Δευτέρα 28 Μαΐου 2018

St. Andrew the Fool for Christ, who pretended insanity by day, but prayed to God all night long (May 28)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
St Andrew the Fool for Christ Orthodox Church
ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ για τον άγιο εδώ

Andrew was a Slav by birth. As a young man, he was enslaved; and was bought by Theognostus, a wealthy man in Constantinople, during the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise (son of Emperor Basil the Macedonian).

The saint's icons are from here
Andrew was handsome in body and soul. Theognostus took a liking to Andrew, and allowed him to become literate. Andrew fervently prayed to God, and with love attended church services.
Obeying a heavenly revelation, he adopted the ascesis of foolishness for Christ.
Once, when he went to the well for water, he tore off his clothes, and slashed them with a knife, feigning insanity. Saddened by this, his master Theognostus bound him in chains and brought him to the Church of St. Anastasia the Deliverer from Potions, so that prayers would be read for him. But Andrew did not improve, and his master freed him as mentally ill.
Andrew pretended insanity by day, but prayed to God all night long. He lived without shelter of any kind. He even spent the nights outside, walked around half-naked in a single tattered garment, and ate only a little bread when good men would give it to him. He shared all that he received with the beggars, and would mock them-to avoid being be thanked by them-for holy Andrew wanted all his reward to come from God. Therefore, the great grace of God entered into him and he was able to discern the secrets of men, perceive angels and demons, exorcize demons from men, and correct men from their sins.
Andrew had a most beautiful vision of Paradise and the exalted powers of heaven. He also saw the Lord Christ on His throne of glory; and he, with his disciple Epiphanius, saw the Most-holy Theotokos in the Church of Blachernae as she covered the Christian people with her omophorion. This occurence is celebrated as the Feast of the Protection of the Most-Holy Theotokos (October 1 [icon]). In a vision he also heard ineffable, heavenly words that he dared not repeat to men.

After a life of almost unparalleled harshness of ascesis, Andrew entered into rest in the eternal glory of his Lord in 911.
A Vision of St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ (1)

A monk in Constantinople was distinguished as an ascetic and spiritual father, and many people came to him for prayers. But this monk had the secret vice of avarice. He collected money and gave it to no one. St. Andrew met him on the street one day, and saw a terrible snake coiled around his neck. St. Andrew took pity on him, approached him, and began to counsel him: "Brother, why have you lost your soul? Why have you bound yourself with the demon of avarice? Why have you given him a resting place within yourself? Why are you amassing gold as though it will go to the grave with you, and not into the hands of others? Why are you strangling yourself by stinginess? While others hunger and thirst and perish from cold, you rejoice looking at your heap of gold! Is this the path of repentance? Is this the monastic rank? Do you see your demon?" At that, the spiritual eyes of the monk were opened, and he saw the dark demon and was greatly horrified. The demon dropped away from the monk and fled, driven by Andrew's power. Then a most radiant angel of God appeared to the monk, for his heart was changed for the good. Immediately, he went about distributing his hoarded gold to the poor and needy. From then on, he pleased God in everything and was more greatly glorified than before.

A Vision of St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ (2)

Once, St. Andrew was sitting with his disciple Epiphanius, talking about the salvation of the soul. Just then, a demon approached Epiphanius and began setting traps to distract his thoughts, but did not dare to approach Andrew. Andrew cried out: "Depart from here, impure adversary!" The devil drew back and replied maliciously: "You are my adversary, such as no other in all of Constantinople!" Andrew did not drive him away immediately, but permitted him to speak. And the devil began: "I feel that the time is coming when my work will be finished. At that time, men will be worse than I, as children will be even more wicked than adults. Then I will rest and will not teach men anything anymore, since they themselves will carry out my will in everything." 

Andrew asked him: "In what sins do your kind rejoice the most?" The devil replied: "The service of idols, slander, malice against one's neighbor, the sodomite sin, drunkenness and avarice-in this we rejoice the most." Andrew further asked him: "And how do you tolerate it when someone who first served you rejects you and your works?" The devil replied: "You know that better than I do; we find it difficult to tolerate, but we are comforted by this: we will probably bring them back to us-for many who have rejected us and turned to God have come back to us again." After the evil spirit had said this and much more, St. Andrew breathed on him and he disappeared.

A Vision of St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ (3)

Holy Andrew, walking one day along the streets of Constantinople, saw a great and splendid funeral. A rich man had died, and his cortege was magnificent. But when he looked more closely, Andrew saw a host of little black men capering merrily around the corpse, one grinning like a prostitute, another barking like a dog, a third grunting like a pig, a fourth pouring something filthy over the body. And they were mocking the singers and saying: "You're singing over a dog!" Andrew, marveling, wondered what this man had done. Turning round, he saw a handsome youth standing weeping behind a wall. "For the sake of the God of heaven and earth, tell me the reason for your tears", said Andrew. 
The young man then told him that he had been the dead man's guardian angel, but that the man had, by his sins, greatly offended God, casting his angel's counsel from him and giving himself over utterly to the black demons. And the angel said that this man was a great and unrepentant sinner: a liar, a hater of men, a miser, a shedder of blood and a dissolute man who had turned three hundred souls to immorality. In vain was he honoured by the Emperor and respected by the people. In vain was this great funeral. Death had caught him unrepentant, and the harvest had come without warning.

