Monday, April 20, 2009

Bright Monday: On a Rule For Life

CHRIST IS RISEN!

I offer below my translation of a short word by Bishop Mefody of Campanie (pictured). He was born Vladimir Nikolaevich Culman in Petersburg on July 12/25, 1902, to the family of Professor N. K. Culman. He began his studies in Petrograd, and then continued them at the historical-philological faculty in Prague from 1922 to 1926. He was rewarded a doctoral degree from the Slavonic institute in 1928. He also completed a degree in theology from the St Serge Institute in Paris. He was tonsured a monk in 1928, ordained a priest in 1931, and appointed rector of the Church of Christ the Savior in Asnières, near Paris, in 1932. Consecrated Bishop of Campanie in 1953, he reposed on April 13, 1974.
The Holy Forty Days have ended, we have experienced Holy Week and the Paschal celebration of faith. Nearly everyone approached the Mystery of Confession and Communed of Christ’s Holy Gifts, and our souls have been cleansed and renewed.

What is next? More care, so as not to revert to the old, not to fade spiritually, not to die. This can happen so easily! The life that surrounds us is conducive to this. Everyone is hurrying, everyone is running, everyone is busy, everyone has no time – and it is like that every day. Everyone is going faster and faster. But going where? Our spiritual task is, as it were, not to sink into this flow of hurry, not to choke.

We need to break free from it, we need to preserve our spiritual personhood. To do this one needs to have, if not hours, then at least minutes, a life for the soul, for one's spirit, when one can pause to reflect, to pray a bit, to read something. One needs to have some sort of “rule” for the life of one’s spirit, which you will not abandon, not because you are a legalist or a Pharisee, but because you remember that “the Sabbath (rest) is for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” You are a person, and you need help, support, a certain “support railing,” so as not to sink into the flow of modern life. What is needed is a certain “rule” for the spiritual life, for the spirit, for the soul, for the soul of every one of us, that should be set up and held onto. After all, we have rules for our fleshly life: to eat, drink, wash, dress. There are rules for life on the street: how to cross the street, how to drive along it. Try to violate these rules, and what happens? These rules are for people, for their lives, for saving their lives.

Let us therefore be just. Let us think about our soul, about its salvation, about a rule that can help it to live, to preserve it.

Having gone through the Holy Forty Days, having lived through Holy Week and the Paschal celebration of faith, now it is time to think how to preserve ourselves spiritually, how to be spiritually strengthened and enriched. Amen.
See also the Bright Monday sermon of Archbishop Andrei of Rockland; this superb new podcast by Deacon Matthew Steenberg; and this explanation of Bright Week by S. V. Bulgakov. Finally, while this has nothing directly to do with Bright Monday, I'd heartily recommend reading this article (and the Q & A that follows) by A. N. Wilson about his return from athiesm (h/t to Orrologion).

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