Gospel, Kingdom, first and last

“Gospel –  the good news, the good news  that is misinterpreted in such  a way that a man after reading it has nothing left to do but to tighten his belt. But if we read the Gospel in the way it is handed to us, the good news that is joyful to the publicans and sinners, to fishermen and hooligans and is saddening to the righteous, to scribes, monks, and other wonderful people. The message of the good news is that everything is upside-down.

Two men came to pray. Luke 18:10-14

One of them is praying properly, the other one is praying improperly. Translated into our reality it would look something like this:

A righteous monk enters the church and prays properly and give thanks to God properly, and gives account to God properly. Then a corrupt man enters, the chief of the board of corrupt, boss of the office of bribery, where he is the leader and he controls everything. And he, without ever thinking of abandoning his profession, says: God, have mercy on me, a sinner. So, he doesn’t change, he remains a publican. When they leave the church, the outcome is upside down, good one becomes bad and bad one becomes good.

Same is in the parable of the unjust steward, who was bad, he mismanaged his master’s goods, but ends up as a good one. Same in the parable of the prodigal son, where the older son, who was faithful, who labored for his father, who didn’t run away –  ends up with a reprimand, while the younger prodigal son gets praise. Or the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, where the rich man, who was blessed by God with riches, ends up with nothing, while the poor man, who spent his life sitting with the dogs, he gets something out of it.

And our hope, rooted in Gospel, is that God didn’t change. So, what if God didn’t change, despite all the theologians, scientists and the other? What if he remained the same and it’s all the same with Him: whoever is first will be last, and the last one will be first. This, in fact, means that we are saved.

This means that we are first among all the nations of the planet, because he, who is the last on the list of those saved, most likely will end up first on the list, but the key is that he shouldn’t understand that, otherwise he will place himself at the beginning of the list and will end up at the end. But as soon as he’ll end up at the end of the list, he’ll be moved to the top of the list. And this means that we can’t know anything for sure, but we can only hope that God hasn’t changed. And just like the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, as  God told the rich man: you received good things in your life, you enjoyed life,  in the same way he will tell the righteous: you, righteous man of God, you already received your righteousness, half of you life you spent righteously, while these, the parishioners of this church, didn’t spend even a day righteously and He will tell us: enter into the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Sermon by Fr V Rubskiy

Do not give back to Caesar the things that are God’s

From the “Journal of Happiness” by Fr Nicolae Steinhardt:

“Give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”. This phrase is straightforward and totalitarian regimes, adding Rom 13, demand the faithful to show obedience and respect. Many Christians, who are confounding religion with stupidity, are jumping in to approve it: “thus says the text”!

They’re not reading carefully enough though. “Give back to Caesar” means to the state what belongs to the state, if it is a real one and acts correspondingly. When the state (Caesar) is preoccupied with its own affairs, with maintenance of roads, order, canalization, transportation, defense, administration and distribution of justice, it deserves our respect and everything that belongs to it: taxes, military service, civic-mindedness. While in case when the State ceases to be Caesar and becomes Mammon, when the king takes on the role of the medicine-man and civil power that of ideology, when it demands spiritual adherence, recognition of it’s spiritual supremacy, enslaves the conscience and brainwashes, when a state-defined happiness becomes a sole and mandatory model, the Savior’s commandment does not apply any longer, because one of the contract mandatory terms, that of identity of participants, is not respected (Caesar was substituted by Mammon). We should have no business at all with Mammon, we should have only damnation from the prayers of St Basil the Great for the Mammon.”

Lev Shestov’s reconciliation of evolution and creation theory.

“It looks like there are two theories, completely opposite, about the emergence of human species. One group affirms that man evolved from ape and the other that he was created by God. And they quarrel big time. I personally believe that they’re both wrong. My theory is this: those who believe that man evolved from an ape, did indeed evolve from an ape and belong to a distinct race, apart from the race of men created by God, who believe and know that they were created by God”

Trisagion in aramaic

Qaadishat aloho,                                Holy God
Qaadishat hylsono,                              Holy Mighty
Qaadishat lomoyooso,                            Holy Immortal

Desthlebdh halophain esrahamelain        Who was crucified for us

Another treasure

I found this website with the works of painter of Orthodox icons and mural painting restorer Elena Murariu and I hope that these heavenly images filled with light will lift up your heart as well:


No one could describe the Word of the Father; / but when He took flesh from you, O Theotokos, He accepted to be described, / and restored the fallen image to its former beauty. / We confess and proclaim our salvation in word and images.