A Vision of St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ (4)

St. Paul was not the only one to be caught up into Paradise and hear "unspeakable words" (II Cor. 12:4). Over eight hundred and fifty years after St. Paul, this happened to St. Andrew. One winter night, holy Andrew was lying among the dogs on a dunghill, to warm his frozen body. An angel appeared to him and caught him up to Paradise (whether in the body or out of the body, Andrew himself was unable to explain) and kept him for two weeks in the heavenly world, bearing him to the third heaven. "I saw myself clad in shining garments like lightning, with a wreath of flowers on my head and girt with a kingly girdle, and I rejoiced greatly at this beauty, and marveled in mind and heart at the unspeakable loveliness of God's Paradise, and I walked around it with great gladness."
After that, Andrew writes of how he saw Christ the Lord: "And when a flaming hand drew aside the curtain, I saw my Lord as the Prophet Isaiah saw Him aforetime, sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up and surrounded by seraphim. He was clad in a red garment, His face shone and His eyes rested on me with great kindness. Seeing Him, I fell down before Him, worshipping before the awesome throne of His glory. I have no words for the joy that gripped me at the sight of His face; and now, remembering this vision, I am filled with unspeakable joy. And I heard my most merciful Creator speak three words to me with His most sweet and pure lips, which so sweetened my heart and inflamed it with love for Him that I melted as wax at such spiritual warmth." When St. Andrew asked also after this if it would be possible to see the Most-Holy Mother of God, it was said to him that she was for the moment not in heaven, but had gone down to earth to be of help to the poor and needy.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Andrew the Fool-for-Christ

Fool-for-Christ Andrew stood at night
Under the starry firmament, praying:
"O Most-High God, three Persons in one Essence,
Salvation and Revival of souls that slumber!
O sweet Jesus, sweeter than life,
Treasury of joy and eternal beauty,
Cleanse the shepherds, enlighten the kings,
Console the troubled and sanctify the whole world.
Do not separate even me, the sinner, Andrew the Fool-for-Christ,
From Thy holy people, O Lord!"
O Saint Andrew, full of God's wisdom,
You who taught the world by words of foolishness-
With the language of the world you spoke to the world,
And by feigned foolishness you glorified Christ.
Men despised you for your foolishness,
And their dogs rose up from their lairs and chased you!
You were God's altar on the rubbish heap of the world.
You censed the world with your prayers-
And the world is not worthy of this marvel.
Glory to you, Andrew, holy Fool-for-Christ!

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thou didst choose foolishness for the sake of Christ and didst make the crafty one foolish. Thou didst persevere with thy struggle in the midst of turmoil, and Christ has brought thee to paradise. Intercede with Him, O Andrew for those who honor thee.

Apolytikion in the Second Tone
For Thy sake, O Christ, Thy servant Andrew became a fool on earth. He heard the Apostle Paul proclaiming, 'We are fools for the sake of Christ.' As we now honor his memory we pray Thee to save our souls.

Kontakion in the First Tone
Thou didst finish thy life in piety, O godly-minded Andrew, thou wast a pure vessel of the Trinity and a companion of the Angels. May peace and forgiveness be granted, through thine intercession, to those who honor thee.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Of thine own free will thou didst become a Fool, O Andrew, and utterly hate the lures of this world. Thou didst deaden carnal wisdom through hunger and thirst, through heat and bitter frost. By never avoiding the hardships of weather thou didst purify thyself as gold in the furnace.

See also

The Marvelous Death and Translation to Heaven of a Holy Fool (St. Symeon the Fool for Christ (Feast Day - July 21)

Τετάρτη 23 Μαΐου 2018

Faith And Science In Orthodox Gnosiology and Methodology

From Here


A. Problem or pseudo-problem?

The antithesis and consequent collision between faith and science is a problem for western (Franco-Latin) thought and is a pseudo-problem for the Orthodox patristic tradition. This is based upon the historical data of these two regions.
The (supposed) dilemma of faith versus science appears in Western Europe in the 17th century with the simultaneous development of the positive sciences. About this same time we have the appearance of the first Orthodox positions on this issue. It is an important fact that these developments in the West are happening without the presence of Orthodoxy. In these recent centuries there has been a spiritual estrangement and differentiation between the [rational] West and the Orthodox East. This fact is outlined by the de-orthodoxiation and de-ecclesiastication of the western European world and the philosophication and legalization of faith and its eventual forming as a religion in the same area. Thus religion is the refutation of Orthodoxy and, according to Fr. John Romanides, the sickess of the human being. Therefore, Orthodoxy remained historically as a non-participant in the making of the present western European civilization, which is also a different size than the civilization of the Orthodox East.
The turning points in western Europeans course of alteration include: scholasticism (13th century), nominalism (14th century), humanism/renaissance (15th century), Reformation (16th century) and the Enlightenment (17th century). It is a series of revolutions and, at that same time, breaches in the structure of western European civilization, that was created by the dialectic of these two movements.
Scholasticism is supported on the adoption of the Platonic realia. Our world is conceived of as an image of the transcendent universalia (realism, archetype). The instrument of knowledge is the mind-intellect. Knowledge (including knowing God) is accomplished through the penetration of logic in the essence of beings. It is the foundation of metaphysic theology, which presupposes the Analogia Entis, the consequitive ontological relation between God and the world, the analogy between the created and uncreated. Nominalism accepts that the universalia are simple names and not beings as in realism. It is a struggle between Platonism and Aristotelian thought in European thought. However, nominalism turned out to be the DNA, in a way, of European civilization, whose essential elements are dualism philosophically and individualism (eudomenism) socially. Prosperity will become the basic quest of the western man, theologically based on the scholastic theology of the middle ages. Nominalism (that is dualism) is the foundation of scientific development of the western world, that is the development of the positive sciences.
The Orthodox East had had another spiritual evolution, under the guidance of its spiritual leaders the saints � and of those who followed them, the true believers--who remained loyal to the prophetic-apostolic-patristic tradition; this tradition stands at the opposite end of scholasticism and all the historic spiritual developments in the European word. In the East, hesychasm or prayer of the heart is dominant (and is the backbone of patristic tradition) it is expressed with the ascetically experienced participation in the Truth as communion with the Uncreated. The faith in the possibility of the joining of God and the world (the Uncreated and the created) within history is preserved in the Orthodox East. This, however, means the rejection of every form of dualism. Science, to the degree it developed in Byzantium/Romania, developed within this framework.
The scientific revolution in Western Europe of the 17th Century, contributed to the separation of the fields of faith and knowledge. It resulted in the following axiomatic principle: New (positive) philosophy only accepts truths which are verified through rational thought. It is the absolute authority of Western thinking. The truths of this new philosophy are the existence of God, soul, virtue, immortality, and judgment. Their acceptance, of course, can only take place in a theistic enlightenment, since we also find atheism as a structural element of modern thought. The ecclesiastical doctrines that are rejected by rationality are the Triune nature of God, the Incarnation, glorification, salvation, etc. This natural and logical religion, from the Orthodox viewpoint, not only differs from atheism but is much worse. Atheism is less dangerous than its distortion! 
B. Orthodox Gnosiology

