Monday, July 12, 2010


On June 20 I was separated from my computer when transferred to another ward of the hospital. I have not had access to my laptop since. I'll now be able to use it a couple minutes a day, mainly to check email, but I won't be able to resume blogging until I've been released from the hospital, which may be a couple weeks from now. I appreciate your patience and ask your prayers.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Syllabus

As I've had to occasion to mention a number of times, I taught for several years at Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY. I taught a variety of subjects: Principles of Orthodoxy, English, ESL, New Testament Greek, and Russian History. The subject that I was most excited to teach was always Principles of Orthodoxy, a two-semester sequence that I envisioned as a sort of introduction to theology. Here, for your interest, is the basic syllabus I used:

First Semester
  • Genesis, 1-11;
  • Genesis, 12-50;
  • Exodus;
  • Prophetic texts (handout -- the 12 Holy Saturday readings from Vespers);
  • St. Matthew;
  • St. Mark;
  • St. Luke and Acts;
  • St John and Epistles;
  • Romans;
  • Ephesians and Colossians;
  • Revelation.
Second semester

I really love to read the Scriptures and Holy Fathers!

How to Dress in Church

Q & A with Fr Job:
Question: My acquaintance assures me that women of all ages are bound to attend services in church with their head covered by a scarf. Tell me, is this so, and what in general is permitted to wear when one goes to church, both for women and for men.

Answer: The necessity of women covering their head during prayer (in church and at home) has its foundation in the First Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Corinthians (cf., 11:3-16). Inasmuch as woman was created from man and as the helpmate of man, she must demonstrate this in her external appearance, and above all – to cover her head during prayer. Inasmuch as this ceremonial statute has a spiritual-symbolic meaning, it must be fulfilled regardless of age. The Church is the preserver of the best traditions, and therefore one needs to dress traditionally: women – a skirt or dress of sufficient length, men – trousers (it’s not proper to enter a church in shorts). Even summers it’s improper to bear one’s arms. Sports clothes do not befit the conditions of a church. Unusual, attention-attraction apparel is undesirable. And, of course, one mustn’t come to church in torn, dirty clothes. The main thing to remember is that church is the house of God, and one must enter it with reverence.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

Tomorrow is the fourth Sunday after Pentecost. On it we celebrate the memory of the Hieromartyr Theodotus, Bishop of Ancyra. Here is a brief life:
The Holy Martyr Theodotus lived in Ancyra of Galatia in the third century. He was distinguished by his kindliness and concern. At the height of the persecution under Diocletian (284-305) he provided Christians with everything they needed, and gave them shelter in his home. There they secretly celebrated church services.

St Theodotus visited the Christian captives in prison, paid their bail, and reverently buried the bodies of martyrs who had been thrown to the wild beasts. Once he buried the bodies of seven holy women martyrs, who were drowned in the sea (May 18). They reported this to the governor.

After refusing to offer sacrifice to idols, and denouncing the folly of paganism, St Theodotus confessed Christ as God, for which they subjected him to terrible tortures and beheaded him with a sword. They wanted to burn the holy martyr's body, but could not do so because of a storm which had arisen, so they gave his holy relics to a certain Christian for burial.

St Theodotus is also commemorated on May 18.
Online resources:

Why a New Name at Tonsure?

Q & A with Fr Job:
Question: In connection with what, at a tonsure to monasticism, is the one receiving the schema given a new name?

Answer: Monasticism is a free-will renunciation from the good and values of the world. At the tonsure the future monk gives vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to his spiritual constructor. The departure from the world from ancient times is an image of death. The one born to a new life receives a new name. According to Holy Scripture, a name is not simply a distinguishing mark for a person, but expresses the essence and meaning of the named. The Lord told the Patriarch: “As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall they name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee” (Gen 17:4-5).

A name is given to the one being tonsured. The future monk hears his name for the first time during the tonsure. From that moment on he feels himself a new person.

It is the same thing with the tonsure to the Great Schema. Although the vows of the Great Schema are the same as with the Small Schema, the strictest rules are laid upon the tonsured. This means yet another birth, which is accompanied by a change of name.

Reading Group, 5g


a. It was co-suffering love for sinful mankind that accomplished redemption. The juridical understanding was that Christ took upon Himself God’s wrath.

b. If Christ had descended to hell after his spiritual suffering, but without the Cross, would anyone be able to imagine the depth of those sorrows and to understand the inner union of His soul with the whole of human nature?

c. If there were on Christian who knew only of the Savior’s spiritual suffering and another who knew of His physical torments, the latter would likely mourn His death with greater compunction.

d. This is because our nature is so coarse that it is very difficult for it to enter into the concept of the purely spiritual torments of Christ.

e. Christ’s bodily suffering and death were primarily necessary so that believers would value His spiritual suffering as incomparably greater.

f. Christ’s cleansing Blood, saving Cross, life-giving Tomb and healing wounds are all expressions and images which are substituted fro the general concept of Christ’s redeeming Passion. We are far from insisting that the only meaning of our Lord’s bodily suffer and, in particular, of His crucifixion and death was to provide the faithful with a way of conceiving His spiritual grief.

g. It may be objected that such an interpretation is unheard of.

h. Salvation is our conscious process of perfection and communion with God; therefore, the truths of revelation united with it should be bound to out inner experience and not be allowed to remain as if completely incomprehensible mysteries which we do not understand.

i. The author is convinced that the explanation of the truth of the doctrine of redemption which have been here expounded is in accord with the teaching of the Church, but is even more firmly convinced of the Church’s infallibility so that, if it were proved that this explanation does not coincide with her teaching, he would consciously renounce his views on this dogma.
  1. What do you make of the accusations leveled against this essay that: a) it introduces a novel doctrine into the Church; b) that it underemphasizes Christ’s human fear at Gethsemane; and that c) it shifts the locus of Christ’s redemption from the Cross to Gethsemane? How would Metropolitan Anthony himself reply to these charges?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mental Disorders and Spiritual Healing (5 of 5)

The fifth and concluding chapter of Jean-Claude Larchet’s remarkable study, Mental Disorders and Spiritual Healing, is devoted to “A Most Singular Kind of Folly – The Fool for Christ.” The true fool for Christ, Larchet notes, should not be confused either with the illiterate or the “innocent” (such as Dostoevksy’s Prince Myshkin). Speaking of the true fool for Christ, Larchet writes: “Not only do they not suffer any intellectual handicap, but in reality, as we shall see, they possess a superlative ability to feign their state of insanity, to perfectly adapt it to the situations they encounter and the spiritual goals they wish to achieve, giving symbolic significance to their acts and their words, and concealing the good they do.” The fool, “by his incoherent speech and disorderly actions, or, to the contrary, but his mutism, exhibits symptoms characteristic of real insanity.” But it must be insisted that “he is even completely sound of mind.” He is like an actor, “who totally invests himself in his role, but nevertheless remains himself.”

Scriptural foundations for this brand of ascesis can be found among the Prophets of the Old Testament, as well as in St Paul’s many words about how the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God – although in the latter case, “foolishness” is “taken in the spiritual and not psychopathological sense, unless by analogy.”

The two fundamental motives for taking upon oneself the podvig of foolishness are humility and detachment from the world. The fool is detached from the world “by means of three traits favored by this state, namely solitude (exterior and interior), the status of stranger, and poverty.” A third motive is charity, particularly with regard to the most deprived. Foolishness for Christ’s sake has its own spiritual presuppositions: a call from God or a personal vocation approved by God and an already highly accomplished spiritual life. Larchet concludes with these words:
Lastly it would appear that foolishness for Christ constitutes a special ascetic path enabling the individual to realize three Christian virtues: humility, detachment from the world, and charity. The salos [fool] uses simulated madness to seek out and experience the first by means of humiliations which this counterfeit state draws upon him in surroundings rather intolerant of fools, to realize the second by making himself a wretch and a pariah, to practice the third hidden from the eyes of the world, and by keeping as close as possible to most destitute. All the characteristics generally recognized can be connected, in our opinion, to one or another of these three virtues.

However, this detachment achieved in extreme poverty and by becoming a stranger (xeniteia) can just as well be lived in the ordinary monastic state, especially the eremetic. As to charity for those on society’s fringes, it can be exercised secretly outside of the status of fool, but it also characterizes the saloi living in cities, As a result the only characteristic common to all saloi and truly specific to their state seems to be a maximalist search for humility, constantly experienced through the disdain, humiliation, and suffering unjustly endured “for Christ.”
I would recommend this remarkable study without reservation to all.

The Names Jesus and Mary

Q & A with Fr Job:
Question: I’ve heard that one should not name a girl Mary born on the Birth of the Theotokos. And that altogether one may not name a girl Mary in honor of the Theotokos, whenever she was born. Is this so? Explain, please, why.

Answer: In our Church it is not accepted to give a name in honor of Jesus Christ and the Mother of God. The reason is the deep reverence before Their holiness. The name of Jesus is given in honor of the Holy Righteous Jesus of Navin. The widespread name of Mary in Russia among Orthodox Christians is in honor of the holy God-pleasers Mary Magdalene, Mary of Egypt, and others.

Reading Group, 5f

Concerning the Heresy of “Original Sin”

a. It may be asked: Could the redemption have been effected without the physical sufferings and death of the Redeemer? Could it have been effected only by means of those spiritual griefs and torments which He endured in Gethsemane? And isn’t too little attention given to the significance of Adam’s sin?

b. A reply depends on the words on Saint Paul to the Romans (5:12), specifically whether it should be translated “because all men have sinned” or “because in him all sinned.” Adam was not so much the cause of our sinfulness as he was the first to sin, and even if we were not his children, we would sin all the same.

c. The Apostle Paul distinguishes the event of Adam’s fall a the means – the way thought which sin appeared in the world – from the consequences of it, even though Adam’s sin with the cause.

d. Adam is not actively responsible for the indwelling of sin in the whole world, but rather was a sort of door which opened the way for sin.

e.Men are not condemned by Adam’s sin and, but for their own sinfulness, the consequence of which (death) began will Adam; but all have sinned, not in Adam, but because of Adam.

