching of the resurrection. We are called upon to become so penetrated by joy in Him that we not only forget about the evil done against us by enemies, but to forgive from our hearts their hatred toward us and not only forgive them, but even love our enemies. We must now strive to embrace with love all mankind, inviting them to share with us the spiritual ecstasy of that new life revealed so clearly to us, that everlasting life filled with blessed communion with God. Now is fulfilled that prophecy of Isaiah; "And everlasting joy ... illness, sorrow and sighing have, fled away" (Is 35:10).
The grace of Christ's resurrection shines brightly even in our corrupt age, and it shines not only on the pious but even on those who are unconcerned. During these sacred days, those who did not pray earlier now turn to prayer; even those whose hearts were hardened. We greet one another with the kiss of peace, and even the unmerciful and miserly find pleasure in showing love toward their neighbour. "Christ is risen and life springs forth" as the God-fearing voice of Chrysostom proclaims. But amidst such comforting circumstances in our Christian life, sorrowful, shameful news reaches us that in the city of Kishenev, on the very day of Christ's resurrection, on the day of forgiveness and reconciliation, there occurred the cruel inhuman massacre of unfortunate Jews.
At the very time when in the holy temples there was being sung, "Let us embrace one another and say 'brother' even to those who hate us..." yes at that very time, outside the church walls, a drunken, beastly mob broke into Jewish homes, robbing the peaceful inhabitants and tearing human beings into pieces. They threw their bodies from windows into the streets and looted Jewish stores. A second crazed, greed filled mob rushed in to steal the clothing and jewelry from the bloodied corpses, seizing everything they could lay hand on. Like Judas, these robbers enriched themselves with silver drenched in blood - the blood of these hapless human sacrifices!
O God! How did Thy goodness endure such an insult and offence to the day of Thy saving passion and glorious resurrection! Thou didst endure Thy terrible struggle so that we would be dead to sin and live in Thee (Rm.6:11), but here they cruelly and in a most beastly manner slaughtered those who are Thy relatives according to the flesh, who, though they did not recognise Thee are still dear to Thy heart as Thou Thyself didst say not long before Thou didst suffer in the flesh, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou who killest the prophets and stone those who are sent to thee; how often have I longed to gather your children as a hen gathers its chicks under its wing, and you desired it not" (Matt. 23:37).
O brethren, I wish to make you understand this so that you would comprehend that even today the Jewish tribe is dear to God's heart, and realise that God is angered by anyone who would offend that people. Lest anyone suppose that we are selecting words from the sacred scripture with partiality, let me cite for you the words of that man whom the Jews hated above all men. This is the man whom a company of the Jews vowed neither to eat nor drink until they had killed him (Acts 23:12) - Apostle Paul.
Hearken to the words of God's spirit speaking through him: "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing my witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen" (Rm. 9:1-5).
Startling and frightening word! Did you truly write them, Paul, you who came to love Christ, who began to live in Christ as Christ lived in you? For whose sake did you consent to be separated from Christ? Was it not you, Paul, who wrote the lines preceding this verse "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rm.8:38-39). Even the angels could not have done that which you would voluntarily have done for the sake of the salvation of the Jews - those who were your enemies, your betrayers, they who beat you with whip, chained you in prison, exiled you and condemned you to death.
Behold, brethren and marvel: these words of Apostle Paul are spoken concerning the Jews, even though they were opposed to Christ's faith. Lest your perplexity continue, that same apostle and martyr explaining in the following chapter, the reason for his love of the house of Israel! "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God" (10:1-2)
The words are confirmed in our own day by the life of the Jews. Observe for yourselves their dedication to their law, their preservation of the Sabbath, their faithfulness to their spouses, their love of work and their love toward their children, whom they encourage toward obedience. There was a time not so long ago when Christians excelled them in all these things, but in our present corrupt and degenerate age, we must look with regret upon all these qualities of the way of life of pious Jews. In our cities, the majority of Christians no longer distinguish between the ordinary day, feastdays and fasts, but have fallen into negligence and a loose life.