It has been said that in the East the antithesis between faith and science is a pseudo-problem, Why? Because gnosiology in the East is defined by the object to be known which is twofold: the Uncreated and the created. Only the Holy Trinity is Uncreated. The universe (or universes) in which our existence is realized, is created. Faith is knowledge of the Uncreated, and science is knowledge of the created. Therefore, they are two different types of knowledge, each having its own method and tools of inquiry.
The believer, moving within the territory of supernatural, or knowledge of the Uncreated, is not called to learn something metaphysically or to accept something logically, but to experience God by being in communion with Him. This is accomplished by introducing him to a way of life or method which leads to divine knowledge.
It has been correctly stated that if Christianity were to appear for the first time in our era, it would have taken the form of a therapeutic institution, a hospital to reinstate and restore the function of man as a psychosomatic being. That is why Saint John Chrysostom calls the Church a spiritual hospital. Supernatural-theological knowledge is understood in Orthodoxy as pathos (experience of life), as participation and communion with the transcendent and not an unreachable personal truth of the Uncreated and certainly not a mere exercise in learning. Thus, the Christian faith is not the abstract contemplative adoption of metaphysical truths, it is rather, the experience of beholding True Being: the experience of the Supersubstantial (Superessential) Trinity.
This clearly expresses that in Orthodoxy, authority is found in experience. The experience of participating in the Uncreated, of seeing the Uncreated (as expressed by the terms and "theosis" and "glorification"), and is not based on texts or in the Scriptures. The tradition of the Church is not preserved within texts but in people. Texts help, but they are not the bearers of the Holy Tradition. Tradition is preserved by the Saints. Human beings are the bearers of the Gospel. The placing of texts above the actual experience of the Uncreated (an indication of the religionizing of faith) leads to their ideologization and in fact to their idolization. This in turn leads to the absolute authority of the text (fundamentalism) and all the well understood consequences.
The presupposition of the function of knowing the Uncreated, for Orthodoxy, is the rejection of every analogy (either Entis or Fide) in this relationship of the created and the Uncreated. St. John of Damascus summarizes this previously extant patristic tradition in the following manner: It is impossible to find, in creation, an icon that would reveal the way of existence of the Holy Trinity. Because, how could it be possible for the created, which is complex and changeable and describable, which has shape and is perishable, to clearly reveal Superessential Divine Essence, which is free of all these categories? (P.G. 94,821/21).
Therefore, it now becomes apparent why school education and philosophy more specifically, according to the patristic tradition, are not presuppositions for knowledge of God (theognosia). Alongside the great academic St. Basil the Great (+379) we also give honor to St. Anthony (+350), who by wordly standards was not wise. Yet they are both teachers of the faith. Both witness to knowledge of God, St. Anthony as someone uneducated and St. Basil as someone who was more highly educated than Aristotle. St. Augustine (+430) differs (something that the West would find very painful, if they knew about it) from patristic tradition at this point when he ignores scriptural and patristic gnosiology and is in essence a Neo-platonist! With his axiom credo ut intelligam (I believe in order to understand) he introduced the principle that man is lead to a logical conception of Revelation through faith. This gives priority to the intellect (the mind), which is considered by this form of knowledge to be the instrument or tool of knowing both the natural as well as the supernatural. God is considered as a knowable object that can be conceived of by the human intellect (mind) just as any natural object can be conceived of. After St. Augustine the next step in this evolution (with the intervention of the scholasticism of Thomas Aquinas+1274) will be made by Decartes (+1650) with his axiom cogito, ergo sum (I think therefore I am) in which the intellect (mind) is declared as the main basis of existence.
C. The two types of knowledge 

