Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Judgement… One Woman’s VERY Personal Thoughts on the Matter…

Filed under: Christian,Orthodox faith,religious — 01varvara @ 00.00

No, this isn’t going to be a collection of patristic and scriptural quotes torn at random… rather, it’s one woman’s thoughts, one who happens to be a confessing Russian Orthodox Christian. I don’t claim to be speaking for the Church; I’m speaking for myself here. This isn’t the “Teaching of the Church”… it’s the “Reflections of an Orthodox Christian”. Take it as you will… these are my meditations on death and judgement, which arose after the passing of a very beloved friend.

Make no mistake, we’ll all face death, so, we should give some thought to what happens afterwards. Although there are times when the atheist submission that death is final looks all too real (especially after the latest escapade by clerical miscreants who get off scot-free, yet again), I believe that the Christian proposition is correct. That is, we shall face judgement after our passing. My position is that everything that we do as Christians in the Church is in preparation for this Encounter. I do NOT believe that the Judgement is a “heavenly court session”… in fact, I think that this erroneous idea has led to more atheism than most other things (except for “unfair” deaths… that’s the biggie, the largest cause of atheism, in my observation). The Judgement is an Encounter with the Living God. Full stop. You are going to be face-to-face with Goodness, Mercy, and Love… in all of its fullness and without any diminution. If you think that you’re ready for this… do think again. I can think of nothing more terrifying (in the classical sense of the word).

God IS ready to accept you… but you must recognise yourself as God sees you… not as you see yourself. You are going to be facing Someone who knows EVERYTHING about you… and is willing to love you in spite of all that. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ll have to abandon all self-categorisations and every excuse that you’ve used over the years. You must be willing to accept every jot and tittle of what you’ve done… the whole lot, without exception. Most of all, you’ll need to overcome your FEAR… as I grow older, the more I’m convinced that the saints who told us, “It’s a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God”, were not only correct, but under-exaggerating the matter. No, I’m not “afraid” of God… I’m going to meet Him sooner or later, whether I wish to or not. This is the most SERIOUS thing in our existence… and the most consequential. It shall determine our eternal destiny.

I think that Chrysostom was right… the Judgement is being in God’s Presence. Trust me, there are two options… either we shall run away as quickly as we can, or we shall fall down before Him (as much in fright as in adoration). It’s my personal opinion that God sentences no one to Hell… but that many choose that in preference to seeing themselves for what they truly are. One has to be able to say, “I have hurt others”. If you can’t say that… you’re on the hell-bound train, and it’s an express, not a local. That’s what the Patristic Deposit is all about… it’s what the Scripture is all about. Holy Writ and the Fathers aren’t talking points… they’re not proof texts for ignorant barely-converted Episkies and Sectarians. They’re brutally honest books giving us the real deal about our Encounter with the Living God. The older I get, the less patience that I have with “chapter-and-verse” thinking. That sort of thing won’t help you at the Last Day. I’ve no idea how I’d react in the Presence of my Creator and Saviour… I do know that being a jackass laden down with books isn’t going to help me one little bit. I pray for Light… that’s all that I can do.

I reiterate, I don’t claim that any of this is the Teaching of the Church… yet, I think that none of it contravenes any Dogma that I know of. I write this in the wake of the passing of a dear one… Denise, I love you and hope that I meet you again when my time comes to cross the bar. What more is there to say?

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Albany NY

A Photo Essay. A Great Spiritual Washing…

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In the far northern village of Krivoi Navalok, an amazing tradition survives; every year, the villagers wash the icons from the village church in the waters of the Ker-Yu River. No kidding… they carry the sacred images out of the village chapel, they go to the river in procession, and, quite literally, they wash the icons clean. For several centuries, the locals have held this annual ceremony of washing the icons, for they believe that the ritual gives life to the surrounding villages. A chapel to St Paraskeva the Great Martyr was built in the village at the beginning of the 13th century, at first, it stood near the Vashka River. According to local tradition, afterwards, the local shrine was moved to the junction of the Vashka River with the Ker-Yu River (in Komi, “Water of Logs”). During the Soviet period, the government tried to destroy the chapel, but nothing the godless tried worked, they failed to touch it. An old woman remembers the mortal anguish of a man who threw down one of the bells of the chapel… in less than a week, sores covered his body, and he bled to death. In the 1930s, local Komsomol activists hid in the woods when the authorities tried to force them to tear down the chapel… that was the depth of respect they had for the shrine, which was passed on to them by their elders. Finally, in the 1960s, A. Ostapov, the local collective farm chairman, rescued the chapel from destruction.

By the way, since very early times, the Church considered St Paraskeva (in the local dialect, “Paraskevei”) the patroness of all women and women’s work. St Paraskeva also looks after family well-being; they say that she also severely punishes violators of an ancient custom, on Fridays, women should have a day of rest from their work {Παρασκευή (Paraskevi) in Greek literally means “Friday”: editor}. However, on Fridays, the women who live by the banks of the Vashka have a day of rest. If a woman is barren, or if her children die young, people believe that St Paraskeva punished her for some sin. They can expiate this if they go to the chapel of St Paraskeva in Krivoi Navalok and participate in the ritual washing of the icons. Indeed, only women take care of the chapel of the Paraskeva the Great Martyr, and the holyday’s ritual of washing the icons is exclusively a women’s affair. They don’t even allow men to carry the icons.

