Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My Soul, My Soul, Arise!

A correspondent today brought an excellent blog to my attention: Incendiary, maintained by Yakov Aleksandr Ruchev (at least that's my transliteration of his name). Of particular interest are his original translations from the Russian, a convenient list of which, with links, can be found here. Of special note during the fasting season are his translations of the Lenten homilies of St Innocent, Archbishop of Kherson (+1857). (I see now that Kevin Edgecomb linked to these translations several weeks ago.) Here are the first two paragraphs from a homily delivered on Wedesday of the first week of Lent (during which a portion of the Great Canon is read) on the kontakion of the Great Canon ("My soul, my soul, arise! Why are you sleeping? The end is drawing near, and you will be confounded. Awake, then, and be watchful, that Christ our God may spare you, Who is everywhere present and fills all things."):
Who would you think, my brothers, addresses their soul with these moving words? A penitent sinner? No, this is a holy and blessed man, from whose pen, or, better, from whose heart dripped that sweet-moving hymnody by which we were so strongly moved during the evening services last week, that is, St. Andrew of Crete. Did not his pure and holy soul always keep watch over his salvation? Did negligence over his conscience and forgetfulness of the hour dare to approach him? Even he does not trust his mind or his good deeds but tries to take all measures to not allow his thoughts and wishes to degenerate.

Do we not, all the more, my brothers, need to as often as possible address our soul with similar agitation from the sleep of sin? Us who are so inclined to worldly dispersion and the forgetfulness of God and our eternal destination? Alas, we all sleep a heavy and deep sleep-one of pride and ambition, another of luxury and satiety, still another of malice and cunning, and a fourth of the love of money and acquisitiveness-day and night we sleep from the cradle to the grave! Indeed, beloved brother, what are we doing for our salvation? Holy ascetics spent all their lives in fasting and prayer, labor and voluntary deprivation; holy martyrs endured all types of suffering and torment; the prophets and apostles did not have anywhere to lay their heads and were like filth [1 Cor. 4:13] to the world; and we? We do not even devote as much time to our salvation as we do to the most unimportant things for our whims and pleasures. It is not proof otherwise if we sometimes come to Church, take up a spiritual book, discuss with someone faith and good works, give alms to the poor, and do some sort of other good deeds. It is not proof, I say, that we have watchfulness and care for our souls. But do not sleepers perform various movements which make them appear as if they are not sleeping? And they sometimes even talk-and with reason-walk from place to place, and even sometimes perform some actions which require the intellect. Likewise is it with us: the few good deeds we do are exactly like the actions of a man who is asleep. For how are these deeds performed? Not out of a living and constant love towards God and neighbor, not in the name of our Lord and Savior, not according to a firm determination to live and act as is commanded in the Gospel, but accidentally, even sometimes involuntarily, almost always without a thought for our own salvation, sometimes from worldly conventions, sometimes from the momentary attraction of the feelings and heart, and sometimes due to the cold calculation of self-love. Moreover, performing occasionally a few good deeds, and, thus, disguising our appearance, we remain the same on the inside, with our former passions, with the very same wicked and impure heart, and with the very same sleeping and weak conscience.
Since, as I mentioned in my last post, the entire Great Canon is read at Matins tonight, I'd encourage you all to read the entire homily. While you're visiting Mr Ruchev's site I recommend you also read this homily on the Prayer of St Ephraim the Syrian by St Luke (Voino-Yasenetskii), Archbishop of Simferopol (+1961).

The above portrait is of St Innocent of Kherson.

18 comments:

Ian said...

Welcome back, and my deepest thanks for these links which I look forward to reading.

Justin said...

So nice to see you online again!

Fr. Milovan Katanic said...

Good to have you back!

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

I'm happy you found those too!

Mr Ruchov has been doing splendid work. It is very edifying, and so timely.

incendiarious said...

Thanks for the references to my translations. I'm glad that through your mention, as well as several other recently, these texts are being exposed to more and more people.

Felix Culpa said...

Congratulations on the birth of your first-born son!

I've enjoyed your translations enormously, and hope that you will be able to return to translating sometime soon.

Incidentally, how do you prefer to spell your name in English?

incendiarious said...

Thank you very much; we've been very visibly blessed in many ways throughout my wife's pregnancy and his birth.

As far as my name, I'll actually give you a little riddle: It's my English surname translated into Russian...

Felix Culpa said...

So are you James Alexander Brook?

I had been wondering why you gave a middle name rather than a patronymic.

You perhaps know that there was a Soviet-era poet named Борис Ручьёв.

incendiarious said...

Now I can't play the Russian anymore...

Though my forebears had preferred the OT as opposed to the NT in names and lot's of water as opposed to a little, I'll give you a 9.5...in your skills of deduction. :)

I actually had not known about the poet, thanks for letting me know.

Felix Culpa said...

Is it Brooks? Or perhaps your first name is not James but Jacob? I won't rest until I get an A+

There's an article on the poet on the Russian Wiki.

By the way, if you need a new proofreader for your translation, I'd be happy to help -- at least so long as my computer holds out. You'd just need to scan the Russian text.

I really do enjoy your blog, and hope that you'll some day some begin blogging regularly. For what it's worth, it was a ROCOR bishop who emailed me (and others) the link to your site.

Felix Culpa said...

Jacob Brooks, got it.

incendiarious said...

Now my cover is completely blown!

Thanks! I may take you up on your offer; although I don't have a scanner so I would have to send not very high quality digital photos.

Felix Culpa said...

Let me know if you'd like me to delete these comments. I understand the desire for privacy.

That the scans be readable is all I ask.

incendiarious said...

No, no, just in jest. It turns out there are a lot of me on facebook so I'm not too worried.

Felix Culpa said...

Incidentally, Nikodemus Press printed the letters of the Elder Nikon some years back. They had been serialized in "Orthodox America" for years.

Also, the prophecies of the Elder Anthony that someone asked you about on your other site were translated by someone in Jordanville a couple of years ago. I might even have it somewhere. That said, I don't consider them "kosher," so to speak. Fr Andrei Kuraev has also written a criticism of them.

incendiarious said...

Really? I did not know that Elder Nikon's letters had been published, but I now looked at the index of OA and there they are... Do you know how extensive was the translation?

I agree; I found several books about Elder Anthony online and glanced through them and was not too impressed. (That initial prophecy mentioned was enough to turn me off.)

Felix Culpa said...

So far as I know it was the entire book. I can put you in touch with the Mansur sisters (who translated and published it) if you like.

I'm not sure this Elder Anthony ever existed. If you're interested you should search for Fr Andrei Kuraev's remarks, or I could dig them up for you if you can't easily find them.

incendiarious said...

Yes, that would be great if you could give me their contact. You can email me at norespite(at)adams.net

I'll take a look around sometime and see what I find.