  1. What conception of original sin is Metropolitan Anthony criticizing? And what conception does he offer in its place?
  2. What consequences for redemption to the juridical understanding of original sin, and Metropolitan Anthony’s understanding, bear?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mental Disorders and Spiritual Healing (4 of 5)

The fourth chapter of Jean-Claude Larchet’s study, Mental Disorders and Spiritual Healing, is dedicated to “Insanity of Spiritual Origin.” Larchet opens the chapter with these words:
Although, for the Fathers, one category of mental illness or form of insanity had a somatic etiology, and a second category a demonic one, the third category is of spiritual origin. While the first has (our fallen) nature for its cause and the second demons, the free will on an individual is responsible for the third, even if demonic activity and our free will sometimes share responsibility in the first two situations.
“Mental illnesses of spiritual origin,” Larchet writes, “should not be confused with the spiritual illnesses themselves.” For the Fathers, “an important share of the disorders today considered to be purely psychic actually have to do with the spiritual realm. In this sense the nosography and treatment of spiritual illnesses embraces, but goes beyond psychopathology.” In comparing the modern psychiatric perspective with that of the Fathers, the following points can be made.
1) A certain number of problems examined by standard modern nosography appear to be related to what Patristic nosology called the passion of pride. Modern psychiatry, while not unaware of the pathogenic character of this attitude, has however divorced it from its moral and spiritual dimension, most often designating it as a “self-valorization” or “hypertrophy of the ego.” This attitude is present to a high degree in paranoid psychoses. It is also found in hysteria. Many of the difficulties in maintaining relationships – a symptom present in the majority of neuroses – can be connected with it. (...)

2) The anxiety and anguish present in most psychoses as well as in all neuroses can be linked in part to what the Fathers considered to be the passion of fear and sadness.
3) The aggressiveness to be found in the majority of neuroses and in certain psychoses can be linked to the passion of “anger” in the broad sense we have defined it.

4) Debility, a symptom common to many mental illnesses corresponds rather closely to one of the essential components of acedia.

5) Depressive symptoms, to be found in many neuroses and psychoses, can be directly linked to acedia and sadness.

6) Apart from these symptoms, several syndromes appear to be connected to the passions in spiritual nosology.

7) The neurotic phobias appear to have some connection with the passion of fear; they are moreover standardly defined as “agonizing fears.”

8) Anxiety neurosis can be understood in relation to the passion of sadness, but also and above all to fear.

9) Psychotic melancholia can be to some degree connected with both acedia and sadness, especially in its extreme form of “despair."

Without any doubt the closest and most direct relationship can be established between the acedia and sadness of Patristic nosology and the different forms of depression. Nor has this relationship failed to attract the attention of certain psychiatrists who have recently devoted several studies to this subject. And its importance warrants our repeating the essentials of the analysis we have devoted to these two passions, limiting ourselves however to their psychic dimensions and effects.
Larchet begins with a consideration of the nosology of sadness, writing: “Sadness (lupe) appears to be state of soul which, beside the simple meaning of the word, involves discouragement, debility, psychic heaviness and sorrow, dejection, distress, oppression, and depression most often accompanied by anxiety and even with anguish. Larchet notes the following causes for sadness: the frustration of desires, anger, unmotivated sadness, and demonic activity. Larchet then turns to a discussion of the nosology of acedia, which he writes “is akin to sadness, and to such a degree is this the case that St Gregory the Great, the inspirer of the ascetic tradition in the West, unites the two passions of acedia and sadness into a single one. The eastern ascetical tradition however distinguishes between them.”

The treatment of sadness, more than of other passions, “presupposes the awareness that one is ill and that one wishes to be cured.” The first possible cause of sadness “is the frustration of an existing or anticipated pleasure, and more to the point the loss of some sensible good, the frustration of some desire, or disappointment over some worldly hope”; a second case of sadness is anger, “whether it follows from it or is the consequence of some offense suffered, frequently taking in such a case the form of spite.” Treating acedia is even more difficult, as “it has the peculiarity of seizing all the faculties of the soul and inflaming nearly all the passions.” Treatment comes through through resistance, patience, hope, grief and tears, the remembrance of death, manual labor and, above all, prayer.

God willing, I’ll continue with Larchet’s fifth and final chapter, “A Most Singular Kind of Folly – the Fool for Christ,” tomorrow.

When Prostrations?

Q & A with Fr Job:
Question: Is it proper to make prostrations in the Liturgy during the time of “Catechumens, bow your heads unto the Lord” and “Axios” (during an ordination)?

Answer: During the petition “Catechumens, bow your head unto the Lord” and “Axios” there are no prostrations, according to the Typikon.

Reading Group, 5e

Resolving the Perplexities

a. The following perplexities must be resolved: 1) For what purpose, then, were the crucifixion of the Lord on the Cross and His death? 2) Why is He called a sacrifice for our sins and a propitiation of the Heavenly Father for us? And what is the meaning of the Apostolic words that His blood cleanses us from sins? 3) Why is it said that we must have become sinful and condemned through Adam’s disobedience, if we must explain the whole economy of salvation only in terms of moral values and make even metaphysical concepts, such as “nature” dependent upon them?

b. Russian readers will receive very sympathetically this transition of all theology into moral monism, and will judge it the best refutation of the criticism of Tolstoy.

c. It may be objected that the above three obstacles arose not only under the influence of feudal justice, but from the Epistles of the Apostles.

d. The action of redemption consists only in the rebirth of a person, while rebirth consists in his transformation. If a fallen person could correct himself only through repentance and a struggle with himself under the guidance of God’s commandments, and the good examples of righteous envoys of God, then redemption would not have been necessary.

e. In order to obtain a decisive victory, human nature needs help from without, help which is from someone Who is both holy, and Who co-suffers with it.

f. The Creator is responsible for the fact that it is impossible to find any other means for the rebirth and salvation of man except the incarnation of the Son of God and the grievous agony of His co-suffering love toward us.

g. It is in this sense that one can affirm that Christ was a sacrifice for our sinful life. One can admit use of the term “satisfaction of God’s justice,” but only in a peripheral way.

h. The comparison of Christ’s sufferings with the Old Testament sacrifices is completely without foundation.

i. Nowhere will one encounter the idea tat the animal being sacrificed was thought of as taking upon itself a punishment on behalf of people.

j. The analogy between Christ’s suffering and death and the Old Testament sacrifice is repeated many times in the New Testament, but those sacrifices are not given any other interpretation here either.

k. Only with great difficulty were Christians reconciled to the loss of the Old Testament religious order.

l. The main aim of Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews was to comfort them in the loss of these externals and to explain that the spiritual comfort given by that service is doubly preserved for Christians.
m. These epistles, in speaking about Christ’s sacrifice, do not view them as punishment, but as a gift to God the Father.
  1. How is Metropolitan Anthony using the term “moral monism” and how does this relate to his criticism of Tolstoy?
  2. What does Metropolitan Anthony mean by stating that if man could self-regenerate, he’d have no need of redemption?
  3. How does Metropolitan Anthony justify his claim that there is no similarity between Old Testament sacrifices and Christ’s sacrifice? How does he explain the analogies in the New Testament.
  4. What is Metropolitan Anthony’s conception of justice, as it applies to the redemption?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Interview with A. I. Sidorov (2 of 2)

Continued from yesterday:
– Tell us, please, which works of the Fathers are closest to you?

– I can name St Athanasius: his On the Incarnation of the Word of God is not only a classic but is, in my view, a masterpiece. Or the Life of St Anthony by the same saint. In general, each Father has a work that is especially dear to me. Take St Maximus. Certain of his works made it into the Philokalia, that is, into an anthology of patristic ascesis, for example, his Chapters on Love, where the spiritual experience of this great ascetic and no less great Orthodox thinker is found in concentrated form. It also gives me real pleasure to read such crystal clear works as, for example, the Ancient Paterikon. But the problem for me is that I continually feel the absence in myself of an equal spiritual experience, which would allow me fully to accept the patristic work.

– Are the questions considered by the Holy Fathers of the epoch of earliest Christianity still relevant?

– And how! Even as a young man I came to the conclusion that the thoughts expressed by us and seeming to us fairly original, actually in principle already existed and were expressed early, only in different words. One can probably say that the number of authentic principle questions, as with their answers, are not very many. What are the main ones for an Orthodox person? The first and most important question is: how is one saved? And the Holy Fathers answered it, and their answers are as relevant for us, as they were relevant many centuries ago.

It’s sometimes said that the Fathers did not always raise, for example, the question of social service. But what is social service? This is an expression of our faith, for faith without works is dead. Therefore social service remains one of the tertiary moments of the main question: how is one saved? If you try to realize this salvation, helping people, looking after the sick or going to a prison, then in this way you are striving towards the goal of Christian life. And here it behoves us to remember that the acquisition of this goal is not possible without placing priority of the inner over the external. And the internal is prayerful podvig, spiritual progress, and the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. Without these social service and other external activities are unthinkable. This is an axiom of Orthodox life.

– Why do clergy now appeal to the authority of Fathers of the twentieth century, and not to the ancient Fathers?

– That’s far from the case. I often hear how priests in their sermons appeal to Fathers of the distant ecclesiastical past. And how could it be without this? After all, the Church lives in eternity. And St Ignatius (Brianchaninov) and St John of Kronstadt are, along with St Maximus the Confessor, our contemporaries. Contemporaries not in the sense that they live at the same time as us, but in that they live in eternity, to which we seek constantly to commune with. It’s possible that contemporary priests appeal more often to the spiritual writers of the nineteenth and twentieth century because the Fathers of these times speak a language more understandable for us. However, I repeat that I’ve met many priests who continually cite St John Chrysostom, and St Basil the Great, and so forth. Therefore I wouldn’t say that they appeal only to Fathers of the twentieth century.

