Monthly Archives: March 2012

Pre-feasts Here and There

We Glads just returned from tropical isles where the flowers were a feast for the senses, and an earthly foretaste of the beauty and glory of Pascha soon to be upon us. But when we arrived home the tulips I planted last fall were also out to welcome me, and lend some comfort to the travel-weary.

I hope to send along my Maui Diary blog after our Orthodox Easter, which is a week later than Western Easter this year. Too many blessed preparations to be making until then….

I promise that the following is not unrelated to everything else in this post: Were any of my readers sad and aggravated (as I was) when Longs drugstores were bought and replaced by CVS? To one or two people who write to me on that topic, at the e-mail address on my Blogger profile, I have a useful and whimsical thing I would like to give, if you include your mailing address. I’ll tell you what it is before I send it, so there is no risk involved — only fun. 🙂

Those of you who are preparing for the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, my heart and prayers are with you.

There is always a cost…

From Metropolitan Anthony Bloom:

There is always a cost to discipleship because, from start to finish, it means a gradual overcoming of all that is self in order to grow into communion with that which is greater than self and which will ultimately displace self, conquer the ground and become the totality of life.

And there is always a moment in the experience of discipleship when fear comes upon the disciple, for he sees at a certain moment that death is looming, the death that his self must face. Later on it will no longer be death, it will be a life greater than his own, but every disciple will have to die first before he comes back to life. This requires determination, courage, faith.

Looking isn’t always seeing.

St. Symeon the New Theologian

“How can one be fit to handle the divine teachings of our Lord if he or she has not first submitted to them and been transformed by them?”

In Orthodoxy faith is activity, not passivity.”

“The Orthodox find sin to be a much more serious problem than just personal guilt….there is also decay. It is not enough to treat sin as a category that Christ saves from; sin is a power that kills spiritually.”

These quotes are from Benjamin Harju’s blog series of reviews on Robert Koester’s book A Lutheran Looks at … Eastern Orthodoxy, in which Harju does a useful work in explaining Orthodox life and practice, as a response to a book written from one Lutheran’s point of view.   Read the first of five parts here.

Anastasia posted about this offering from her godson, a writer who is respectful and careful in his discussion and clear in his use of the language, all of which endear me to him. The review can be found in its entirety on the March 5-7 posts of his blog.

Comparing and contrasting one thing with another is an excellent way to refine one’s understanding of any subject, and the method works for me in this case, as Subdeacon Benjamin compares the East with the West, the truth of Orthodoxy with some misconceptions, and scholarly writing with propaganda.

All in all, Harju has to conclude that Koester did not “look well into the matter,” (my quotes). The reviewer himself, one can learn on his blog, converted from the Lutheran church to Orthodoxy, so he is familiar with both traditions, and points out on this post the context and starting point of Lutheran theology, that it “arose by seeking to reform Western, medieval, scholastic theology,” unlike the Orthodox tradition which is continuous from the apostles, and that he “learned to love Orthodoxy as the fulfillment of my Lutheran goal.”

The guests have nothing of their own.

The reading below, found for today’s date in The Prologue of Ohrid, has a specially Lenten meaning for me beyond its historical and global focus. There is no neutrality — either I am allied with Christ or I am “aligned with His enemies.” Any time the devil gets a victory in my life through pride or laziness, it is loss to His Kingdom.

So when St. Nikolai exhorts us not to be afraid of external betrayers and traitors, I can also apply faith and courage against principalities and powers that would distract and defeat me inwardly, reminding myself and them that “God is with us! Understand, all ye nations [nations of demons should be included here, right?], and submit yourselves, for God is with us!” (from a hymn sung the first week of Lent) Whatever our demons are, they are part of the death that Christ has defeated.

HOMILY — About the hand of the betrayer

“And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray Me is with Me on the table(St. Luke 22:21).

It is most difficult for a general to wage war when he has an enemy within the camp; not only external enemies, but internal enemies among his own. Judas was considered among his own. However, he was the enemy from within. Rows of enemies crowded and closed ranks around Christ and, from within, Judas was preparing betrayal. His hand was on the table which Christ blessed, and his thoughts were aligned with the enemies where darkest evil, hatred and malice seethed against the gentle Lord.

Is it not also the same today, that the hand of the many traitors of Christ are at the table with Him? Which table is not Christ’s? On what table are not His gifts? He is the Householder and He nourishes and feeds His guests. The guests have nothing of their own, nothing! All good and all abundance which is given to them is given to them by the hand of Christ. 

Therefore, is it not so that Christ is present at every table as a Householder and as a Servant? Therefore, are not those also the hands of all who even today betray Christ on the table together with Him? They eat His bread and they speak against Him. They warm themselves by His sun and they slander His name. They breathe His air and they rise up against His Church. They live off His mercy and they banish Him from their homes, from their schools, from their courts, from their books and from their hearts. They trample His commandments willfully, maliciously and ridicule His law. Are they not then the betrayers of Christ and the followers of Judas?

Do not be afraid of them! God did not command that we be afraid of them but wait to see their end. Our Lord was not afraid of Judas nor is He afraid of all the traitorous hordes until the end of time. He knows their end and He already has His victory in His hands. Therefore, do not you be afraid either. Adhere faithfully to Christ the Lord, both when it appears to you that His causes succeed and go forward in the world and then, again, when it appears to you that His causes collapse and perish. Do not be afraid! If you become frightened, perhaps your hand will be found clenched under the hand of Judas at the table of Christ.

O Lord, All-Victorious, sustain us with Your power and mercy.

–St. Nikolai Velimirovic