Kontakion on Sunday of Orthodoxy.

Thoughts for each day of the year. Best preachers of Christ.

“So will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing”, promises the Lord through the prophet Zachariah (Zach, 8:13). But under what condition? Under the condition that every man will speak the truth to his neighbor, that men will righteously sort out their affairs amongst themselves, that men will not remember wrong in their hearts against their neighbor, that they will love no false oath, and will love truth and peace. If these conditions are met, says the Lord, “they shall be to Me a people, and I will be to them a God, in truth and in righteousness” (Zach, 8:8), and His blessing shall spread among them. Then all strangers shall hear and say “Let us go speedily to them to pray before the Lord, for we have heard that the Lord is with them (cf. Zach 8:21-23). “And many peoples and many nations shall come to seek earnestly the face of the Lord Almighty” (Zach 8:22)

Thus did the high moral purity of the first Christians attract people and nations to the Lord. Those who live always according to the spirit of Christ are, without the use of words, the best preachers of Christ and the most convincing apostles of Christianity.

St Theophan The Recluse.

Absurdity of women’s march

“Women do struggle with certain problems and certain forms of injustice. There’s nothing wrong with the women’s fight for their rights. This fight is not making me become caustically ironic. I also understand the folks who protest against Trump, he’s a rude and uneducated person, no doubt.

But this last march was about something else; I couldn’t escape a feeling of total surrealism

Trump can be rightly accused of being vulgar – but it’s a strange way to do so by demonstrating vulgarity far exceeding that of Trump.

That wasn’t the thing  that surprised me the most though. The march was, judging by the organizers and the participant’s posters, a pro-abortion one – and it’s the pro-abortion rhetoric that is causing such a surrealistic impression that if the marching participants would dress like reptiles and started walking on their tails, it wouldn’t make it any more grotesque.

And that’s what seems strange to me. Let’s say we agree to take away the rosary and remove theology. Let’s play according to your rules. Let’s admit that you’ve convinced me – religion is a tool of oppression and deception, there’s no God, or we can’t refer to Him in any case.

In other words, I am a highly developed primate, competing with other primates for resources and females. Intelligence and conscience are a secondary effect of millions of years of Evolution, and are not the goal. Within this paradigm Evolution as an impersonal process can’t have any goals anyhow. Setting goals is a characteristic of persons – but we already agreed to remove theology.

And all of a sudden a certain group of other primates is telling me that they have “demands”, that these “demands” are “just” and that I “have to” accept them. Primates, what are you talking about? Let’s say that it is in my best interest to be on good terms with other members of the tribe and even to become organized with other males of my species against other males. In that case it’s a different matter though. What I am being told is that I “have to”, that I have a moral obligation to behave in a certain way regardless of my interests. That this is what justice demands.

But we already agreed, that there’s no God – so where did you get the idea that I owe anything to anyone? Just because a certain group of primates from another tribe demands it from me? Well, there are many groups of primates with different demands, all of them want different things from me – so how did you arrive to the conclusion that I owe anything to you in particular.

What kind of “justice” are we talking about in a world ruled by spontaneous mutations and natural selection? What justice is there that Neanderthals became extinct? How about dinosaurs?

Biological processes (we’ll stay away from theology) cannot be “just” or “unjust”. They just happen. Someone eats while another one is eaten. Trump – in the process of accidental mutations of his forefathers – became more adjusted to a life in the city jungle, acquired more resources, got access to more attractive women. You don’t like his behavior? Well, I guess Neanderthals didn’t like when Cro-magnons were seizing their land either.