– Students write term paper and dissertations in patrology. Do the seminarians make reach conclusions which can be called essential and interesting?
– Of course they do. There are a number of works which become for the seminarians themselves essential and interesting, because such strata of seeing the world immediately open to them, about which they either thought superficially or not completely in that light. There are, of course, empty papers, but there are very serious works.

It’s well known that patrology is also part of the academic syllabus in the theological academy. How, in principle, do the seminary and academy courses differ?

– I happen to teach both in seminary and in the academy, for which reason I have chosen the following principle: in the academy we cover that patristic heritage which was not covered in seminary. But, unfortunately, one specific point arises: people come to the academy from different seminaries, where patrology is taught differently. Although there is basic course, much depends on local resources, teachers, and the like. Sometimes that which is taught in the Moscow or Sretensky Seminaries is unknown in other places. Therefore a very difficult problem faces a teacher in the academy: is it worth it or not to cover material which in principle should have been covered in the seminary.

In my opinion, in the academy there should be a specialized class which would cover certain defined material of a specific period, such as, for example, the growth of monastic writing of the “golden age,” or ecclesiastical writers of the sixth century, where these periods are studied more carefully an deeply. In the academy there should be specialization. But now the level of preparation of students from various seminaries is different, and this causes difficulties. Therefore the teacher has to all the time manoeuvre between a specialized course and general themes. So I’ll read you a lecture, for instance, about St Dionysius of Alexandria, and it happens that students from some provincial seminary won’t have heard of him. So one’s obliged to repeat oneself.

Moreover, it’s often forgotten that the preparation of lectures is a very laborious process, taking up several years – and all the more so for specialized courses. We evaluate the work of a teacher according to an entirely primitive schema: according to lecture hours; but these hours represent just the tip of an enormous iceberg of the work of a teacher. By the way, I may say that I always strive beforehand to repeat and renew even a course I have been teaching for several years – and this always takes a defined amount of time.

– Is patrology taught in secular institutions?

– As far as I know, in secular institutions patristics are taught as the history of Christian writing or as a part of philosophy.

– Are students offered today quality textbooks of patrology?

– There are plenty of textbooks. Fr John Meyendorff’s Introduction to Patristic Theology is well known. Not long ago appeared among us the book of Rassaphore-monk Vsevolod (Philipev), The Way of the Holy Fathers: Patrology. The books of Konstantin Efimovich Skurat are very valuable. A more fundamental textbook is N. I. Sagrada’s Lectures in Patrology. But there is a great failure from the point of view of textbooks in church writing and theology for the period after the “golden age” in Byzantium. Here one needs to prepare a special course (or, better, courses.)

– You often warn seminarians about the use of improperly translated patristic texts. Whose translations do you consider successful and adequate?

– As I understand it, the question is about contemporary translators? Again I repeat that any translation is just a translation. Every translator, consciously or unconsciously, makes mistakes. There are no translators who never make mistakes, and this is connected with many purely subjective things.

Undoubtedly, there are good translators. Among us I can name Alesksei Georgievich Dunaev who, as a philologist, translates very well. In particular, the newly discovered works of St Mavarius of Egpyt are translated not at all badly. But, unfortunately, his perspective on the patristic heritage is deeply, in my mind, incorrect. And here arises the question: what is a good translation?

Translation is either the clear transfer of the original from a purely philological point of view, or instead it’s a vision of deep layers. I often deal with old translations, and I like them more than some new translations, although they don’t lack their own mistakes. But in them is the culture of translation, closely related not only with the culture of the language, but also with the culture of a Church worldview and outlook. A patristic text – these are texts of Homer or Shakespeare, which, by the way, has been repeatedly translated, and each translator translated them in his own way. Church translations are that which lives and works in the catholic consciousness of the Church. Old translations of the Holy Fathers differ from new ones in that in them is present a deep ecclesiastical culture. On the level of this culture, today’s generation of translators can not be compared with them. Personally, I am already thirty years in the Church and feel with every fiber of my soul just how long and difficult is the process of absorbing an ecclesiastical language and ecclesiastical way of life. In the old translations there are mistakes, are errors, but they bear within themselves a remarkable ecclesiastical elegance. It seems to me that contemporary translations sometimes suffer superficiality, a planeness, and do not raise the spiritual depths of the original

– Aleksei Ivanovich, what plans do you have for the future? Is there a translation of a patristic work that you would like to accomplish?

– Plans for the future – well, that’s as the Lord will give, I have practically finished the Question and Answers to Thalassius of St Maximos the Confessor, and I would like to publish the full text of this translation, the first part of which appeared almost twenty years ago. Now I’ll be working on it. And further I have plans to publish the works of St Theoleptus of Philadelphia, the translation of which is also nearing to an end. I hope, with God’s help, to finish it. I hope that God will give me time and strength for this, for usually there’s not enough of them. And I would still like to translate more!

– And what is the interest of these translations upon which you’re working?

– The Question and Answers to Thalassius by St Maximus the Confessor is interesting in that, in the given work, there is a sort of “masterpiece” of patristic theology and asceticism. This is a living synthesis of spiritual experience and elevated divine contemplation. Therefore one must go deeply into the difficult thought of the father, in his difficult language – here, by the way, is where my commentaries are born. Because sometimes it’s unclear to me what this Father is saying. I try to explain the places that are incomprehensible to me, to find patristic parallels. That’s how the commentaries arise, which, so I hope, may be useful to others and especially to thoughtful readers. I am consequently translating very slowly. Problems also arise when, understanding the Greek text, I’m unable to put them into Russian. Therefore it becomes necessary to divide phrases and invent some sort of insertions so that it will sound adequate in Russian. But the work by itself is definitely one of the heights of patristic thought.

St Theoleptos is interesting in that he was the teacher of St Gregory Palamas and an outstanding Hesychast, who is known to us only by one incorrect translation of one work in the Philokalia. In the twentieth century new manuscripts were found, including more than twenty works by the saint. We began the translation of these works with my former student – now he’s already Fr Alexander Przhegorlinsky. We had wanted to publish them quickly, but it turned out that the finalization of the translations took up much time, which, as always there isn’t enough of.

St Theoleptos of Philadelphia is a unique author. He demonstrates that hesychasm is not so much an argument about essence and energy in God, as it is a unique spiritual experience, gained by many generations of Orthodox monks. Saint Theoliptos was not touched by these disputes, but his work shows the deep foundation of all of hesychasm as a predominantly inner activity. Without St Theoleptos the entire tradition of Orthodox spirituality in its best expression is incomprehensible.

Besides the above, I am also interested in studying St Anastasius of Sinai, several translations of whose works have already published. Right now I am working on his remarkable work under the title Questions and Answers. There are many plans, and which of them will come to fruition – God alone knows.

– What store of knowledge should a seminarian have who has completed a course of patrology?

–It’s desirable, of course, to have as great amount of baggage as possible, but dragging large baggage is often heavy. When you get on a plane, one can take only a certain number of pounds to avoid overloading. In the same way, the baggage of a seminarian must include a given amount of knowledge. I would like that they would have at least an approximate knowledge of who a certain Father was, and when he lived.

For example, at the Liturgy we are constantly commemorating the great universal teachers. But who was St Basil the Great? He was, after all, a living man, who lived a short but rich and vivid life, wrote works, many of them of a surprising freshness of a grace-filled mind, in which is reflected his unique spiritual visage. And this visage differed from the visage of his friend, St Gregory the Theologian. And seminarians, in my opinion, should save in their souls the spiritual visage of one or another Father of the Church, which is like an “icon” inside our souls.

In conclusion I’d like to express the wish that seminarians read both the Holy Fathers and works about the Holy Fathers. Without such reading it is not possible to attain the full of spiritual experience and knowledge.

Mental Disorders and Spiritual Healing (3 of 5)

Jean-Claude Larchet dedicates the third chapter of his book, Mental Disorders and Spiritual Healing, to a consideration of insanity of demonic origin. He begins: “According to the Fathers, another cause for insanity was the direct intervention of demons.” The Fathers “distinguished quite clearly between physical and demonic etiologies, not only with regard to illness or infirmities of different kinds, but even for identical diseases or infirmities arising from different causes.” This goes to show “that having recourse to a demonic etiology is no way indicates a naivete of belief, an ignorance of other causes, or an inability to explain things otherwise.” Indeed, to “ascribe a belief in demonic etiology to a lack of education in monastic communities is to forget that some of these monks were among the most cultivated men of their times, and that several of them possessed extensive medical knowledge.” Distinguishing etiologies in cases of insanity, however, requires the gift of discernment: “Only those who have obtained the charism of the discerning of spirits from God are capable of exercising this spiritual discrimination.” The process is rendered complex by the way the devil can act both on the body and, to a limited extent, the soul. Larchet writes:
In general, when the devil cannot act directly on the soul, he will act through the intermediary of the body. He has no immediate access to the spirit of the Christian, because by baptism he has lost the power that he formerly could exercise and he has been expelled from the depth of the soul where he wishes to work. He has been expelled from the depth of the soul where he formerly made his residence and has been replaced by the grace of the Holy Trinity that now surrounds the heart of the baptized. As long as the baptized individual guards the grace which is in him by keeping his will turned toward God, the devil remains unable to approach his soul. However, the “bath of holiness in now way presents the demons form attacking us.” The devil attempts to seduce the soul by multiple suggestions that the individual however has the power to repel, by means of the divine grace which is in him.
The individual is tested and fortified by demonic possession. St Diodochos of Photiki writes:
It is for a good purpose that the demons are allowed to dwell within the body, even of those who are struggling vigorously against sin; for in this way man’s free will is constantly put to the test. [Thus] God allows [Satan] to do this, so that a man, after passing through a trial of storm and fire, may come in the end to full enjoyment of divine blessings.
If the Baptized Christian “even for a moment turns away from grace, which acts like a rampart defending his heart, he becomes once again susceptible to the power of Satan, and the latter, profiting from this relaxation, is able to introduce the seeds of disturbance into the citadel of the soul.” In such cases, demons “can penetrate the soul directly because grace no longer dwells within it, and thus can go so far as to result in possession.” Passions, taken to an extreme, can lead to an opening for the demons; in fact “the passions, insofar as they subsist in man, constitute in themselves to a certain degree a form of demonic possession.”