It is the Orthodox Tradition that puts and end to this theoretical collision within the field of gnosiology. It does so by differentiating the two types of knowledge and of wisdom:
  1. divine or that which "from above" and
  2. secular (thyrathen) or lower.
The first knowledge is supernatural and the second is natural. This corresponds to the clear distinction between the Uncreated and the created, between God and creation. These two types of learning require two methods of learning. The method of divine wisdom-knowledge is the communion of man with the Uncreated through the heart. It is accomplished through the presence of the Uncreated energy of God in man's heart. The method of secular wisdom-knowledge is science, it is accomplished by exercising the intellectual/ logical power of man. Orthodoxy establishes a clear hierarchy in the two types of knowledge and their methods.
The method of supernatural gnosiology, in the Orthodox Tradition, is called hesychasm and is identified with watchfulness and purification (nepsis and katharsis) of the heart. Hesychasm is identified with Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy, patristically speaking, is inconceivable outside its hesychastic practice. Hesychasm in its essence, is the ascetic-curative practice of cleansing the heart of passions to rekindle the noetic faculty within the heart. It must be noted at this point, that the method of hesychasm as a curative practice is also scientific and practical. Therefore, theology, under proper conditions, belongs to the practical sciences. Theology's academic classification among the theoretical sciences or arts began in the 12th century in the west and is due to the shift of theology into metaphysics. Therefore, those in the East who condemn our own theology, demonstrate their Westernization, since they, essentially, condemn and reject a disfigured caricature of what they regard as theology. But what is the noetic function? In the Holy Scriptures there is, already, the distinction between the spirit of man (his nous) and the intellect (the logos or mind). The spirit of man in patristics is called nous to distinguish it from the Holy Spirit. The spirit, the nous, is the eye of the soul (see Matt. 6:226).
The noetic faculty is called the function of the nous within the heart and is the spiritual function of the heart, its parallel function is the heart as the organ that pumps the blood throughout our bodies. This noetic faculty is a mnemonic system that exists with the brain cells. These two are known and are detectab1e from human science, which science cannot, however, conceive of the nous. When man attains illumination by the Holy Spirit and becomes the temple of God, self-love changes to unconditional love and it then becomes possible to buiId real social relations supported upon this unconditional reciprocity (a willingness to sacrifice for our fellow man) rather than a self- interested claim of individual rights according to the spirit of western European society.
Thus some important consequences are understood: First, that Christianity in its authenticity is the transcendence of religion and a conception of the Church as merely an institution of rules and duties. Furthermore, Orthodoxy cannot be conceived as an adoption of some principles or truths, imposed upon from above. This is the non-Orthodox version of doctrines (absolute principles, imposed truths). Conceptions and meanings in Orthodoxy are examined through their empirical verification. The dialectical-intellectual style of thinking about theology, as well as dogmatizing, are alien to authentic Orthodox Tradition.
The scientist and professor of the knowledge of the Uncreated, in the Orthodox Tradition, is the Geron/Starets (the Elder or Spiritual Father), the guide or "teacher of the desert". The recording of both types of know1edge presupposes empirica1 knowledge of the phenomenon.
The same holds true in the field of science, where only the specialist understands the research of other scientists of the same field. The adoption of conclusions or findings of a scientific branch by non-specialists (i.e. those who are unable to experimentally examine the research of the specialists) is based on the trust of the specialists credibility. Otherwise, there would be no scientific progress.
The same holds true for the science of faith. The empirical knowledge of the Saints, Prophets, Apostles, Fathers and Mothers of all ages is adopted and founded upon the same trust. The patristic tradition and the Church's Councils function on this provable experience. There is no Ecumenical Council without the presence of the glorified/deified (theoumenoi), those who see the divine (this is the problem of the councils of today!) Orthodox doctrine results from this relationship.
Therefore, Orthodox faith is as dogmatic as science is. Those who speak of bias in the filed of faith, must not forget the words of Marc Bloch, that all scientific research is biased from the beginning, otherwise research could not have been possible. The same holds true of faith. Orthodoxy, makes a distinction between the two types of knowledge (and wisdom), and their methods and tools, thus, avoiding any confusion between them as well as any conflict. The road remains open to confusion and conflict only where the conditions and essence of Christianity are lost. However, in the Orthodox environment, some illogical analogies exist. Such as the possibility of having someone who excels in science, yet with regard to divine knowledge is a child spiritually; and vice-versa, someone who is great in divine knowledge and completely illiterate in human wisdom as the aforementioned St. Anthony the Great. Nothing, however, precludes the possibility of possessing both types of wisdom/knowledge, as is the case of the Great Fathers and Mothers of the Church. This is exactly what the Church hymns for the 3rd century mathematician Saint Catherine the Wise as possessing both types of knowledge: The martyr having received God's wisdom since childhood, learned all secular wisdom well...
D. God-Man dialectic