When one has certain moral demands or is shaming another one for indecent behaviour or is demanding decency – he appeals to a certain moral law, which all people should respect. In a worldview, where this law doesn’t exist, all these “we demand!”, “you have to!”, “this behavior is unworthy and scandalous!” – are nothing but a collection of nonsense sounds.

So, whenever you’re pointing to this, the discussion takes an even more absurd turn – “but it says in your Bible, that you have to love your neighbor!”

Well, we already agreed, that Bible is nothing but a collection of ancient myths used for patriarchal oppression. We removed, after insisting demands, theology far from biology. And biology, being a descriptive discipline, is not giving us any reason to treat all these “we demand, and you have to” seriously.

The demand not to mock the saints is absolutely nonsensical in a world without God – this is truly so. But it is also absolutely nonsensical to ask not to mock gay people in such a universe. No doubt, in a world without theology, moral convictions of Christians are illusory and their demands are unfounded. But in such a world the convictions and demands of liberals are just equally unfounded. Any type of statements that contain “you must” – whether they belong to religious or secular person– are completely lacking any foundation in a world where “there’s no good, nor bad, no goal, nothing but a blind and merciless indifferenece”

“The right to take away the life of a human being” is a logical absurdity. It is especially true when it comes to the “right to abortion”. It is not the right to do what you want with your own body. The body of  the child in a womb is the body of another human being. This is just a right to take away the life of an innocent human being  when it becomes inconvenient.”

Serghei Hudiev, http://www.pravmir.ru



Petre Tutea on stalinist re-education in Romania


“The decisive battles at the end of this millenium were not those fought on the battlefield. The human heart is the Armageddon of this aeon, and there too the final battle will take place. What is at stake in this confrontation is the divine spark within the human heart. This is where, until the end of time, the powers bent on fragmenting and enslaving the soul confront the heavenly powers which protect it in its struggle for perfection and freedom. This battle was fought in us throughout the years of imprisonment in the Soviet Gulag and thereafter in Romania. It was a battle for our souls, which our captors wanted to destroy and replace with a subhuman product: “the new man”, an automaton that would function in a world from which moral values had been eliminated.

The desperate effort to preserve our ontological identity, the image and likeness in which God made us, gave shape and substance to our resistance to these infernal forces bent on annexing our inner freedom… It was there that human dignity and even human holiness were revealed to us in all their transfiguring power… This is what we “confess”, this desperate and tragic battle to remain human beings to the very end”

The Church, a hospital for our souls

I had a very rare occasion to listen to Fr Iakovos of Simonopetra monastery and I thank God for that.  The video recording of both sessions is available in the Media section of this website, but for those who don’t have time I just wanted to share a story told by Fr Iakovos.

“We had a father at our monastery whose name was Kallistos and he ended up falling into the sin of greed. He always wanted more and always wanted also to be a wealthy individual so that if in fact something was going to happen to him he was going to be able to leave from the monastery and go out and do that which he had to do with the funds that he would collect, because he was working at the flour mill that we had and he would be getting paid for grinding of the wheat. He would take the money and he would turn it into gold coins. And he would take these gold coins and the people that were here they took the walk with me they saw the house that he lived in, the mill that he worked in. He would take these gold coins and he would store them in the ceiling of his house, so that it would be hidden far away from anybody. Only he knew about this. And one night in the winter when it was cold and he was grinding the flour, he had a fire going on in the fireplace and the chimney had a damage to it and the fire was leaking out from the chimney up in the attic. The attic caught on fire and he didn’t know that during the Turkish occupation on the Holy Mountain up in the attic there were crated of TNT. The whole roof blew itself off. The fathers came running up to see what happened. And here they see father Kallistos coming out all tattered but with nothing wrong with him even though the house have been destroyed. The roof collapsed. He came out and the abbott when he looked at him he said: tell me the sin that you have not confessed that our Lord has allowed you to live in order to say it. And he got on his knees and he confessed his sinfulness of greed and his desire to want more and how he collected gold pieces and was ready to go out in the world to live his licentious life. The abbott gave him his forgiveness and he pledged something which we have here: may your yes be yes and your no be no. He said: I will enter into the monastery and I will never leave from the door of that monastery until it comes time that I am going to brought out on my deathbed. He put away the thought of going out into the world and living a licentious life. And father Kallistos exactly did what he said he would do. And they brought him out on his deathbed and they buried him 23 years after this event. He never left the doors of the monastery. That’s a committed individual. And he had no need of a doctor, no need of a physician, nothing came wrong with him, why? – because he was living a life of perfection, living a life of commitment and our Lord was his comfort.”