Most striking about the Fathers’ attitude with regard to the possessed/insane is their positive attitude. First, “the possessed person is frequently not considered to be someone subject to divine chastisement, or simply suffering the natural consequences of a sinful state signifying the definite loss os sin’s victim, but someone undergoing a trial authorized by God in order to purify him and bring him to a superior spiritual state.” St John Cassian writes:
We ought to hold unwaveringly to two things. The first is that not one of these persons in ever tried without the permission of God. The second is that everything which is brought upon us by God, whether it appears sad or joyful at the time, is ordained as a most tender father and a most merciful physician for our benefit. Therefore they are handed over as it were to pedagogues in order to be humiliated. Thus, when they leave this world... [they] may either be brought to the other life in a more purified condition or be struck with a light punishment.
Possession can have a positive effect upon the soul. Larchet writes:
[T]hose afflicted are given the chance from now on, in the troubles that assail them, for a thorough questioning of their previous way of life, for a true purification, and for a conversion of their being which perhaps in any other way. Having one’s soul and body shaken by demonic forces can lead to the discovery of realities which had been ignored. By experiencing the terrible malice of the evil spirits in the depth of one’s soul, the misery of those deprived of divine protection suddenly comes into sharp focus. These people can then, in their distress, be led to call upon God with great intensity for deliverance from the hell in which they find themselves. Withstanding, through God, every evil that must be borne, they can be purified by suffering and strengthened by patience. This hard battle that must be fought plays the role, then, of a difficult asceticism, an asceticism capable of producing spiritual transformations which, by the end, can be revealed to be extraordinary and proportionate to the unusual trials they have had to undergo.
The Fathers manifest an attitude of profound respect for the possessed/insane. This if, first of all, “because of the previously given reason that such a destiny can hide some mysterious judgment of God and is likely to lead the individual on a path of spiritual progress, or can at least serve in some manner for his benefit.” Second, the insane or possessed person “remains a brother who has an even greater need not to be held in contempt or rejected, but on the contrary to be loved and helped since he finds himself in a condition of great suffering.” Thus, “far from being excluded from the fraternal community, the possessed person, while submitting to his trials, finds himself integrated with the community through the helping attention of his particular situation of suffering and distress deserve.”

The insane or possessed person maintains his humanity; it is simply subject to a parasite. Therefore, we do not regard him as we would the devil. Larchet adds in a footnote that “Historians agree in recognizing that, in the West, it is only after the Renaissance that, by an unbelievable confusion, the possessed/insane are considered the devil’s accomplices, and so implicated, pursued, and penalized in ‘witch hunts.’” The Fathers “do not identify him with his madness.”

A saint is not only capable, thanks to his faculty of discernment, of not only properly diagnosing insanity of demonic origin, but he is also capable of healing the possessed person. The saints, above all, invoke “the Name of Jesus, which is especially effective in combating demons and so can deliver men from insanity.” They also use the Sign of the Cross, “the seal of the presence of Christ which places the individual under the grace of Christ crucified, the conquerer of every evil, of all suffering, all corruption, and the destroyer of the power of Satan.” The saints also make recourse to other means: “holy oil used either by rubbing or unction, holy water, and sometimes the laying on of hands. The traditional form of exorcism is which a saint orders the demons to leave is reported in a few cases.” The saints also used prayer and fasting (cf., Mk 9:29). The possessed person himself must also pray for his deliverance, for God “does not grant healing unless it is asked of him.”

I’ll continue tomorrow with chapter four, “Insanity of Spiritual Origin.”

Unction and Forgiveness

Q & A with Fr Job:
Question: How true is it that, at the celebration of the Mystery of Unction, forgotten sins are forgiven? I hear this in every sermon on this theme, but I have also encountered the opinion that this is all folklore, to put it gently. I’d like to know the opinion of a “specialist.”

Answer: The Mystery of Unction is one of the seven Mysteries, in which is accomplished the healing of soul and body through the prayerful calling down on the sick man the grace of God and seven anointings with holy oil. This Mystery was established by our Lord Jesus Christ (c.f., Mk 6:13). Of its existence in the Ancient Church witnesses the Catholic Epistle of the Apostle James: “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14). In the same Epistle the forgiveness of sins is spoken of: "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him" (James 5:15).

The Holy Fathers write of the forgiveness of sins in the Mystery of Unction: “The power of the Mystery of Unction is in that in it are forgiven in particular those sins which were forgotten according to human weakness, and after forgiveness of sins gives physical health, if it be God’s will” (St Ambrose of Optina).

Reading Group, 5d

The “Law of Being” which Gives Healing Power to Co-Suffering Love

a. In considering the expression “The Son of God took on our nature,” it’s necessary to elucidate what nature is.

b. It is correctly explained in textbooks that the person or hypostasis is an individual principle of which there are three in the Holy Trinity but one in the God-Man, and that nature is the sun of the properties of a given nature. But we have come to understand nature as only the abstraction and summation of properties present in each personal individually and, consequently, comprising a single general abstract idea, and only that.

c. Dive revelation and our Church dogmatic teach otherwise. The nature of the Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity is one, and we do not say that we have three gods, but one God.

d. St Gregory of Nyssa teaches that the expression “three men” is incorrect, because man in one, though there exist separate human persons. But the reader may object: “What is there in common if they hate and cannot even tolerate one another?”

e. The answer is found in the very question itself. God did not create man for hatred and self-love, and the consciousness of the sharp separateness from each other is an abnormal condition, borne of sin.

f. The common human nature is above all a collective will.

g. It may be objected that a common will is not felt with other people, but it can be felt with animals.

h. This is indeed the case now, but it was not always so, as St Basil the Great, the Gospel of St John, and St Paul demonstrate.

i. The unity of human nature, broken by the sin of Adam and his descendants, is to be gradually reestablished through Christ and His redeeming love with such strength that in the future life this oneness will be expressed more strongly than the present multiplicity of human persons, and Christ, united with us into one Being, shall be called the new Man, the One Church, He being its head.

j. The salvation which Christ brought to mankind consists not only of the conscious assimilation of Christ’s principal truths and His love, but also in the fact that by means of His co-suffering love, Christ obliterates the partition which sin has set up between people, reestablishes the original oneness of nature and obtains direct access into the spiritual bosom of human nature.The direct entry of Christ’s nature and His good volition into our nature is called grace. The subjective feelings of co-suffering love becomes an objective power which re-establishes the oneness of human nature.
  • How does Metropolitan Anthony define human nature? How are its unity and disunity manifested?
  • How does this affect an “objective” understanding of the mystery of redemption?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Who is Fr Job?

I recently received a question asking who Fr Job was. I've found a short biography online, and have translated and hyperlinked it for you:
Hieromonk Job (Gumerov) was born in 1942. In 1966, he graduated from the philosophy department of Moscow State University, and then received the degree of aspirantura. He defended his candidate’s dissertation in the Institute of Philosophy on the theme “A Systematic Analysis of the Changes in Social Organization”; then for fifteen years he worked as a senior research fellow at the All-Union Scientific Research Institute for System Studies, Academy of Sciences. He graduated from the Moscow Theological Seminary, and then the Theological Academy. He defended his thesis for the degree of Candidate in Theology. He taught Foundational Theology at the Moscow Theological Seminary and Old Testament at the Theological Academy. He is in charge of the "Questions to a Priest" on the site

In 1990, he was ordained a deacon, and was ordained to the priesthood in the same year. He has served at the St. Vladimir Church in Starykh Sadekh, the St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Church in Khamovniki, and Ivanovo Monastery [all in Moscow]. Since 2003, he has lived at the Sretensky Monastery [in Central Moscow]. In April 2005, he was tonsured to monasticism with the name Job [his Baptismal name had been Athanasius].
For a clear explanation of what these degrees mean, see here.

Interview with A. I. Sidorov (1 of 2)

I've previously offered two excerpts (one, two) from an interview with one of my living theological heroes, Professor A. I. Sidorov. I now offer the complete translation, in two parts, of a new interview with Dr Sidorov. My thanks go out to Natalia Mikhaylova for thoroughly vetting the translation, and to Isaac (Gerald) Herrin for proofing it. The interview was conducted May 21, 2010 by Vyacheslav Golzow, a fourth-year seminarian at Sretensky Theological Seminary.
Patrology is the Vital Life of the Church

Aleksei Ivanovich Sidorov is a doctor of church history and a professor of the Moscow Theological Academy and the Sretensky Theological Seminary. Born in 1944, in 1975 he graduated from the historical faculty of Moscow State University in the department of the history of the ancient world, and completed the degree of aspirant from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of General History. A. I. Sidorov has published ten books, among which are The Works of St Maximus the Confessor: Theology and Ascetic Tracts; The Works of Abba Evagrius: Ascetic and Theological Tracts; Blessed Theodorit of Cyprus: History of the Lovers of God; Course of Patrology: The Emergence of Church Letters, and more than 100 scholarly articles.

– Aleksei Ivanovich, please tell us what patrology is and when it arose.

– I wrote about this in my first (and so far only) volume of patrology. Patrology is the teaching about the Fathers which, however, is not limited only to the Holy Fathers; ecclesiastical writers must also fit into it. Without it patrology can not be complete. If we, for instance, do not study Clement of Alexandria, who was not a Church Father, but was a brilliant ecclesiastical writer and thinker, then we will not understand the formation of all patristic theology.