It is true that there are also some like this among the Jews, but from whom did they learn such a disorderly path? Alas, from those whose forefathers confess Christ, from European and Russian nihilists who, like toads, swarm over our land, whose books and newspapers poison the air around us like the plague and cholera.
The Karaim and Talmud Jews must be respected, but woe to both those nihilists from among the Jews and from among us, who are corrupting both family and society, who sow the seed of their contagion among Russian and Polish youth, and who are the main cause of the hatred toward the descendants of the holy forefathers and prophets beloved by the Lord. I am not speaking about respect for these nihilists among the Jews.
Listen as the blessed apostle further explains the reason for his warm, self-denying love toward this people; hear how he explains their unbelief and obduracy toward Christ "I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy" (11:11). If the Jews had all accepted Christ's faith, then the heathens who despised the Jews would have rejected it. If the Jews had all believed, then we, brethren, would not have become Christians, but would still be worshipping Jupiter and Venus or Perun and Volass as our pagan ancestors did. Be cautious, therefore, about slandering the unbelief of the Jews; rather grieve over it and pray that the Lord may be revealed to them. Do not be at enmity with them, but respect the apostolic word about the Israelite root and the branches that broke from it "Because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. " (11:20-21)
O Christians, fear to offend the sacred, even though rejected, tribe. God's recompense will fall upon those evil people who have shed blood which is of the same race as the Theanthropos, his most pure mother, apostles and prophets. Do not suppose that this blood was sacred only in the past, but understand that even in the future reconciliation to the divine nature awaits them (2Pt.1:4), as Christ's chosen vessel further testifies, "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written. There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins" (11:25-27).
Let the savage know that they have slain future Christians who were yet in the loins of the present day Jews; let them know that they have shown themselves to be bankrupt opponents of God's providence, persecutors of a people beloved by God, even after its rejection (11:28).
How sinful is enmity against Jews, based on an ignorance of God's law, and how shall it be forgiven when it arises from abominable and disgraceful impulses. The robbers of the Jews did not do so as revenge for opposition to Christianity, rather they lusted for the property and possessions of others. Under the thin guise of zeal for the faith, they served the demon of covetousness. They resembled Judas who betrayed Christ with a kiss while blinded with the sickness of greed, but these murderers, hiding themselves behind Christ's name, killed His kinsmen according to the flesh in order to rob them.
When have we beheld such fanaticism? In Western Europe during the middle ages, heretics and Jews were shamefully executed, but not by mobs intent on robbing them.*
How can one begin to teach people who stifle their own conscience and mercy, who snuff out all fear of God and, departing from the holy temple even on the bright day of Christ's Resurrection, a day dedicated to forgiveness and love, but which they i rededicate to robbery and murder?
O believers in God and His Christ! Fear the Lord's judgment in behalf of His people. Fear to offend the inheritors of the promise, even though they have been renounced. We are not empowered to judge them for their unbelief; the Lord and not we will judge. We, looking upon their zeal even though it is "not according to knowledge" (Rm.10:2) would do better to contemplate their fathers: the righteous Abraham, Isaak, Jakob, Joseph and Moses, David and Samuel and Elijah, who rose to heaven still in the flesh. Look upon Isaiah who accepted voluntary death for the faith, Daniel who stopped the mouths of beasts in a lions' den, and the Maccabbee martyrs who died with joy for the hope of resurrections. Let us not beat, slay and rob people, but soften their hardness toward Christ and Christians by means of our own fulfilment of the law of God. Let us multiply our prayer, love, fasting and alms and our concern for those who are suffering, let us be zealous about the true essence of the faith; let our light so shine before people that they may glorify our heavenly father and Christ. Let us overcome unbelief and impiousness among Christians first, and then concern ourselves with the Jews, "And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:20-21).
Sunday of the blind man
On the Sundays between Holy Pascha and the Sunday of All Saints, excerpts from the Gospel according to John are offered for reading.