Lest we forget

This is a quote from the book “The suicide of Europe” written by prince Michel Sturdza, former foreign minister of Romania who served in the diplomatic corps of his country for twenty-five years without any interruption other than for his tour of duty during WorldWar I, in which he fought first in a squadron of mounted artillery and then as chief of an armored car section, and for a period of service as prefect in Transylvania. During his career, he held posts in Durazzo (Albania), Athens, Bern, Budapest, Vienna, Washington (as Councillor and then Charge d’Affaires of the Rumanian Legation) ; he acted as Envoy Extraordinary and as Minister Plenipotentiary in Riga, Reval, Helsinki, and Copenhagen . His time abroad was interrupted several times by periods of service in the Foreign Office in Bucharest .

“Roosevelt and Churchill knowingly handed over, at Teheran and
Yalta, to the same Stalin and Molotov, and to the Kremlin gang of
murderers and tormentors, one hundred and twenty million Europeans .
They did this at the very time when, to their knowledge and with their
tacit approbation, the Kremlin was inaugurating a new cycle of slaughters
and massive deportations corresponding more than anything else in
modern times to the definition of “genocide .” At Teheran, when Stalin
asked Roosevelt’s consent to seize those doomed peoples, Roosevelt gave
it without any hesitation, asking him only to keep this agreement secret
until after the next presidential election in the United States .

When General Wladyslaw Sikorski, Prime Minister of the Polish Government-in-Exile, with indisputable proof in his hands, told Churchill that fifteen thousand Polish officers, the flower of Poland’s heroic youth, had been butchered in Katyn and in the Arctic, the British Prime Minister shrugged his shoulders and answered coldly : “If they are dead nothing you can do will bring them back .”‘ And on the same page of his
memoirs that he relates Stalin’s confession of the liquidation of ten
million peasants Churchill informs us that future generations will bless
the name of Stalin because they will have more to eat thanks to the
collective farm system? This not only indicates the imperturbable cynicism
of the man who has been called by some “the conscience of the
world,” but also his supreme ignorance of agricultural, economic, social,
and psychological matters . Furthermore, with the same astonishing amorality,
Churchill boasts of the way he proposed to share the countries of
Eastern Europe with Stalin, the mass-murderer :

The moment was apt for business, so I said, “Let us settle about our affairs
in the Balkans. Your armies are in Rumania and Bulgaria . We have
interests, missions, and agents there . Don’t let us get at cross-purposes in
small ways . So far as Britain and Russia are concerned, how would it do
for you to have ninety percent predominance in Rumania, for us to have
ninety percent of the say in Greece, and go fifty-fifty about Yugoslavia?”
While this was being translated I wrote out on a half-sheet of paper :
The others
Great Britain
(in accord with U.S.A.)
The others
I pushed this across to Stalin, who had by then heard the translation .
There was a slight pause . Then he took his blue pencil and made a large
tick upon it, and passed it back to us . It was all settled in no more time
than it takes to set down . . . .
After this there was a long silence . The pencilled paper lay in the centre
of the table . At length I said, “Might it not be thought rather cynical if it
seemed we had disposed of these issues, so fateful to millions of people, in
such an offhand manner? Let us burn the paper .” “No, you keep it,” said
Stalin .