Strictly speaking, patrology, as a science, arose in recent times, but I don’t want to speak of it strictly in a scientific meaning, because its subject is the vital life of the Church, this is an authentic patristic Tradition, which lives in the Church and began immediately after the Apostles. Why do we study the apostolic fathers such as the Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer? Because he spoke and studied in the spirit of Tradition. One could say that patrology as a science of the Fathers and the very life of the Church are inseparably united. One cannot, like some of us sometimes do, separate the science of the Fathers from the living current of Church Tradition, as something differing in origin from this Tradition. Such an approach, in my opinion, is fatal for patrology.

– How does patrology differ from patristics?

– Previously it was considered that patristics studies only the teaching of the Fathers, but patrology includes in itself three main elements: the life of the Fathers, their works, and their theology. But at the present time these two understandings are practically mutually interchangeable. I prefer the word patrology, but this is just my personal opinion.

– Aleksei Ivanovich, which periods are defined in the study of patristic writing?

– I usually give this periodization at the very beginning of the introduction to patrology. I must warn that patrology does not have an upper limit, and therefore in theological school they have begun to study Russian and general Slavonic patrology. One could say that this “pushes” patrology’s upper limit, for our Orthodox Church is forever generating more and more Fathers. Soon, I think, “new Greek patrology” should be studied.

I myself study classical patrology, which takes up the enormous epoch from the end of the first century and ends in the Greek East with the fall of Byzantium. Within this enormous epoch exist more concrete periods, although this periodization cannot always be defined with exact borders. Traditionally one always defines the pre-Nicene period, and then the “golden age” of patristic writing. Several general tendencies emerge in the “golden age”: for example, the Cappadocian Fathers, the “new Alexandrians” (St Athanasius the Great and Cyrill of Alexandria), the Fathers and ecclesiastical writers of the Antiochian school, the Latin Fathers and ecclesiastical writers. Syrian patrology also appears: Aphraates, the Persian Sage, St Ephraim the Syrian. But after the “golden age” begins a period that is hard to fix – until the beginning of iconoclasm: it takes up two and a half centuries. Following them, that is after St John of Damascus, begins Byzantine patrology proper with its own distinguishing features, but it so far is less studied than the preceding periods.

– When did the subject “Patrology” appear among the disciplines taught in theological schools?

– In Russia, this course began in the beginning of the nineteenth century, and its appearance, in my opinion, was wholly rightful. If one is to study the Tradition of the Church, how can one not study patrology in theological schools?

– How many classes of students-seminarians study patrology?

– In the seminary patrology is studied for three years.

– What guides you in the composition of a course?

– Every course is always a creation. Before I used to think that it was enough to write a book and there you go, read! But, as it turns out, a book isn’t enough. It happens that students either don’t read the textbooks, or they cursorily glance at them, and therefore the material either doesn’t reach them or catches up with them only superficially. Besides, everything that’s written in books is received differently than the spoken word. Sometimes they say: “Why, in fact, are lectures necessary?” Once I, too, thought roughly the same way, and then I understood that the living word and books – these are entirely different things. In what the teacher gives, a given amount of informative material is always, naturally, present, but the point is not so much in information, as much as how the teacher choses the material and how he presents it. Here arises the creativity of teaching, which depends on his personal opinions, spiritual experience, and even cultural and aesthetic sympathies. It is very important to establish a living connection with the auditorium. Every course is unique and unrepeatable, and the teaching depends on how the material is received by the auditorium. To find a point of contact from the first lesson, as a rule, is difficult; but later the relationship between the teacher and students usually develops and the line of teaching to a given course arises. Of course, there is a specific syllabus, and the teacher is bound to follow them. But into this “matrix” one can put different structures, in which the pedagogical approach of every teacher arises. One should always remember one simple thing: a pedagog is not a computer who gives information – and study it. Every lecture is a “synergy” between the teacher and students. And the success of the teacher depends a great deal on the latter.

– How long have you studied the patristic heritage?

– From the time I entered the Church, for about thirty years.

Aleksei Ivanovich, the readers of this website would like to know in more detail about your academic works.

– I now have ten books and more than 100 articles. The greatest number of them are translations and commentary. I opened this enormous stratum completely involuntarily, since I am not a philologist in the proper sense of this word. But the translation of the Holy Fathers immediately became for me not simply the main object of my scholarly interests, but began simultaneously with the process of churchification. Unfortunately, there never was enough, and there isn’t enough, time for these translations. I can say one thing: the most blessed state for me is when I am translating the Holy Fathers and more exactly – communing with them. They are, after all, alive and are my spiritual instructors.

– You know ancient Greek perfectly. Where did you study it? Could you ever have thought that you might use it for the translation of the Holy Fathers?

– To know ancient Greek perfectly is impossible, because it’s a dead language. Simply, the more one translates the better one gets at it; when one often works with the Greek text, one develops specific ways of working with the text. But I repeat yet again that I’m not a philologist, and there are gifted philologists who are much more professional than I am. For me philology was and remains a simple instrument. In my time I graduated from the Moscow State University, the department of the history of the ancient world and the department of ancient languages – the were always closely connected. An historian must know the language tools. But an historian cannot posses languages as well as a philologist does.

However I can not call myself an historian in the exact sense of this word. In my university years and after them I was always drawn to the study of ancient philosophy: Plato, Plotinus, and neo-Platonism. Before my coming to the Church I was actively involved with this, as well as with gnosticism. Naturally, in the Soviet period no one could teach me how to translate the Holy Fathers. Andrei Cheslavovich Kazarzhevsky, whose lectures I attended, taught a purely philological discipline: the language of the New Testament, and in his lectures strove to avoid “religious associations” (for which one could be simply thrown out of the university). I had to become an autodidact. I’m still studying, since every Holy Father, to whose work I turn, demands a constantly deepening “entry” into him. Normally I translate two or three texts, and every author becomes my teacher. I’m sixty-five years old and can honestly admit, without showing off, that up until now I’m constantly studying.

As far as patristic texts are concerned, they are practically untranslatable, inasmuch as, as a rule, one retells more or less adequately these texts. I am convinced that every translation is only a translation. It will never have the status of “first freshness” because of the transferral of its content through the means of another language. But such a conveyance requires the translator to understand the author and for me that’s fundamental. To understand not only with the intellect, with the mind, but more importantly with the heart. Therefore I am deeply certain that only a church person can translate the Holy Fathers. If he’s not a church person, he simply will not understand what’s being talked about, even if he is the most brilliant philologist.

– What do you suggest: should a seminarian know ancient Greek in order to study patrology?

– It’s desirable, in any case. But, knowing the load of seminarians, I see in this a certain luxury. One needs to study Greek earlier. And what does it mean to study a language? Language is a labor, and therefore there is fruit to this labor, that is the knowledge of a new language, which is always valuable if it serves to glorify God, and not personal vainglory and pride.

In general, the more languages one knows, the more comprehensible one’s own language will become, inasmuch as in the study of a foreign language you begin to understand and value your own language. Therefore I have always supported the initiative for students of our theological schools to study ancient languages – Greek and Latin, but the real results of this study leave much to be desired.

However, the undoubted fact should be pointed out, that the deep study of foreign languages is not necessary for the majority of seminarians, for we aren’t a language college. What’s necessary here is a rational minimum, necessary for general growth. But I do think that it’s sensible to have small language groups (even one or two students) on every class for those wishing to study more deeply ancient and modern languages.

– What tendencies in the study of patrology exist in the West and in Russia? Are there methodological peculiarities?

– I’d put the question differently. The West is very different, and beyond this. It is undergoing a catastrophic de-Christianization. In the West there are Catholics and there are Protestants, and the Fathers of the Church are studied by both Catholics and Protestants. The Fathers are studied even by non-confessional people; that is, unbelievers. As in Russia, there are also philosophers who study the works of the Holy Fathers with a specific approach. But if we’re talking about patrology, then of course we in Russia are very much indebted to what goes on in the West. And I personally am grateful to Catholic scholars who publishes texts of the Holy Fathers, and we use their work. We also use the fruits of Protestant scholars, and their work in the study of, for example, Macarius of Egypt should be acknowledged.

But if we regard patrology (not patristics) as a fundamental discipline, then here church-ness is presupposed, and in my opinion it is the fundamental criterion in approaching patristic works. So, for example, St Gregory Palamas is studied in the West. Catholics approach him variously, in relation to their convictions and views, the swinging of which can be very significant: some scholars almost sympathize with him, and others consider him completely foreign to the Catholic tradition. But among us also his teaching is sometimes taken as a certain intellectual system, focusing attention on the importance of the distinction between essence and energy in God. But here one must understand that, no matter what problems could arise while studying the works of St Gregory Palamas, the most important postulate for us is the recognition that he is a Holy Father. This saint is an inseparable part of church Tradition, and he is higher than any scholar, who might find some flaw in his argument or some other imperfection. And he is above us on the strength of one fact, that he is a Holy Father.

If we start from the recognition of holiness at the study of the patristic heritage, then this is our main and distinguishing principle of an Orthodox approach to the patristic heritage. For Catholics, Gregory Palamas is one of the Byzantine writers; he is not a Holy Father and is not recognized as such by them, but for us he is one of the main links of the patristic Tradition. And when they talk about some sort of “Palamism,” I have always protested and am protesting, this inadequate term. Then let’s call the teaching of St Maximus the Confessor “Maximusism” and study him as “Maximusism.” When we do this, we remove a Holy Father from the context of the patristic Tradition. By the way, Vladyka Basil (Krivoshein), and Vladimir Nikolaevich Lossky, and Fr Geroges Florovsky wrote about this. They all beautifully felt the living connection of St Gregory Palmas with the patristic Tradition.

– What, in your opinion, is the greatest difficulty in the study of the patristic heritage for contemporary seminarians? Are there works that are especially difficult to understand?