That Gospel contains only a few events from Christ's life on earth, however it includes many of His discourses. As for the events in the fourth Gospel, they are narrated in a detailed and picturesque manner.
Such is the story of the healing of the man born blind, which is assigned as a Sunday reading in church - an event, every detail of which deserves attention.
Why did the Lord not content Himself with His all-mighty power, but rather tell the man born blind to go to the pool of Siloam and wash in order to recover his sight? The answer to that question is that the man born blind had to show his obedience to the Mysterious Interlocutor of Whom he knew only His Name, but not His Divine authority.
So what prompted the man obediently to fulfill the task given to Him by Christ - to go to the faraway pool of Siloam, located under the mountain?
Undoubtedly, it is Christ's imperative and majestic voice that fills his soul with awe and awakes in him a dim glimmer of hope.
To strengthen that hope, the Lord does not heal the man immediately, as He has healed people in other cases, but rather makes clay with His saliva and, having anointed his eyes with that clay, tests his obedience by sending him to wash in the pool of Siloam.
It was the Sabbath, and the Jews rejoiced not at God's benevolence but rather at the occasion to fall upon Jesus Christ's alleged violation of the Sabbath rest.
That was not the only time that the Pharisees would find fault with the Savior unfairly. In contrast to them, the common Jewish people did understand the true meaning of the Sabbath rest, as we know from another Gospel narrative. When the Lord had denounced a certain head of the synagogue for a similar objection, "all His adversaries were ashamed; and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him" (Lk 13:17).
The healing of the man blind from birth is another story: here the Jews' malice has already ripened for killing the Savior. Not only did their malice not relent at witnessing an obvious miracle unheard of since the world began (Jn 9:32), but instead it became extremely fierce and mingled with craftiness and hypocrisy. The latter shows in that Christ's enemies decided to put up an act of formal justice with the hearing of witnesses. They summoned the parents of the youth who had recovered his sight and subjected them all to formal questioning. They asked the youth how he had recovered his sight. His answer was, "A Man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight" (Jn 9:11).
"Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This Man is not of God, because He keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them" (Jn 9:16). The Pharisees asked the parents of the man who had regained his sight, but they answered evasively, "because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man confess that He was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue" (Jn 9:22).
Hence it is clear that only the man born blind did not know his Healer, whereas the people surrounding him already guessed that it was Jesus Christ. And so in malicious bewilderment "Then again called they the man that was blind, and said to him, Give God the praise: we know that this Man is a sinner'. . . Then said they to him again, What did He to thee? how opened he thy eyes?" (Jn 9:24, 26) They wanted to hear with certainty something about Christ violating the Sabbath. The healed man had already perceived their ill-will towards the Healer, and from the one being questioned he himself turned into a prosecutor and answered them, "I have told you already and ye did not hear: wherefore would hear it again? will you also be His disciples?" (Jn 9:27)
It is obvious that for the man born blind this argument clarified something he did not know before. Now he knew that the "Man called Jesus" Who had healed him was that very famous miracle worker being rumored about by the whole Jewish people.
However, such a bold response in the question of the blind beggar drove his enemies to indignation and stripped them of their sense of truth altogether. And then the man blind from birth directly rebuked them for such hardheartedness and made a sound judgment, "Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth... If this Man were not of God, He could do nothing." (Jn 9:31, 33).
And so the interrogation that set out under the banner of outward justice, but was inwardly filled with malice, ended in major violence, "'Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out" (Jn 9:34). The Evangelist's comparatively detailed narrative shows that people's unprejudiced mind is superior to hypocritical theological speculations and sham justice, which, when exposed, displays the hypocrites' abuse of power and cruelty and clearly scorns true justice.
And now the Savior meets the healed man and reveals Himself to him directly, as He did recently in His conversation with the Samaritan woman, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" To the healed man's question He gives an absolutely straightforward answer, "Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee" (Jn 9:37).The Lord honors him with a direct, unveiled revelation to reward his resolve to die for Christ.