3 July 2010

Gennady Mikheyev

Photo Polygon

http://photopolygon.com/blog/details?post_id=16770

Editor’s Note:

Some dislike the mixture of the secular and religious, the profane and the holy, and the heavenly and the earthy on this site. I have a simple reply, “Don’t be so heavenly-minded that you’re no earthly good”. There’s a codicil that follows that, “Don’t get so wrapped up in the ‘here-and-now’ that you forget the eternal… it’s later than you think”. Just as it’s good to remember the spiritual, don’t forget that we’re NOT bodiless angels… rather, we’re fleshly human beings (with an eternal destiny). If we don’t struggle for decency and justice on this earth, if we don’t treat the wounded of this world as the Samaritan did, we won’t get the Kingdom of Heaven either.

After all, it’s what Our Lord Christ did…

BMD

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin Opposed the Participation of the 1990s Élite in the Definition of Contemporary Russian Policy

The neocon Republicans and Wilsonian interventionist Democrats loved the chaos of the 90s in Russia… that’s why most ordinary Russians hate America with a Number One Purple Passion. Who cares if the little people were trampled upon and lost all their social protections… there’s rich people to protect! They’re the only ones with rights (Citizens United said so)… don’t forget that the GOP will fight to the death for the dividends of the lazy rentiers

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Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the MP Synodal Department for Church and Society, thinks that the “experts” who misled the country in the 1990’s shouldn’t play a decisive role in the development of today’s Russia. “These lame so-called ‘experts’ of the 90s shouldn’t play any decisive role in the economy or in international relations, even thought they pop up on the TV every now and again”, he wrote in an article published in the January issue of Русь державная (Rus Derzhavnaya: Sovereign Rus). According to Fr Vsevolod, in Russia, today, there’s a “new and more creative group of experts who aren’t burdened with the unbridled economics and electoral campaigns of the 90’s era; we must turn to this layer of thoughtful and concerned people, we must find a way to get them popular support and, together with the people, influence contemporary decisions”.

Summing up the first decade of 21st century in the life of the country, Fr Vsevolod brought to mind the recent events at Manezh Square, which, in his opinion, should encourage the authorities to “face the truth “ and to listen to the people. “Unfortunately, sometimes, they listen to a hopelessly compromised élite, which offers recipes dating back to the late eighties… these prescriptions never worked, and, now, are simply dangerous, because the situation doesn’t concern somewhere in the Baltics, it doesn’t require emergency measures. Today, only lazy people say that outsiders are defiant, impudent, rude, and violate law and morality. It’s necessary to strengthen our laws to prevent such conduct, to agree on moral and cultural rules, which should apply not only to emigrants, but also to the indigenous population”, Fr Vsevolod wrote in his article. At the same time, he’s convinced that “we should outlaw” any speech and slogans insulting towards any ethnic group that incites interethnic hatred, but, “We should be against illegal immigration too, just like any other violation of law. If any movement included Nazis or Neopagans, it would be bad for all concerned, especially the Russian people”, Fr Vsevolod wrote, as he’s convinced that contemporary Russian people need “ a national rebirth in their system of values, their faith, and their culture, which could help define governmental actions and societal development”.

4 January 2011

Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=38978

Editor’s Note:

Let’s put Fr Vsevolod’s words into plain English. The “reformers” of the 90s in Russia advocated the same programme as the Tea Party/GOP does today. Russia made no progress until Neoliberalism was thrown down and the Social Market took its place. Untold millions suffered and had their savings wiped out due to “privatisation”… but why care about them? They were just “little people”… they weren’t important oligarchs such as Khodorkovsky and Berezovsky (whom the US Republicans LOVE and blubber over… as do the Democrats, too… ponder that one). Fr Vsevolod hates the very basis of the American Free Market… as well he should… he saw the results of this demonic ideology in the 90s. Note well that Fr Vsevolod is the closest confidant of His Nibs. If he speaks, the Centre speaks, make no mistake on it. That is, any Orthodox Christian in the USA who supports Limbaugh, Beck, Palin, or any other GOP/Tea Party nihilist is placing themselves deliberately outside the ambit of Christ’s Church. There’s still time to do something about it… change your course before it’s too late.

BMD

Please, Excuse Me as I Weep… Denise Died Last Night

Filed under: domestic life — 01varvara @ 00.00

I just received word that Denise passed last night at 21.45… Nicky’s sister Susu was with her when she died… she wasn’t alone, thank the Good God. There’s not much to say when one is faced with such a tremendous mystery… no doubt, I’ll write something more meditative later. For now, I grieve. I thank all of you in advance for your kindness… I think that I’m going to try to keep busy to keep my mind off the topic. As a Christian, I know that she’s still with us, although she’s gone finally from this earthly realm…

I love you, Denise.

Вечная память…

BMD

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