Monastics and family

I have a funeral in my parish. One of the sisters of the deceased is a nun. I was reminded of this quote from an unnamed monk from the Valaam Monastery I read in Serbian church magazine.

When asked about the importance of monastics and monasteries he said, among other things:

“….How many monasteries did Russia have! And every family, where there were at least nine children, would necessarily dedicate at least one child to God and give them to the monastery, so that the family would have an intercessor before God. This shows the deep spirituality of the people. Everyone knew that a monk would pray for the forgiveness of sins of family members up to the seventh degree.”

Is it Gerasenes or Gadarenes?

The following is taken from (here)

Gadarenes, Girgesenes, Gerasenes

(These three names are used indiscriminately to designate the place where Jesus healed two demoniacs. The first two are in the Authorized Version. (Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26) In Gerasenes in place of Gadarenes. The miracle referred to took place, without doubt, near the town of Gergesa, the modern Kersa, close by the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, and hence in the country of Gergesenes. But as Gergesa was a small village, and little known, the evangelists, who wrote for more distant readers, spoke of the event as taking place in the country of the Gadarenes, so named from its largest city, Gadara; and this country included the country of the Gergesenes as a state includes a county. The Gerasenes were the people of the district of which Gerasa was the capital. This city was better known than Gadara or Gergesa; indeed in the Roman age no city of Palestine was better known. “It became one of the proudest cities of Syria.” It was situated some 30 miles southeast of Gadara, on the borders of Peraea and a little north of the river Jabbok. It is now called Jerash and is a deserted ruin. The district of the Gerasenes probably included that of the Gadarenes; so that the demoniac of Gergesa belonged to the country of the Gadarenes and also to that of the Gerasenes, as the same person may, with equal truth, be said to live in the city or the state, or in the United States. For those near by the local name would be used; but in writing to a distant people, as the Greeks and Romans, the more comprehensive and general name would be given.–ED.)

Awesome photos of the revestment of St. John the Wonderworker

The official website of the Western American Diocese offers a photo-report of the revestment of the relics of St John

On Tuesday, October 25, 2011, in accordance with a decision by the Diocesan Council of Western America, clergymen of the diocese performed the rite of revestment of the uncorrupt relics of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco. This special rite was headed by His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America in San Francisco’s Cathedral of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow.”

Having made confession in advance and asking forgiveness of each other, the archpastors and priests performed a moleben to St John at 9 pm, after which they proceeded to perform the rite of changing the vestments. Every priest participating in the Pastoral Conference of the Western American Diocese was given the opportunity to participate in this rite. The attending protodeacons then intoned the corresponding prayers after the revestment of the holy man’s relics.

Serbs Want to be Russian

H/T: Theology and Society (here)

Throng of Kosovo Serbs Seek Russian Citizenship; 21,733 Request Citizenship for Russian Protection

The Russian website RIA Novosti reports on November 15, 2011 that more than 21,000 Kosovo Serbs have applied for Russian citizenship, according to Zlatibor Djordjevic, a spokesman for the Old Serbia movement.

“We have handed over 21,733 Russian citizenship requests to the Russian embassy in Belgrade,” Djordjevic said.

He said the letter — addressed to the Russian State Duma — will be delivered to the lower chamber of the Russian parliament via the Foreign Ministry. Djordjevic added that more Serbs may turn to Russia for protection.

“By all possible means, we tried to get protection from our country, but it pushes us back into the state which we refuse to recognize,” Djordjevic said.

Kosovo — a state comprised mainly of Albanian Muslims — seceded and declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008. About 10 percent of Kosovo’s two million people are Serbs, who are primarily of the Eastern Orthodox faith.

The Priestly Service [1]

Below is a homily delivered by Bishop Joanikije (from here) on October 22 at Monastery Kosijerevo. Translated from Serbian.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

To be a priest of God’s Church is a great honor because the priestly order is not from man but it is from God and it is from Heaven, according to a Divine and not human framework. When the priest is ordained, the bishop, as a man, reads the prayer over him, but it’s God’s grace which, according to the prayer of the bishop and priest and people of God is collectively extolled to God, descends and makes the priest a priest and remains on him for all times only if he remains faithful to God’s Church and the priestly vow. In today’s gospel we see briefly the grace of the priestly rank.  When the Apostles came to the Lord, after the preaching of which the Lord empowered and authorized them for, and they said to the Lord: “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” Therefore, it immediately clear, the demons, evil spirits would never submit to man but they submit to the fearful, mighty and powerful name of God. When the Lord says: “Behold I give you authority and power to trample serpents and scorpions and all the evil powers” here is also noted the grace of the priestly rank. It isn’t that important that man can grab snakes with his hands or that the snake’s venom can do him no harm. After all, there are medical means through which men are protected from the venom of snakes, rather it’s important that the Lord has given that power which rebukes even the most poisonous of animals.

It is the spiritual things which are referred to here, for the priest in his holy service has many beautiful and uplifting moments when his heart, enlightened through the grace of God, God’s mercy and God’s light, rejoices and sings together with the angels and glorifies the Lord. At the same time the priest also has difficult moments in his service and we mustn’t forget either one. At times he confronts such evil and human venom, such sins which cannot compare to the venom of snakes or scorpions with that venom which man bears in his soul. However, the priest is also there to help all of those who have difficulties. A person comes with the heaviest of sins, the greatest of sinful venom in their souls, perhaps they committed murder, perhaps they have other sins equal to murder, but if they have repentance they go to the priest to confess and cleanse their consciences. The priest reads the prayer to relieve them of their sins and, certainly, cleansing comes through intense repentance. The priest through his prayer erases many sins because the Lord descends to our human weakness and acts through the priest as through His faithful servant. And He also said to His Apostles: “Who hears you, hears Me” – and this should be understood verbatim; only if the priest, in his service to God, is truly sincere, dedicated and unreserved.

To be continued

An eternal reminder

H/T: Fr. Ted’s blog (here) on the rich man and Lazarus:

“Just as, when God expelled Adam from paradise, he settled him opposite the garden in order that the continual sight might renew his suffering and give him a clearer awareness of his fall from the good, so also He settled the rich man opposite Lazarus in order that he might see the good of which he had deprived himself. ‘I sent,’ he says, ‘the poor man Lazarus to your gate to teach you virtue and to receive your love; you ignored this benefit and declined to use his assistance toward your salvation. Hereafter you shall use him to bring yourself a greater punishment and retribution.’ From the poor man we learn that all who suffer curses and injustice among us will stand before us in that other life.

Indeed Lazarus suffered no injustice from the rich man; for the rich man did not take Lazarus’ money, but failed to share his own. If he is accused by the man he failed to pity because he did not share his own wealth, what pardon will the man receive who has stolen others’ goods, when he is surrounded by those whom he has wronged? In that world there is no need of witnesses, accusers, evidence, or proof; the deeds themselves just as we have done them appear before our eyes. ‘See the man,’ He says, ‘and his works: indeed this also is theft, not to share one’s possessions.’”

St. John Chrysostom