Likewise our contemporaries should emulate such fearlessness, instead of that duplicity in relation to Christ that likens them to the parents of the man born blind, who valued their friendship with the contemporary Jews and other enemies of Christ.
One can say that everyone rejoices when they hear the troparion of the Resurrection. But they sometimes grow bored when it is sung often. This hymn, however, should be endlessly joyful to people: its continual repetition about the victory over death and the devil should be an infinite source of consolation. Therefore if this joy soon passes, it passes because one’s faith is not so living and strong. People find it difficult to believe because their souls do not especially love this victory.
They say: Thomas, who had been previously ready to die for Christ, also did not believe.
No, Thomas asked for assurances not because he did not believe, but because he desired an untroubled faith, for he longed for the resurrection and understood its significance.
Before their entry into Jerusalem, having learned that there would not be any external success but, to the contrary, that the Savior awaited suffering, the disciples thought that the same death awaited them as a reward for following Him. They were overcome by horror and fear, and then Thomas said: Let us go that we might die with Him [Jn 11:16]. Thomas had a loyal heart. How many of them were troubled when they learned that there was not, and would not be, any external success! When He was to them a great miracle worker, healing them and giving them bread, they believed; but when they learned that He was ready to accept and bear the great deed [podvig] of patience and suffering for the sake of their spiritual benefit – then they all ran away, their faith weakened and, if their conscience rebuked them, they easily found an excuse in themselves: we trusted that it had been He [Lk 24:21].
People say: if we had seen Him we would not have denied Him. This is not true: the majority of those who denied Him had seen Him, and they denied Him because they did not love spiritual values, and the victory over the devil spoke but little to their hearts; they desired external success.
Cases of full denial are not many. Normally a remnant of faith remains, and this half-acknowledgment and half-faith is perhaps even worse, and such half-believers are in the majority. If they were to be excluded from so-called believing society we would see that there are but few true worshippers. Church and cross, unity in Christ, unity in the name of the feat [podvig] of love – there is the outline of our relationship towards the Lord. But half-believers do not strive to understand either one or the other – unity or Christ’s love – in the way that Christians understand it.
Half-faith has many degrees, but one thing inevitably follows from all half-belief. Those who deny know both what they have denied and to what to return. But the half-believer does not have any such clarity and grows accustomed to a life guided by sophistries, half-truth, and hints at some sort of supposed truth.
Posted 20 June 2011 - 10:43 PM
Posted 21 June 2011 - 03:46 PM
Unfortunately in this case the year and exact context of the sermon is not referred to. Internal evidence however strongly suggests that it was given in the midst of WW1. That is why I am leaving certain sections of the sermon that in present conditions could be considered unnecessarily offensive.
Otherwise please regard this as a working translation that tries to keep to the sense and feel of the original but at the same time is comprehensible in English. At times I allow for fuller meaning of the original by providing two words separated by a /; where clarification is needed from the original into English I provide this at times in square brackets [ ]. Since these sermons are translated for reading aloud I hope that what is presented still carries some of the flavour of the original Russian of Metropolitan Anthony.
Such were the Russian People
That which is preserved in our Orthodox church, amidst our Russian flock and ministry, is high and beautiful, and which consists of its relationship to life and faith. The west regards this present life as being for pleasure, and religion as a means (even if this is a dubious idea) for maintaining its prosperity. The Russian people on the contrary, even if not being very firm in faith, understand/see life as being a podvig/spiritual struggle, they see spiritual perfection as the aim of life, as a struggle with the passions, in acquiring the virtues. In a word, in that which Europeans [us in the west] would not even understand, if you were to speak with them about such things. True it is that a great many Russian people have betrayed their beliefs, have openly renounced the holy faith; they have abandoned themselves to the most vile evils/vices; have robbed, killed, blasphemed, and have betrayed their homeland to its enemies and sold their souls to the devil. But it must not be thought that such people constitute the majority of the Russian nation; they only have been overwhelmed by the situation of these present sorrowful days, but the vast majority mourn this situation and are indignant over its criminal activities. Even those who have rejected the faith and homeland, are tormented in the depths of their hearts by pangs of conscience, and through the patient correction on the part of those who are wise, they quickly acknowledge their mistake and the terrible misdeeds by which they hoped in vain to kill the voice of their conscience and to enslave it to new godless teachings. However at the same time they continued to feel/sense that they had given in to fatal deception and blindness, whether under the influence of non-Russians or of criminals who lorded it over them [ie led them astray]....