– You see, here one must understand and feel the context. Try simply to read a work, for example, St John Chrysostom’s homilies on the Gospel according to Matthew. After a certain time almost every seminarian is going to get bored, and with the boredom come a tiredness: this is a different language, a different world and culture, and, consequently, the culture of the word is different. One must undertake an inner podvig in order that St John Chrysostom would become clear and understandable. This is what I call a kind of ascesis, that is, the overcoming of our sinful idleness, and people, as is known, don’t often want to overcome it and use force. Such an ascesis assumes, of course, that one lives all one’s life as the Fathers teach. Therefore here often arise problems.

Mental Disorders and Spiritual Healing (2 of 5)

Dr Jean-Claude Larchet begins his second chapter of his book Mental Disorders and Spiritual Healing, “Insanity Due to Somatic Problems,” with this statement: “The Fathers did not fail to recognize that certain forms of folly or insanity had a physiological origin, and in doing so were in agreement with the medical conceptions prevalent at the time.” St Gregory of Nyssa offers an explanation of the relationship of mind and body using a standard metaphor:
Since the whole body is made like some musical instrument, just as it often happens in the case of those who know how to play, but are unable, because of the unfitness of the instrument does not admit of their art, to show their skill (for that which is destroyed by time, or broken by a fall, or rendered useless by rust or decay is mute and inefficient, even if it be breathed upon by one who may be an excellent artist in flute-playing); so too the mind, passing over the the whole instrument, and touching each of the parts in a mode corresponding to its intellectual activities, according to its nature, produces its proper effect on those parts which are in a natural condition, but remains inoperative and ineffective upon those which are unable to admit the movement of its art; for the mind is somehow naturally adapted to be in close relation with that which is in a natural condition, but to be alien from that which is removed from nature. [And again], Each organ of the human composition has its own special activity. The power of the soul can remain effective, if the organ in question is maintained in a natural and healthy condition.
Therefore, “when psychic disorders are due to somatic problems, the soul itself is not defective, only its expression and manifestation are affected.” It is, Larchet writes, “the entire soul (which includes the spirit) that is affected by disorders, but it is, we repeat, only affected in its activity by means of the body. Only the possibility of this activity is destroyed or modified in the soul itself: the body alone impedes the normal realization of the soul and distorts its expression.”

The psychiatric symptoms that are presented in such cases “are not disorders of the soul except from a very superficial point of view. The insanity which in certain cases of its aspects gives its name to these disorders is strictly speaking not a sickness of the soul, but of the body.” Two consequences follow: first, “one can and indeed must base one’s treatment on purely physiological grounds because the soul is not itself involved, but only what is purely somatic”; second, “the treatment should be aimed at returning the bodily instrument to its normal state, to reconstitute the order of nature in a manner that leaves the soul intact in its essence, and thereby allow it once again [to] express itself normally, which is to say, without manifesting itself in difficulty because of the trouble with its mediating organ.”

But in treatment of insanity it is essential to determine the correct etiology; not all manifestations of insanity have a somatic origin. Larchet writes:
For, even if a naturalistic, materialistic, organistic, or mechanistic medicine asserts that insanity is necessarily caused by an organic disorder, the Patristic perspective, while admitting such to be true in certain cases, as we have just seen, refuses to extend this explanation to all cases; it also recognizes other possible causes, as will be seen in what follows. That the body in cases of insanity is always to some degree involved does not necessarily point to its causative or determining role, but holds to the strict relationship between the body and soul in the human composite. According to the Patristic anthropology, tis relationship, as we have seen, is ambivalent. The body conditions the soul, which in the totality of the human being possess the power of command, of giving the body life and movement, and making it the constant organ of its various acts. Every action of the soul is reflected and manifested in the body. Thus somatic disorders can have their origin in the natural action of the body by the intervention of elements foreign to the soul and can inhibit or disorganize the soul’s functioning without the sou being in any way troubled. But it is equally possible for what is involved on the plane of the body might have its origin in the soul itself and it is these possibilities which we must define.
I’ll continue with chapter three tomorrow

Inherited Rings

Q & A with Fr Job:
Question: How should I act with a ring that was taken from my departed grandmother and given to me in memory? Should it be blessed? Does wearing it involve anything negative?

Answer: The conveying of a marriage ring from older generations to younger generations fully corresponds to tradition. There is nothing negative in the ring. You can bless it with holy water, reading the prayer of blessing of all things (in the Prayer Book).

Reading Group, 5c

Bearers of Co-Suffering Love
Ministers of Redemption

a. Attention will now be directed to the bearers of co-suffering love and in what feeling and experience it is expressed.

b. The Church clearly teaches those who would partake of the Holy Mysteries that the grace of regeneration is given from the co-suffering love of Christ the Savior.

c. Examples can be found in the prayers before Communion, in St Paul, and in the prayer for the consecration of bishops.

d. The co-suffering love of a mother, friend, a spiritual shepherd or an apostle is operative only when it attracts Christ, the true Shepherd.

e. That which grace-bearing people can do only in part and only for some people, our Heavenly Redeemer can do, and does do, completely and for all.

f. During that night in Gethsemane, the thought and feeling of the God-Man embraced all of fallen humanity, and wept with grief over each one individually, as only the all-knowing divine heart could. Our redemption consisted in this.

g. Having suffered in His loving soul over our imperfection, the Lord poured into our nature a wellspring of new, vital strength.

h. If may be objected that is must be shown how this causes this communion of the Redeemer with those being redeemed; and it might also be objected that only a secondary significance is given the His physical sufferings, the shedding of His blood and death.

i. It may be replied that in the transmission of the compassionate, loving energies of the Redeemer into the spiritual nature of a believing person who calls upon His help, we find manifested a purely objective law of our spiritual nature revealed in our dogmas, but which our dogmatic sciences has not noticed.

j. The Savior’s prayer in Gethsemane was not inspired by fear of His approaching sufferings and death.

k. The Lord’s torments in Gethsemane came from a contemplation of the sinful life and evil disposition of all human generations.

l. Following St Paul (Heb 5:7), Christ prayed not for deliverance, but for relief fro His overwhelming grief for sinful mankind.

m. Comforted by the appearance of the angel, Christ went forth bravely to meet His enemies.

n Now the discussion will turn to the question of by what means Christ’s co-suffering love is redeeming.
1. How can Metropolitan Anthony claim that our redemption consisted in Christ’s co-suffering at Gethsemane?

Monday, June 14, 2010

First Celebration of the Feast of St Justin of Ćelije

Today, as I mentioned in my last post, is the first celebration of the feast day of St Justin of Ćelije. (Today was chosen because it is Fr Justin's nameday.) In honor of this historic occasion, I offer a translation done by myself and Aida Zamilova Judah of an article by Hieromonk Nektary (Radovanović) and originally published in the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, 1984, No.2.
Through the Pages of the Theological Works of
Archimandite Justin (Popović)

In the local Orthodox Churches the name of the doctor of theology Archimandirte Justin (Popović +1979) is well known.

Archimandrite Justin was born on April 7, 1894, on the Feast of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos, in the ancient Serbian city of Vranje into the pious family of a priest, which had given the Serbian Church seven generations of clergy. In Baptism he was given the name Blagoje, in honor of the Feast of the Annunciation.

In the years 1905 to 1914, Blagoje Popović studied in the Seminary of St. Sava of Serbia in Belgrade. In his young years he was especially interested in questions of contemporary literature and philosophy. He gave the greatest attention to the works of F. M. Dostoevsky, about whom he later wrote two studies: The Philosophy and Religion of F. M. Dostoevsky and Dostoevsky on Europe and Slavism.

Patristic works made a decisive influence on the formation of Archimandrite Justin’s spiritual character. The Holy Fathers were for him, and remained to the end of his life, irreplaceable teachers and instructors. He was wholly guided by their teachings. Archimandrite Justin especially loved St. John Chrysostom, to whom he prayed without ceasing with childlike sincerity: “I feel a particular merciful closeness of St. John Chrysostom to me, a sinner,” he wrote, “My soul ascends to him in prayer: enlighten me by thy prayers... grant me to struggle in your struggle...”

In 1916, Blagoje Popović accepted the monastic tonsure with the name Justin, in honor of Hieromartyr Justin the Philosopher (+166; memory on June 1). Indeed, like him, Archimandrite Justin was an authentic thinker who assimilated the truth of Christianity. At the foundation of his theology he put humblemindedness, following in this the example of St. John Chrysostom, to whom, as is known, belong the remarkable words: “The foundation of our Christian philosophy is humblemindedness, for without it truth is blind.” It is precisely for this reason that in his Divine contemplation Fr. Justin does not talk about Christ as an ordinary person (or an “historical personage”), but rather as the God-Man, the Savior of the world. Fr. Justin considered authentic divine theologizing of Christ in the Holy Spirit to be only that Divine contemplation in which the mind and the heart (thought and feeling) were united in prayer, passing into contemplation and Divine vision. He often said: “Heavy is any of my thoughts, which, having arisen, is not converted into prayer.”

Shortly after his tonsure, with the blessing of the Serbian Metropolitan Dimitri (later His Holiness, the Patriarch of Serbia), Fr. Justin went to Petersburg, where he entered the theological academy. During the time of his study in the academy, Fr. Justin got to know Orthodox Russia well and to love it deeply. Here he obtained a wide theological knowledge. Here he grew spiritually, being acquainted with Russian holy things and the works of saints. From this time and throughout his life, Fr. Justin deeply loved St. Serge of Radonezh and other Russian saints; he became close to St. Seraphim of Sarov in a spiritual, prayerful way. Even then Fr. Justin understood that the soul of the people, its spirit, is hidden in the great deeds of saints, for true Orthodoxy is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit.