Thus the Orthodox believer experiences in the correlation of the two knowledge-wisdoms a God-man dialectic. And to use the Christological terminology, every knowledge must stay put and move within its limits. The problem of the limits of each kind of knowledge is put thus: The surpassing of those limits leads to the confusion of their functions and finally to their conflict. According to the above, the Holy Fathers defended the correct use of science and education. Saint Gregory the Theologian states: "Education should not be dishonored." The same Father in his second theological Oration also sets the limits of both kinds of wisdom. Saint Gregory says that the ancient sage (Plato in Timaeus) said: "It is difficult to know God and impossible to express Him [verbally]." However the same Greek yet Christian St. Gregory understands that it is impossible to express (describe) God with words, moreover it is absolutely impossible to understand Him! That is, Plato has already pointed out the limits of human reason and it is important to add that there is no rationalism in the ancient Greek philosophy. Saint Gregory also demonstrates the impossibility of surpassing those limits and the conception of the Uncreated by means of the knowledge of the created.
The distinction and simultaneous hierarchy of the two kinds of knowledge have been pointed out by Saint Basil the Great when he states that faith must prevail in words concerning God and the proofs made by reason. That faith originates from the action and energy of the Holy Spirit. Faith for St. Basil is the illumination of the Holy Spirit in the heart. (P.G. 30,104B-105B). He also gives a classic example of the Orthodox use of scientific knowledge in his Hexameron (P.G. 29, 3-208). He repudiates the cosmological theories of the philosophers on the eternity and self-existence of the world and proceeds to the synthesis of biblical and scientific facts, through which he surpasses science. Furthermore, by rejecting materialistic and heretical teachings, he gets to the theological (but not metaphysical) interpretation of the nature of creation. The central message of this work is, that the logical support of dogma is impossible based only on science. Dogma belongs to another sphere. It is above reason and science, yet within the limits of another knowledge. The use of dogma with wordly knowledge leads to the transformation of science into metaphysics. Whereas the use of reason in the domain of faith proves its weakness and relativity. Therefore, there is no belief that is not searched in Orthodox gnosiology, but each field is searched with its own criteria: Science with its presuppositions and Divine Knowledge with its presuppositions.
The most tragic expression of the alienated Christian body is the ecclesiastica1 attitude in the West towards Galileo. The case could be characterized as surpassing the limits of jurisdiction. But it is much more serious, it is the confusion of the limits of knowledge and their conflict. It is a fact that this loss of the wisdom from above in the West and the way of achieving it have caused the intellect (mind) to be used as a tool of not only human wisdom, but of Divine Wisdom too. The use of the intellect in the field of science leads unavoidably to the rejection of the supernatural as incomprehensible, and its use in the field of faith can lead to the rejection of science when it is considered to be in conflict with faith. This same way of thinking and the same loss of criteria is also betrayed by the rejection of the Copernican system in the East (1774-1821). Science, in turn, takes its revenge for the condemnation of Galilee by the Roman Church, in the person of Darwin, with his theory of evolution.
E. Transplantation of the Western Problem to the Orthodox East 

The European Enlightenment consisted of a struggle between physical empiricism and the metaphysics of Aristotle. The Enlighteners are philosophers and rationalists as well. The Greek Enlighteners, with Adamantios Korais as their patriarch, were metaphysical in their theology and it was they who transported the conflict between empiricists and metaphysicists to Greece. However, the Orthodox monks of Mount Athos, the Kollyvades and other Hesychast Fathers remained empiricists in their theological method. The introduction of metaphysics in our popular and academic theology is due, principally, to Korais. For this reason Korais became the authority for our academic theologians, as well as for the popular moral movements. This means that the purification of the heart has ceased to be considered as a presupposition of theology and its place has been taken by scholastic education. the same problem appeared in Russia at the time of Peter the Great (17-18th century). Thus the Fathers are considered to be philosophers (principally Neo-platonists like St. Augustine) and social workers. This has become the prototype of the pietists in Greece. Furthermore, Hesychasm is rejected as obscurantism. The so-called progressive ideas of Korais comprise from the fact that he was a supporter of the Calvinistic and not the Roman Catholic use of metaphysics, and his theological works are intense in this Calvinistic pietism (moralism).
However, for the Fathers,Orthodoxy is anti-metaphysical, as it continually searches empirical certainty, by means of the hesychastic method. This is why the hesychasm of the Kollyvades is empirical and scientific. Ratio according to Saint Nicodemus the Hagiorite is empirical. This is illustrated by the Hesychasts of the 18th century in the way in which they accept the scientific progress of the West. The Kollyvades acknowledged scientific viewpoints like, for example, Saint Nicodemos the Hagiorite did in his work, Symbouletikon, where he accepts the latest theories of his time on the functioning of the heart. Saint Athansios Parios does not fight science itself, but its use by the Westernized Enlighteners of the Greek nation. They regarded science as God's work and as an offering for the improvement of life. But the use of science in a metaphysical struggle against faith, as was practised in the West, and as was transferred to the East, is opposed quite rightly by the traditional theologians of the 18th and 19th century. The mistakes lies on the side of the Greek Enlighteners who, without having any relationship with the patristic viewpoint of knowledge, although they themselves were priests and monks, transferred the European conflict of metaphysicists and empiricists to Greece, talking about irrational religion. Whereas, the Fathers of Orthodoxy, discriminating between the two kinds of knowledge making a distinction at the same time between the rational from the super-rational.
The problem of conflict between faith and science, apart from the confusion of knowledge, has caused the idoloziation of the two kinds of knowledge. Thus, a weak and morbid apologetic has resulted in Christianity (e.g. a Greek professor of Apologetics many years ago produced a mathematical proof of the existence of God !). In Orthodoxy, however, this dualism is not self-evident. Nothing excludes the co-existence of faith and science when faith is not imaginary metaphysics and science does not falsify its positive character with the use of metaphysics. The mutual understanding of science and faith is helped by current scientific language.
The principle of indetermination (that there is no causality) is a kind of apophatism in science. The return to the Fathers therefore, helps to overcome the conflict. The acceptance of the limits of the two kinds of knowledge (Uncreated and created) and the use of the suitable organ or tool for each one, is the element of Orthodoxy and of the Fathers which places earthly wisdom under higher or divine knowledge.
In contrast, the confusion of the two types of knowledge in Western thought promotes their mutual misinterpretations and continues and fosters their conflict. A Church which persists in metaphysical theology, will always be obliged to beg Galileo's pardon. But a Science that also ignores its limits, will deteriorate into metaphysics and will either deal with the existence of God (which is not its responsibility) or reject God completely.
See also
Christianity and Science(tag)