President Truman, despite the fact that Japan had manifested the
desire two months earlier to lay down its weapons, wantonly ordered
that two atomic bombs be dropped on that country, killing or maiming
more than two hundred thousand innocent beings .4 For a long while
the story of the bombardment of Dresden, contrary to that of other
German cities, was tabu for chroniclers, historians, and newspaper people.
Credible accounts place the total number of dead at 250,000 . The
number of casualties might have been still greater-according to certain
reports-in a city crowded with refugees (there were up to one million
permanent and temporary inhabitants), without any air raid shelters,
which received in a few hours the full impact of 3250 heavy bombers . We
read in the London Times of February 16, 1945, only three days after the
Dresden air raid:
Dresden which had been pounded on Tuesday night by 800 of the 1,400
heavies sent out by the R .A.F. and was the main object of 1,350 Fortresses
and Liberators on the following day, yesterday received its third heavy attack
in thirty-six hours . It was the principal target for more than 1,100
United States 8th Army Air Force bombers .5
We will let F. J. P. Veale further describe for us this brilliant aerial
operation in his book Advance to Barbarism which everybody ought to
have read and which few dare to open :

The modern city of Dresden has grown up round the medieval town, now
known as the Altstadt, which lies at the southern end of the bridge crossing
the Elbe . In the eighteenth century Dresden became one of the great show
cities of the world through the construction of a number of magnificent
public buildings, all of which were erected in the Altstadt district of the
city. Within a radius of half a mile from the southern end of the Augustus
Bridge was built a unique group of palaces, art galleries, museums and
churches-the Schloss, containing the famous Griines Gewolbe with its
priceless art treasures ; the beautiful Briihl Terasse extending along the left
bank of the Elbe; the beautiful Catholic Cathedral, the domed Frauen
Kirche; the Opera House, the Johanneum Museum and, above all, the famous
Zwinger Museum containing one of the finest collections of pictures
in the world, including among its many treasures Raphael’s Sistine Madonna,
purchased by the Elector Augustus II, in 1745, for 20,000 ducats .
Within this small area, so well known to British and American travellers
on the continent, there were, and could be, no munition factories or, in fact,industries of any kind . The resident population of this district was small .
The main railway station of Dresden is situated a mile away to the South
and the railway bridge which carries the main line to Berlin is half a mile
down the river .This, then, was the target, and here are the details of this raid which
might well count as one of the most illustrious instances of what have
been called war crimes, and even of what has been called genocide .

On the morning of the fateful February 13, 1945, fast enemy reconnaissance
planes were observed flying over the city. The inhabitants of Dresden
had no experience with modern air warfare and the appearance of these
planes aroused curiosity rather than apprehension . Having been for so long
outside any theatre of war, the city lacked anti-aircraft defenses, and these
planes were able to observe in complete safety all that they desired . No
doubt, they observed and reported that all the roads through and around
Dresden were filled with dense throngs moving westward . . . . It was common
knowledge that a frantic orgy of murder, rape and arson was taking
place in those districts of Silesia which had been overrun by the Soviet
hordes. It should not have been difficult to deduce in these circumstances
that many people in districts threatened by the Russian advance would decide
to try to escape westwards .
Some hours after night had fallen, about 9 :30 p.m., the first wave of attacking
planes passed over Dresden. The focus of the attack was the Altstadt
. Terrific fires soon broke out which were still blazing when the second
wave of attackers arrived shortly after midnight . The resulting slaughter was
appalling, since the normal population of the city of some 600,000 had been
recently swollen by a multitude of refugees, mostly women and children,
their menfolk having remained behind to defend their homes . Every house
in Dresden was filled with these unfortunates, every public building was
crowded with them, many were camping in the streets . Estimates of their
number vary from 300,000 to 500,000. There were no air raid shelters of
any kind, unless we so regard the enormous cloud of stifling black smoke
which, after the first attack, covered the city and into which the second and
third waves of attackers dropped their bombs . Adding a unique touch to
the general horror, the wild animals in the zoological garden, rendered
frantic by the noise and glare, broke loose : it is said that these animals and
terrified groups of refugees were machine-gunned as they tried to escape
across the Grosser Garden by low-flying planes and that many bodies riddled
by bullets were found later in this part . . . .
The circumstances made it impossible for the authorities to undertake the
task of trying to identify the victims . So enormous were the number of bodies
that nothing could be done but to pile them on timber collected from
the ruins and there to burn them . In the Altmarkt one funeral pyre after
another disposed of 500 bodies, or parts of bodies, at a time . This gruesome
work went on for weeks .”