In June 1916, Fr. Justin went to England, where he enrolled at Oxford University. He studied there until 1919 and then returned to his homeland. In the same year he went to Athens, where until 1921 he worked on his doctoral dissertation The Problem of the Personality and of Knowledge According to St. Macarius of Egypt, which he successfully defended in 1926 in Athens. (A part of the dissertation was later published in the journal Theology, Righteousness, and Life. Athens, 1962, pp. 153-175). All these years the prayerful podvig of Fr. Justin increased, which is evident in his spiritual contemplations: “How many years must a man introduce the fragrant leaven of Heaven into the dough of his essence, how many years must he spend remaking himself by the evangelical virtues! From the cave of my body I see Thee, O Lord, and keep looking, and yet I cannot see you completely. I know, I feel, and know that Thou are the only Architect, O Lord, Who can build the eternal home of my soul. The builders are prayer, tears, fasting, love, humility, meekness, patience, hope, co-suffering. . .”

From 1921, Fr. Justin taught New Testament, dogmatic theology, and patrology at the seminary at Sremska Karlovci. In 1922, he was ordained hieromonk, and from that time became a spiritual father to many in the flock.

In 1930, the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church appointed Fr. Justin the assistant of Bishop Joseph of Bitola. The common task for Vladyka Joseph and his assistant became the organization of Orthodox parishes in Czechoslovakia, especially in the Preshov region in the so-called Carpatorossia, where at the time the Uniates began to return to the bosom of Orthodoxy.

Fr. Justin gave much energy to this indeed difficult but God-pleasing work. Slovak Christians themselves sought out help. For that reason, His Grace Joseph asked the Holy Synod to consecrate Fr. Justin as bishop of the newly-restored Mukachevo diocese in Transcarpathia. But Fr. Justin refused the episcopal rank. His letter to Vladyka Joseph witnesses to that: “I ask Your Grace to pardon me and forgive me for doing this. I write this by the irresistible conviction of my conscience... I’ve refused before and I refuse again to accept the rank of bishop. My refusal is not the result of a passing mood. I looked at myself long and hard, according to the Gospel, and judged myself according to the Gospel, and arrived at the unchangeable conclusion: I cannot accept the rank of bishop under any circumstances. For I know myself very well: it is very difficult to keep my own soul within the boundaries of Christ’s goodness, not to mention hundreds of thousands of other people’s souls. And to answer for them before God.”

In 1932, Fr. Justin returned from Czechoslovakia and began to work on the first volume of his Dogmatics, which was published the same year. Then he became a professor at the Theological Seminary in Sremska Karlovci. Two years later the Holy Synod appointed him docent in the Theological Faculty at the University of Belgrade.

In 1935, Fr. Justin published the second volume of his Dogmatics, in which he expounds the Orthodox teaching on the God-Man and His deed (Christology and Soteriology).

In the same years, together with other prominent members of the Serbian spiritual culture, Fr. Justin participated in the founding of the Serbian Philosophical Society.

In 1948, Fr. Justin was appointed spiritual father of the Chelje women’s monastery. He stayed here to the end of his life, dedicating his time to prayer, Divine contemplation, and scholarly theological and translation work.

Quite a lot has been written in various Orthodox magazines about Fr. Justin’s contribution to contemporary Orthodox theology. A special issue of the Greek church magazine Paradosis (Tradition) for 1979 was dedicated to him.

The author of one of the articles published in connection with Fr. Justin’s repose wrote, covering his life and work: “... it would not be an exaggeration if we characterized him as one of the most outstanding contemporary Fathers of Orthodox theology.”

As an author, Fr. Justin left behind a voluminous legacy: three volumes of Dogmatics, twelve volumes of The Lives of Saints, various theological works, and numerous epistles and letters.

Fr. Justin’s inner, spiritual experience is captured in his works full of theological depths and elevated poetry.

The most important works that help penetrate the spirit of the theologizing of Archimandrite Justin (Popović) are his Dogmatics and The Lives of Saints.

In the introduction to the first volume of his Dogmatics, Fr. Justin writes: “Moved from non-existence to All-existence, man, dressed in the marvelous form of matter and spirit, takes a pilgrimage through the marvelous mysteries of God. The further he is from non-being and the closer to All-being, the more he hungers for immortality and sinlessness, all the more he thirsts for the inaccessible and eternal. But there is a tyrannical pull to non-existence, and sin and death greedily conceal the soul. All the wisdom of life is to overcome non-being in ourselves and around us and to immerse ourselves entirely in All-being. The Holy Spirit teaches this wisdom, for He is wisdom and knowledge – grace-given wisdom and grace-given knowledge about the nature of being; and the center of this knowledge is the knowledge of the Divine and the human, the invisible and the visible. Divine contemplation in the Holy Spirit is at the same time a morally creative power which, through the process of man imitating God on the path of ascetic, grace-filled perfection, multiplies in man Divine knowledge of God and the world. Being enlivened by the Holy Spirit is the only art that can, from a variegated and very complex human essence, sculpt a person in the likeness of God, in the image of Christ.

“Knowledge of God in the Holy Spirit is, in this way, that truth about God, the world, and man that the Orthodox Church calls the dogmas of faith. Therefore dogmatics is a science of the eternal truths of God that are revealed to people so that they may put them into practice in their lives and through that attain the eternal goal of our existence, of our martyric pilgrimage from non-being to All-being...”

The living embodiments of these Divinely-revealed truths, Fr. Justin believed, are the saints⎯the bearers of these truths and at the same time their preachers and confessors.

The Orthodox dogmatist must turn with all his works to the saints, to learn from them, to be in prayerful communion with them, in fasting and spiritual wakefulness. Thus, the work of an Orthodox dogmatist is the podvig of sobering his mind.

In the introduction to his book An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, St. John of Damascus once and for all consolidated the guiding principle for establishing a dogmatic system: “I will not say anything of myself, but will explain briefly what God’s wise men told.” Citing these words of the great saint, Fr. Justin witnesses: “I, in my nothingness and misery, can hardly dare to say that I have kept to his principle. If anything in my work is good, evangelical, and Orthodox, then all that belongs to the Holy Fathers, and everything that is opposed to that is mine, only my own…”

Fr. Justin says that through the Incarnation of the Son of God, the Divine Truths became more accessible to man. And this means that Christ is inevitably replicated in every Christian, for every Christian is an organic part of Christ’s Church, which is His Divine-human Body.

Fr. Justin saw the path to immortality in the organic unity of man with the person of the God-Man Christ, with His Body, with the Church. “I know and I feel,” he wrote, “that only in Him and with Him I am an eternal self, a divine eternal self. Without this I do not need myself.”

The goal of the Church’s ministry is that all believers would unite organically and personally with the Person of Christ, so that their self-perception would become Christ-perception and their self-consciousness would become Christ-consciousness; so that their whole life would be the life of Christ and so that they no longer live, but Christ in them (Gal 2: 20).

To find oneself is to find in oneself the God-Man Christ, but He dwells only in His Church, who is His living incarnation. It is a Divine-human eternity, incarnate within space and time. It is in the world, but not of the world (Jn 18:36). Therefore in the Church the Person of the God-Man Christ is the only guide leading man though mortality and temporality into immortality and eternity.

God became man, while remaining God, so that as God he would give the human nature Divine power that would lead man to the closest Divine-human unity with God. And this Divine power of His constantly works in His Divine-human body – the Church, uniting people with God through grace and holy life. For the Church cannot be anything other than a pure and miracle-working Divine-human organism, in which the participation of God’s grace and man’s freedom forms immortality and deifies everything human, everything except sin. In the Divine-human organism of the Church every believer is like a living cell that becomes an integral part of that organism and lives by its Divine-human power.

Calling the Church the Body of Christ, the holy Apostle Paul establishes a link between its essence and the mystery of God’s Incarnation and shows that the living and unchangeable foundation of the Church is in that “the Word became flesh” (Jn 1:14). This truth is the main truth of the Church, its foundation. The Church is primarily a Divine-human organism and only then a human community.

The nature of the Church is Divine and human, from which follows its Divine-human activity in the world: everything Divine becomes incarnate in man and humanity. Therefore the mission of the Church, in its very nature, is to bring about the Divine-human, spiritual values in the human world.

Confessing the God-Man, the Church, as Fr. Justin emphasized, also confesses man in his authentic and God-created unity. For without the God-Man there is no true man.

The ontology of the human person is its Divine image. Through the Divine image, man is given all the Divine strength to achieve eternal perfection: “My infinity draws me to Thee, O Infinite God!”

The value of man, Fr. Justin witnesses, is determined by what is in his inner world. In its unfathomable depths that inner world is in contact with the Absolute Reality, the bearer of Which man is. Supporting such a connection, that is, absorbing in themselves the eternal spiritual kingdom, Christians by virtue of their continuous spiritual growth become endless, although not without beginning. And indeed, who can explore the metaphysical depths of man? “For who among men knoweth the things of a man, except the spirit of the man that is in him” (1 Cor 2:11). He who earnestly observes the material and spiritual realities of the universe cannot but feel the presence of an infinite mystery in all phenomena. The human spirit persistently strives to comprehend the mysterious. The constant movement of the human spirit in that direction is the second, supernatural component of him as a person. Keeping in mind the natural component also, Fr. Justin resolves the fundamental question of anthropology in this manner: “We can conclude that man is man exactly because he is the bearer of an individual supernatural gift that manifests itself in self-perfection, creativity, and intellectual activity.” The whole human spirit longs for eternity: through consciousness and through the senses, through will and through all life, and that means that it longs for immortality. Thus, Fr. Justin considered the human aspiration to infinity, to immortality, belongs to the very essence of the human spirit.

Created in the image of God, man is full of spiritual yearning, for the Divine image is the principle thing in man’s essence. And this aspiration of the Divinely-imaged soul towards its Archetype is natural.

By giving man the [seemingly impossible] commandment: “Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt 5:48), Lord Jesus Christ pointed to the [real] possibility of realization, through grace, of the Divinely-imaged human being. He would not have commanded something impossible.

The image of God in man’s nature, Fr. Justin remarks, has an ontological and a teleological meaning: ontological, because in it is the essence of the human being; teleological, because it indicates the goal of life: unity with God.

