Saturday, February 22, 2020

Greek Archbishop of America declares open Communion for non-Orthodox spouses

Archbishop Elpidophoros, the primate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, caused a stir yesterday at the opening of the 29th annual Leadership 100 Conference at the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

The Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Fund Incorporated is a corporation that supports the National Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in advancement of Orthodoxy and Hellenism.

As multiple participants in the conference are reporting, in front of dozens of participants, Abp. Elpidophoros declared that anyone who was married in the Orthodox Church can receive Communion in the Orthodox Church, regardless of whether they are Orthodox or not.

His statement came during the question and answer portion of his talk.

As the Orthodox Church firmly teaches that only baptized and chrismated members of the Church can commune, the Archbishop’s statement upset many people.

He previously addressed the issue of mixed marriages at the Archdiocesan Council meeting in October, hinting at what he openly declared yesterday. After noting that nearly 50% of all Orthodox Christians in America are converts, including 25% in the Greek Archdiocese, the Archbishop stated:

With this in mind, I would make this suggestion: instead of calling marriages with non-Orthodox spouses “mixed marriages,” might we not better refer to them as “miracle marriages?” For these marriages are the main road that ushers converts to the Faith. As the Apostle Paul says: How do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? (I Cor. 7:16).

While speaking above about marriage leading to spouses converting to holy Orthodoxy, Abp. Elpidophoros went on say:

Every faithful marriage is a miracle marriage—a miracle of God’s love and a Mystery to be celebrated with joy and embraced with thanksgiving. Whether or not the spouse joins the Church in a formal way through Chrismation, they are still 100% part of our community, and should be embraced as such. If we are to be a Church that truly serves and embraces our young people who live in a technologically advanced and pluralistic world, we must embrace the strangers in our midst—make them strangers no more, and embrace all the members of our community and our Country.

The Patriarchate of Constantinople previously made waves when it announced that it would allow priests whose wives died or abandoned them to enter into second marriages, thereby contradicting the long-standing canonical Tradition of the Church.

In October, the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Archdiocese in America announced that it was petitioning Constantinople to allow three clergymen to remarry.

Article updated to note that the statement came during the question and answer session.

Friday, February 21, 2020

A Christian must be courteous to all. ( St. Nektarios of Aegina )

A Christian must be courteous to all. His words and deeds should breathe with the grace of the Holy Spirit, which abides in his soul, so that in this way he might glorify the name of God. He who regulates all of his speech also regulates all of his actions. He who keeps watch over the words he is about to say, also keeps watch over the deeds he intends to do, and he never goes out of the bounds of good and benevolent conduct. 
The graceful speech of a Christian is characterized by delicateness and politeness. This fact, born of love, produces peace and joy. On the other hand, boorishness gives birth to hatred, enmity, affliction, competitiveness, disorder and wars.

St. Nektarios of Aegina

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Holy Mountain: a universal presence and a heavenward orientation ( Metropolitan of Nikolaos of Mesogaias and Lavreotikis )

Metropolitan Nikolaos of Mesogaias

The spiritual influence of Mount Athos is indisputable and certainly stems from the fact that many men have attained holiness through their secret ascetic struggles there. In recent years many pilgrims have found peace of mind and repose on the Mountain, together with spiritual guidance and support.

The higher one rises, scientists tell us, the weaker the force of gravity becomes, the less one feels the pull of the earth, the looser one’s connection with it becomes, the easier one can shrug off its pressures and demands, the lighter one becomes.

The closer, too, one feels to heaven, which, though so vague, is so real and so desirable. Although less tangible, it seems more real than the earth. The higher one rises, the clearer the air becomes, the sharper one’s hearing, the broader the horizon, the closer one draws to the truth, and the truth is more convincing than reality.

Of all the holy sites in the Orthodox world, Mount Athos is the place where for over a thousand years the monastic life has been lived in its most absolute form. The passing centuries may have stamped their ‘worldly’ influence on the Mountain; even there men may display their weaknesses or even passions, which is only natural, and modern ‘civilisation’ may have done its damage, but in an inexplicably mystical way the Mountain has retained its blessed character, the constant and unique evidence of its grace, its rare and singular spiritual strength, and its dynamic relationship in space and time with the Lord God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Its philosophy of life has not been jeopardised by wrong choices, has not been harmed by a bad process of modernisation, and has not been corrupted by the times or by men, whoever they may be. Its truth endures.