Κυριακή 20 Μαΐου 2018

St. Lydia of Philippi (Macedonia, North Greece), the first Europian Christian Woman

Orthodox Church in America
While Saint Paul was at Troas, he beheld a certain Macedonian in a dream (Acts 16:9), who entreated him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” He heeded this voice as if it were the voice of God, and he decided to journey to Macedonia without delay, accompanied by Saints Timothy, Silas, and Luke.
They disembarked at Neapolis and made their way to Philippi. On the outskirts of Philippi, on the banks of a river, there was a Jewish place of prayer. It was the Sabbath and, to the women who had gathered there, the Apostle of the Gentiles preached the Word of God in Europe for the first time.
The God-fearing women listened to the words of this unknown Jew carefully and with reverence. The one who was most enthusiastic was St. Lydia, a proselyte and a seller of purple from Thyatira. As she listened, the Lord opened her heart to heed the words that were being spoken by Saint Paul. When she heard him talk about the Messiah, she accepted the truth of what he said and she believed in Christ.
Saint Lydia and her entire household were baptized in the waters of the river. Thus, she became the first woman of Macedonia to be enrolled as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. Her heart was filled with gratitude toward those who had opened the eyes of her soul, and so she asked them to accept the hospitality of her house. “If you have judged me to be a believer in the Lord, come to my house and remain there.” And she insisted that they should come (Acts 16:15).
The Orthodox Church honors Saint Lydia as an Equal of the Apostles, and at the holy place of her baptism on the banks of the Zygaktos River, a baptistery has been built, which is similar to the early Christian basilicas of Philippi.
Saint Lydia is commemorated on March 23 (Slavic usage) and on May 20 (Greek usage). She was glorified by the Church of Constantinople on May 23, 1972. 

Τρίτη 15 Μαΐου 2018

Deification - The Uncreated Light

Orthodox Way of Life
Ελληνικά για το θέμα: Βλέποντας το Θεό
Deification is an enhypostatic* and direct illumination which has no beginning but appears in those worthy as something exceeding their comprehension.  It is indeed a mystical union with God, beyond mind and reason in the age when creatures will no longer know corruption. - 
Saint Maximus the Confessor
Deification is most often expressed as involving the "Uncreated Light."

Fr. Sophrony says,
This Light penetrates us with the power of God, we we become 'without beginning'––not through our origin but by the gift of Grace: life without beginning is communicated to us.  And there is no limit to the outpouring of the Father's love: man becomes identical with God––the same by content, no by primordial Self-Being.  God will eternally be GOD for the reasonable being."  (We Shall See Him as He Is, p172.)
It is though our participation in this uncreated light that we become deified, become like Christ.  We do not become a god in essence but by Grace and adoption.  We are  taught that we can never behold, or know the Divine Essence, but when we are filled with this Divine Light we experience His Uncreated Energies. This is a personal communion with God, face to face. Our identity is not assumed into the Divine Essence. And, it is much more than an experience of Light.
Saint Symeon the New Theologian
Here is how Saint Symeon the New Theologian expresses it in one of his hymns,
He Himself is discovered within me, resplendent inside my wretched heart, enlightening me from all sides with His immortal splendor, shining on all of my members with His rays.  Entirely intertwined with me, He embraces me entirely.  He gives Himself totally to me, the unworthy one, and I am filled with His love and beauty.  I am sated with pleasure and Divine tenderness.  I share in the Light.  I participate also in the glory. My face shines like that of my beloved and all my members become bearers of Light.
* Fr. John Meyendorff explains the meaning of enhypostatic: "This divine light cannot be contemplated as a hypostasis, that is, as an independent reality, since strictly speaking it has no essence. It can be contemplated only in a hypostasis, i'e', in a personal locus. Here Palamas has in mind the deified saints who by grace show forth in their whole persons the light that transforms them. But the energies are also "enhypostatic" in respect of the Person (hypostasis) of Christ. The light of tabor does not reveal the divine essence, but the second person of the Trinity. As well as meaning "what exists in another hypostasis", enhypostatic can also mean "what really exists"' that which is genuine or authentic, e.g. of our real adoption as sons by the grace of the Holy Spirit. The first sense of the word goes back to the christology of Leontius of Byzantium, the second to Mark the Monk.
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St Herman Press

Τετάρτη 9 Μαΐου 2018

Spirituelle Reisen in Griechenland

Kloster von Simonos Petra (Heiliger Berg Athos). Foto von hier.

Übersetzung aus dem Griechischen: J.G.