Who would not abundantly weep when reading of the heroism of our soldiers, especially of the heroism of their brotherly love, when the soldier wounded by the enemies’ attack, now himself bandages his wounds [ie the wounds of his brother soldier], and bears him on his shoulders, carrying him to the emergency station? You will not find such heroic feats among the heretics, and do not ever believe/accept the false belief that has taken root in our society, educated by German governesses, that Lutherans & Catholics are not worse than the Orthodox.
The just mentioned heroism of the spirit, which is understood as bearing on life as much as on feats of heroism, is preserved only within the Orthodox church. And this is its celebration, the celebration of piety, the celebration of Christ’s truth upon earth. And it will be celebrated with the same enthusiastic glorification of the Shepherd of our souls as in years past, when the Church was referred to as a dominant/prevailing force. Indeed it [ie the triumph of heroism] will continue even in the event that our land would fall in full submission to [its] enemies, even if open persecution were to be directed upon the Orthodox. The Church will celebrate concerning its eternal salvation and in how its children go to Christ as He commands us: blessed are you when men shall hate you and separate themselves from you and revile and regard your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice on that day and exult, for great is your reward in heaven (cf Mt. 5:11-12). Amen.
Posted 19 May 2017 - 04:34 PM
Two direct quotes from this homily:-
"Every sinner is condemned by God to eternal death, but our merciful Lord Jesus Christ took upon Himself the death of all mankind and died for us on the cross, leaving to us the Holy Gospel as instruction on how to please God and thereby escape just punishment in the afterlife. The Holy Spirit inscribed all this in the Gospel, just as the master wrote in his letter, that he freed the guilty person from prison."
“I freed you, and took upon myself your just punishment from the king."
Chronologically speaking, could this document possibly post-date the 'Dogma of Redemption?"
Edited by Ken McRae, 19 May 2017 - 04:40 PM.
Posted 18 June 2017 - 01:28 PM
“The Cross of Christ was mysteriously proclaimed in advance and fore-shadowed from generations of old and no one was ever reconciled with God except by the power of the Cross. After our First Parents transgressed against God through the tree in paradise, sin came to life, but we died, submitting, even before physical death, to the death of the soul, its separation from God. After the transgression we lived in sin and according to the flesh. Sin “is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7–8).
“As the apostle says, “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh” (Gal. 5:17). God, however, is Spirit, absolute Goodness and Virtue, and our own spirit is after His image and likeness, although sin has made it good for nothing. So how could anyone at all be spiritually renewed and reconciled with God, unless sin and life according to the flesh had been abolished? The Cross of Christ is this abolition of sin.
“One of our God-bearing Fathers was asked by an unbeliever if he really believed in Christ crucified. “Yes”, he replied, “I believe in Him who crucified sin.” God Himself has borne witness that there were many who were His friends before and after the law, when the Cross had not yet been revealed. David, the king and prophet, says, as if there were definitely friends of God in his day, “How precious also are thy friends unto me, O God!” (Ps. 139:17 Lxx). I shall now show you, if you listen attentively for the love of God, how it was that people were called friends of God before the Cross…”
(From “On the Precious and Life-Giving Cross,” published in 'The Saving Work of Christ: Sermons by Saint Gregory Palamas'
ANY attempt, therefore, to diminish or minimize the utter importance and centrality of the Cross to Christ's redemptive work, as though it was somehow really unnecessary, is a heresy worthy of being condemned.
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