However, by bending his free will to sin, man, instead of becoming a communicant of the Divine life by virtue of the Divine image of his soul, put a distance between himself and the Divine. He shrunk into his shell and began to live without the supernatural Guide inherent to his soul. That was his first act of opposing his own essence created in the Divine image. Since that moment, man has made himself godless by forcing God out of himself into the transhuman, otherworldly transcendence and found himself before a gaping abyss that separated man and God. The human essence suffered a catastrophe that disrupted the God-created nature of man and shifted its center. Consequently, man lost the ability to understand himself and the world around him.

Man's love of sin gave the devil power over him, which brought about the danger of “the devil-man” appearing. It was at this point that God-Man came to the world to save man from sin, evil, devil, and eternal death.

Through His death on the Cross our Lord Jesus Christ made it possible for man to return to his own Divine image, to transition from sin to Light and Truth, from death to Life.

When the God-Man Jesus Christ elevated Himself on the Cross, He at the same time elevated man to the first level of Heaven, on which He reconciled the two worlds—the Heavenly and the earthly; He connected Heaven and earth. At the top of that ladder is He Himself—the King of Glory, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Behold, O man, the many opportunities for you to grow upwards! From the bottom of the abyss to the top of the heaven, and higher than any heaven!

The ability to think is Divine in nature and has a heavenly origin. It was given to man to link him to Heaven, to God, to eternity.

But pride, this powerful instrument of the enemy of salvation, caused human thought to separate itself from God and caused man to imagine himself infallible.

The true spiritual formation of man lies exclusively in his victory over death, in the ultimate transfiguration of his soul and body, in his liberation from sin and evil—those sources of death. Certainty about immortality comes through knowing God; that knowledge, as it is, does not tolerate sin that engenders death.

Starting in 1972, Archimandrite Justin began the publication of his twelve-volume work on the saints of the Orthodox Church called The Lives of Saints, which he had compiled long ago. Publication of this significant work was finished at the end of 1978, which has an important significance. Soon after the publication of The Lives of Saints, hagiology was introduced as a permanent course into the program of studies in religious seminaries.

While Fr. Justin's Dogmatics is the fruit of his predominantly ecclesiastical and scientific research, The Lives of Saints reveals the spiritual experience of a man who is filled with Christ to his very depths. The Lives of Saints shows us the mysterious path to Christ that all the ascetics had walked on. The author of The Lives of Saints, being an ascetic himself, understands the tears of ascetics, being a martyr for faith—the pain of martyrs, being a monk—the monastic experience of comprehending the Divine, and being a modern Orthodox theologian—the theology of the Fathers and teachers of the Church.

Fr. Justin started his translation into Serbian and his systematic work on the lives of the Orthodox Church saints after World War II.

Fr. Justin comments on his reasons for writing that “simple,” in comparison to his dogmatic works, book, “The lives of saints are, as a matter of fact, dogmatics incarnate, because in them all the eternal and holy dogmatic truths come to life in all their life-creating and meaningful power.”

The lives of saints most visibly confirm that the dogmas are not only ontological truths in themselves and for themselves, but that every dogma is the source of Eternal Life and holy spirituality, according to the words of the Savior: “. . . the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (Jn 6:63). For every word of God gives man a saving, sanctifying force that fills him with joy, revives, and transforms him. The lives of saints contain all Orthodox ethics in all its magnificence and irresistible force. The lives of saints are “the only pedagogics of Orthodoxy” and “an Orthodox encyclopedia of a sort.” Fr. Justin views “The Lives of Saints” as a sequel to the Acts of the Apostles, which tell about the spread of Christianity and confirm it. The lives of saints are the Gospel, life, truth, love, faith, eternity, and the power of the Lord, for “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

In any century, the Lord grants the same grace and performs the same Divine acts for all who believe in Him. Saints, as Fr. Justin remarks, “are the people in whom the holy Divine-human life of Christ is being continued from generation to generation and unto the end of the ages.” They all constitute the Body of Christ⎯the Church, and are inseparably united with Christ and among themselves. The river of immortal Divine life begins with the God-Man Christ, and Christians come through Him to Eternal life. The lives of saints are of great significance, because “we cannot reach” the holy and Eternal life “individually, but we can do it with all the saints, with their help and under their guidance, through the Holy Mysteries and the good works in the Church.”

It was this significance of the saints and, consequently, the importance of their lives for our salvation in the Church that caused Fr. Justin to write in Serbian the first complete Orthodox Synaxarian, that is a compilation of the hagiographies of saints.

Important sources for Fr. Justin were the Synaxarian by St. Nicodemus the Athonite, The Lives of Saints (Menologion) by Saint Dimitry of Rostov, original Greek manuscripts from various critical editions, the Church of Constantinople Synaxarian, and many other patristic and theological works.

The writer ends The Lives of Saints with a historic overview of attempts to write down the lives of saints in early Christianity, starting with the Acts of the Apostles, in which St. Apostle Luke first described “the labors and sufferings of the first disciples of our Savior and of His successors.”

Following this overview, Father Justin analyzes the narrations about the holy ascetics published as Pateriks, Herontiks, and Limonars as well as collections of the lives of saints of the Byzantine and post-Byzantine period, and so on, up to the modern critical scientific publications of the ancient hagiographic manuscripts. Those publications are characterized by the spirit of rationalistic criticism which has defined, according to Fr. Justin’s words, “the position of their authors against the lives of saints.”

According to the Orthodox tradition, Fr. Justin distributes the abundant hagiographic material of the liturgical year throughout the indiction. Every separate volume (for September, October, etc.,) contains the lives of saints who are commemorated in one particular month. The lives of saints commemorated on the same day are assigned a special chapter. In addition, whenever space permits, he publishes a picture of one of the Orthodox churches or monasteries named after the saint being remembered. The entire twelve volume publication includes images of more than two hundred Orthodox churches that vividly demonstrate the characteristic features of the church architecture of the Orthodox peoples from Alaska to Korea and Japan and from Africa to India. The life of every saint is usually accompanied by the pictures of his ancient and new icons. At the end of each volume there is an alphabetic index of the names of the saints whose lives are described in the volume.

Fr. Justin was hoping to publish the thirteenth, final volume dedicated to the Paschal cycle, that is, to the Lenten Triodion and the Pentecostarion.

Simultaneously with the publication of The Lives of Saints, the hagiographies of the most revered Serbian saints were published in separate editions. The publication of The Lives of Saints aroused a great interest among the Serbian church community, especially among the professors of the Serbian Church history in religious schools. Those books are being currently used as textbooks for students of those schools. Abundant information on Church history, hagiography, patristics, dogmatics, as well as canoncial, pastoral, liturgical, and homiletical materials are put together on the 8,300 pages of The Lives of the Saints. Archimandrite Justin managed to make the Synxarian not only a narrative text and a scientific work, but also a work revealing a deep theological knowledge. The publication soon became a rare book.

This hagiological work by Fr. Justin is priceless for the Serbian Church. The lives of the Serbian saints contain the history of the Serbian Church and the Serbian state. The holy Nemanjić dynasty, beginning with its holy ancestor Simeon, the founder of the Chilandar monastery on Mount Athos, and his son St. Sava, the first Serbian archbishop, and ending with its last descendant martyr Uroš, combined the crown with the Cross, having united the ecclesiastic and state history of the Serbs. Of invaluable help in theological training will be also the lives of other, non-Serbian saints, as well as many quotations from the theological works by the Fathers and Teachers and the holy ascetics of the Church, which are published in this first complete Serbian Synaxarian.

The Lives are of great importance to Orthodoxy as a whole. According to God’s dispensation, Fr. Justin studied in England, where he came in contact with the non-Orthodox world and its way of thinking; in Russia, where He grasped the depth of Russian Orthodox spirituality; and in Athens, where he, as he himself would say, fell in love with the Holy Fathers’ Tradition. In Athens he met the outstanding Greek theologians of his time⎯Professors Balan and Diovuniotis, and studied with the later famous professor of dogmatics, now academician John Karmiris. Here he received the opportunity to study the Byzantine manuscripts that later became part of his Synaxarian. Such knowledge of many Orthodox peoples and traditions enabled Fr. Justin to create a work that can be truly considered common for all Orthodox people because of its scale and significance.

As time goes on, this work by Fr. Justin will play an increasingly important role in introducing the non-Orthodox and non-Christians to Orthodoxy and its spiritual values. This original ecclesiastical and scientific work is a model of an Orthodox Synaxarian. From now on it will be impossible to compile a Synaxarian without knowing Archimandrite Justin’s work.

Among the published works by Archimandrite Justin, except for the ones mentioned previously, we shall point out the following: The Epistemology of St. Isaac the Syrian, a collection of articles titled Man and the God-Man. Studies in Orthodox Theology, The Foundations of Theology, Theology of St. Sava as a Philosophy of Life, The Life of St. Sava and St. Simeon, The Orthodox Church and Ecumenism, and On the Forthcoming Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church.

Father Justin’s theological works, in the words of academician John Karmiris, are the pinnacle of spiritual self-expression of the Serbian Church (preface to the Greek edition of the book Man and God-Man. Athens, 1st ed. 1969. 2nd ed. 1974. p. 7).

Archimandrite Justin also left behind some unpublished works: Through Life With Apostle Paul (a multi-volume interpretation of Apostle Paul’s epistles); Interpretation of the General Epistles of the Holy Apostle John the Theologian; Interpretation of the Gospels according to Sts. Matthew and John; the thirteenth volume of The Lives of Saints⎯ The Lenten and Flowery Triodions; akathists to many saints, and other numerous theological and liturgical texts. Archimandrite Justin, a humble priest and a prominent theologian, belongs not only to the Serbian Church, but to the whole Orthodox world.

As Metropolitan Irenaeos of Crete said of him: “He was a gift of Divine grace that the Lord gave to His Orthodox Church.”