Griechenland ist nicht nur ein Land mit sonnigen Stränden, schönen Bergen und malerischen traditionellen Dörfern… und auch nicht nur das Land des Perikles und des Aristoteles, des Odysseus, des Theseus und Jason.
Es ist auch das Land, in dem seit 2000 Jahren die reine authentische geistliche Tradition und das Erbe des Christentums bewahrt werden, so wie es Jesus Christus gelehrt hat, wie es seine Jünger, die Apostel, weitergegeben haben, wie es seit 20 Jahrhunderten Tausende von Christen, Männer, Frauen, aber auch Kinder leben und dabei Selbsterkennung, tiefe Einsicht, spirituelles Gleichgewicht, Frieden und Einheit mit dem Mitmenschen, mit allen Lebewesen dieser Welt und mit Jesus Christus gewinnen.
Solchen Menschen kann man auch heute noch in Griechenland begegnen, wenn man die Augen seiner Seele offenhält. Es handelt sich um die geistliche Fortsetzung und das Erbe der Orthodoxen Kirche, das sich Griechenland teilt mit allen christlich-orthodoxen Völkern der Erde (wie mit unseren Brüdern den Russen, Serben, Bulgaren, Rumänen, Ukrainern, Georgiern und allgemein allen christlich-orthodoxen Bevölkerungen in der ganzen Welt).
Orte, an denen Heilige, Asketen und Märtyrer, große geistige Vorkämpfer und Lehrer (Männer und Frauen) gelebt haben, trifft der Reisende in Griechenland auf Schritt und Tritt. Viele Menschen aus aller Welt haben diese Reise unternommen und damit ihr Leben verändert. 
Sie sind nicht nur orthodoxe Christen geworden, sondern brachten auch die spirituellen Schätze der Orthodoxen Kirche in ihrer Heimat zum Leuchten. Diese Schätze (die jedem Menschen auf der ganzen Welt offenstehen, so wie Gott ohne Gegengabe „die Sonne aufgehen und es regnen lässt“) wollen wir Sie einladen kennenzulernen.
Das ist natürlich sehr viel mehr als der herkömmliche Tourismus: das ist eine Lebensreise, eine Reise zu unserem Herzen und zu unserer Seele, zu unserem Mitmenschen und zur Sonne der Gerechtigkeit, zu Jesus Christus.

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Οrientierung durch Orthodoxe Dogmatische Erläuterung

Κυριακή 6 Μαΐου 2018

"Let the mouth become basil and a rose": St. Sophia the Righteous, the "Ascetic of the Panagia" (May 6th)

St. Sophia the Righteous, the "Ascetic of the Panagia" - Commemorated on May 6th (from here)
Our note: The Orthodox Church is not a Church of colonialists but a Church of poor and wonderworkers saints, similar to the first Christians, whose they are spiritual descendants without interruption. 
Full of Grace & Truth 
Elder Sophia to be officially numbered among the Saints
The Holy Metropolis of Kastorias is deeply moved to inform the fulness of our Holy Metropolis that bears the name of Christ, along with all the inhabitants of Western Macedonia, that the Ecumenical Patriarchate, led by our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, along with the Holy Synod, has recorded and numbered among the Saints of our Orthodox Church, the Ascetic of the Holy Monastery of Panagia Kleisouras, the Eldress Sophia.

Thus from now and to all the ages, she who "fought the good fight" invisibly in the Monastery of Panagia, Sophia the Ascetic, will be honored as a Saint and will be praised in hymns and spiritual odes from the faithful, especially on the 6th of May, the day of her dormition.

For this reason, on November 27th 2011, in the Holy Monastery of Panagia Kleisouras, during the Orthros before the Divine Liturgy, will the relics of the Righteous Sophia be put forth for the veneration and blessing of all. The Metropolitans Paul of Drama and Seraphim of Kastoria will take part.
(amateur translation of text from here)
Bishops and other clergy celebrating a memorial service for the Righteous Sophia before her holy relics earlier this year (from here)
Life of the Saint

Sophia Saoulidi, the "ascetic of the Panagia", was born of Amanatiou and Maria Saoulidi in a village of Trebizond in Pontus of Asia Minor in 1883. She was also married there years later in 1907 to Jordan Hortokoridou, but after seven years her husband disappeared (likely not of his own will) in 1914 and she was left with a newborn son who soon thereafter died. These tragedies helped shape her piety and repentant spirit, making her rely solely upon God. Her asceticism began in Pontus on a mountain away from her relatives. It was there that one day Saint George appeared to her and warned her to notify the villagers of a coming persecution and to flee, and in this way she saved the village.

Her soul breathed Christ and the Panagia with her simple and humble love. "One is the Lord and one is the Lady", she would say of Christ and the Panagia, "the rest of us are all siblings."

She was a teacher of the simple, especially of women, and every word that came from her lips was spoken with humility and love. As with many "fools for Christ" of the past, the proud and the educated didn't recognize her worth as much as those who possessed simple and humble hearts.

She came to Greece in 1919 as an exile. The name of the ship that carried her was Saint Nicholas, so when they arrived in Greece the Panagia appeared to her and said: "Come to my house." Sophia asked: "Where are you and where is your house?" The Panagia responded: "I am in Kleisoura." Therefore she went and settled at the Monastery of the Birth of the Theotokos in Kleisoura of Kastoria when she was 44 years old. There the abbot of the Monastery was Gregorios Magdalis, an Athonite of great virtue. Sophia learned much from him and always spoke his name with the highest respect.

By the command of the Panagia, Sophia lived within the fireplace of the Monastery in the kitchen, which was also used to cook the food. She would sleep there two hours a night and the rest of the night pray on her knees. In the winter it was especially cold there, while during the rain water would drip on her. At times she would light a little fire, but this did not help much. At the window she would always have a candle lit before the fresco of the Panagia. This is where she ate and spent her time, and when visitors came to see her she would say their names before they even introduced themselves to her. People came from Thessaloniki and the surrounding areas, even as far as from Athens, just to see her. She would tell people their names and their family problems without being told beforehand. Among those who came was Fr. Leonidas Paraskevopoulos, who later became Metropolitan, and he would say: "You have a great treasure up there".
St Sophia with a bear (from here)
She dressed poorly and had a blanket with holes. Her sandals had holes also. Visitors would see how she suffered in the cold and humidity and give her clothes, but she would take them with one hand and give them away to the poor with the other. She also always wore a black scarf, and since her days in Pontus never bathed. Her fasting was constant and only allowed herself oil on the weekends. She cared little for what she ate, eating only to survive, and cared less about cleanliness so that she would even eat food without washing them. And despite the germs and the worms, she always remained healthy.

Visitors would often give her money, which she would hide anywhere she could. And when someone had need, she would go and give the money immediately.

She saw many scandalous things done by priests and lay people, but never criticized anyone. "Cover things, so that God will cover you", she would say.

Her popularity arose rapidly, so that people came not only from all over Greece, but even places like France and Israel to see her. Some villagers made fun of her however, calling her "Crazy-Sophia". To many she looked like Saint Mary of Egypt, as thin as a bone and all dried up. Within however she contained the same beauty of Saint Mary.

A photograph of St. Sophia the New (from here)
Wondrous Events

Her love for God and humanity was powerful and she had impressive experiences with the Panagia and various Saints.

As the ship carried the passengers from Asia Minor to Greece in 1919 a storm hit that put the passengers at great risk. Eventually the storm ceased and everyone survived, but the captain said after making the sign of the cross: "You must have a righteous person among you that saved you", and everyone looked at Sophia who was standing at the corner of the ship the entire journey praying. This incident actually exists on videotape, where she herself recounts what happened:

"The waves were filled with angels and the Panagia appeared, saying, 'Humanity will be lost, because they are very sinful.' And I said: 'Panagia, let me be lost because I am a sinner, so let the world be saved.'"

In 1967 Sophia became very sick and was in great pain. Her stomach had open sores that smelled. She took the pain courageously, saying: "The Panagia will come to take away my pain. She promised me." Some Athenians have her on videotape explaining what happened soon thereafter:

"The Panagia came with the Archangel Gabriel and Saint George, as well as other Saints. The Archangel said: 'We will cut you now'. I said: 'I am a sinner, I must confess, receive communion, then you can cut me'. 'You will not die', he said, 'we are doing a surgery on you', and he cut me open."

As with many Saints, she had a special relationship with wild animals, especially with bears in the forest, but also with snakes and birds.

New and Old Calendar

From the time when the Ecclesiastical Calendar changed in Greece, Sophia would keep the fasts of both the Old and New Calendar so as not to be an offense to anyone.

Unfortunately there is a tendency among Old Calendarists to distort facts and consider her one of their own, but this does not conform to reality as she was always in communion with the Church.

Spiritual Sayings

"The fear of God makes a person wise. What is the fear of God? Not that one should be afraid of God, but to be afraid to sadden someone, to harm someone, to do them no wrong, and to not make accusations. This is wisdom. After all this, God will illumine you as to what to do in your life."

"Look for and find the poor and gather them and help them. This is what God wants, and not to go to church as if to pray."

"Almsgiving should be in secret, for God alone to know."

"Oh, if you only knew what happened to the Lord on Wednesday and Friday, you would put nothing in your mouth. Neither bread, nor oil. Do not break the fast of Wednesday and Friday."

"The angels speak every day. God sends the angels to see if people are repenting."

"The Panagia weeps, she weeps every day. She says to her Son: 'My Son and my God, grant the world wisdom, forgive the world.'"

"Let the mouth become basil and a rose."

Views Of Her Sainthood
In 2009 the Metropolis of Kastoria organized the discussion of the topic "The Saints Honored In Kastoria". Much was discussed of the Eldress' life, and Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria gave his own opinion which reflected the opinions of those in the local church of Kastoria, that she was a saint, that hymns had been written and an icon painted of her, and the necessary official requirements for Glorification would be submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos, Kleisoura (from here)
The Holy Monastery of Kleisouras
The Monastery of the Birth of the Theotokos is 35 kilometers from Kastoria and 70 kilometers from Florina. It was founded around 1314 by the Hieromonk Neophytos of Kleisoura and once again established in 1813 by Hieromonk Isaiah Pista of Kleisoura who came from Iveron Monastery on Mount Athos after a vision of the Panagia.

During the Liberation War of Macedonia the Monastery gave hospitality to many of the Macedonian fighters, among whom was Pavlos Melas. When the Turks burned down the neighboring village of Variko in 1903 the residents fled to this Monastery for safety. Until 1993 the Monastery was not an organized coenobitic community, and it was during these years that Eldress Sophia lived here in asceticism from the time she left Pontus until she died in her old age. Since 1993 the Monastery serves as a female coenobitic convent and has an aim to "resurrect" it as a center of worship in Western Macedonia.

Eldress Sophia fell asleep in the Lord on May 6, 1974 and was buried on the grounds of the Monastery. She was well-known in Western Macedonia, and many who knew her come to pray at her tomb. Her relics are kept in the Monastery, and upon request to the nuns can be venerated by the faithful.

The current abbess is Anisia Egglezou and the Monastery has six nuns and one novice. The address is Κλεισούρα, Τ.Κ. 52054 and the telephone number is 24670 - 94330.
(from here)
St. Sophia of Pontos, the Righteous (here)

Apolytikion in the Third Tone (amateur translations below)
O blessed mother Sophia, you became wise, and the adornment of the Mother of God, and you lived your life in the Monastery ascetically, from which have spread the praise of your struggles, striking the ranks of the demons. And as you stand as an intercessor before Christ, do not neglect those who honor you with fervor.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
You became a treasury of Divine wisdom and all-consuming fear [of God], O mother Sophia, through your motherly intercessions, O blessed one, you offer to all the richness of grace.

Being made spiritually wise, O mother, you passed the whole of your life in utter patience, and now you are made to dwell in the beauty of your Bridegroom, in His bridal chamber.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!