It is like a rock which problems like changing political influences, the immoderate use of technology, tourism, parochial views, inter-monastic feuds, rivalries and even hatred, and all kinds of hostile forces only succeed in briefly washing over or moistening the surface of, without in the least disturbing its inner core.

There is something that does indeed protect it. Perhaps it is its monastic diversity, perhaps it is its enduring quality, perhaps the naturalness of its monastic expression, perhaps its treasures, relics and splendour, perhaps the abaton1 and its administrative autonomy, perhaps its ecumenical character, perhaps the care and protection of the Mother of God, perhaps its special grace. Despite its theocratic character, after eleven centuries of glorious existence Byzantium fell. Athos, on the other hand, is now in its fourteenth century of life but it moves at the pace of the world to come and gives you the impression that it is a place which is ‘not of this world’ (John 18: 36), one whose relationship with time is like that of its surface with the air and whose ‘citizens dwell in heaven’ (Philippians 3: 20).

‘A rich mountain, a firm mountain’ (Psalms 68: 15)

With its slender connection with ephemeral and worldly things and its attention constantly focused on lofty matters of the soul, the Holy Mountain seems to embrace the whole of mankind and to possess a gaze that can see beyond the limits of time and reason. In geographical terms, the Mountain is situated in Greece but it does not belong to her.

Perhaps it is that part of Orthodox life which best emphasises the catholicity and universality of the Church. Its monasteries include a Russian, a Serbian and a Bulgarian foundation. There are two Romanian sketes2 and monks from distant countries and civilisations, such as Peru and Colombia. Within its geographical borders God is worshipped in numerous languages and a wide variety of cultures and traditions find expression here: there is a marvellous, well-balanced diversity. Nothing in all this obstructs the unity of faith, the catholicity of the Orthodox spirit, the universality of the Church’s witness.

On the contrary, all of this proves that the Word of God is not restricted by language or confined within borders, and is not stifled by different forms of cultural expression or perhaps even different religions. It is an interesting fact that only a third of the members of the ‘Friends of Mount Athos’ society in England are Orthodox. The number of non-Orthodox writers recording their admiration of Athos and their sense of its mystical power is increasing all the time. The Mountain moves all people.

Here space and time acquire another dimension and perspective. One’s relationship with earthly, ephemeral and perishable things is an entirely perfunctory one. Concepts like ‘money’, ‘property’, ‘wealth’, ‘investment’, ‘entertainment’, ‘competition’ and ‘interest’ completely lose their importance. Here only the most essential worldly concerns are allowed to occupy one’s thoughts. The soul opens itself up to heavenly things. Here the main focus of interest is eternity and God’s kingdom. The purpose of history is not to serve as an object of worship but to build the foundations of the present. The future is not seen as a way of relieving suppressed emotions but as a way of transforming the present. The whole of time is held within its embrace. Athos follows the Old Style Calendar knowing that it is wrong but without being bothered by the fact, believing that it is a system that works well for it. Even the Byzantine cycle of daily time, which is so cumbersome in practice, seems to have a good reason for existing here. The Mountain lives in its own time. It has escaped the most pressing demands and defeated the most powerful oppressors.

Time is not binding. Tradition is not restrictive. The liturgical rite is not a shackle. National identity and language do not count for everything. Education is not a privilege. There is no discrimination. Comparisons are avoided. The most important thing is being constantly in God’s presence and embracing the whole world.

‘I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?’ (Psalm 121: 1)

The first thing that can be said about Athos is that it is a mountain, and in a notional sense at that. It is a high point. It represents a life that consists of an uphill struggle, that can be enjoyed ‘in a state of spiritual exaltation’, that involves a ‘heart which contemplates the heavens’ and seeks the ‘one who dwells on high’, the Almighty. It is an interesting fact that in the Orthodox tradition there are four hagiographical allusions to mountains on which revelations took place.

On Mount Sinai Moses received the Ten Commandments, the expression of God’s will. Moses spoke with Him, heard His voice and saw Him from behind (Exodus, chapters 19 and 20).

On Mount Carmel the Prophet Elijah prayed and God heard his prayer and answered it. Elijah felt God’s presence and experienced the manifestations of His power (I Kings, chapters 18-20).

The Mount of Olives was the scene of the Lord’s ascension into heaven. Christ deified human flesh and ‘took sinful human nature upon himself and offered it up to God the Father’, thus revealing a glimpse of the glory and honour of human nature (Acts 1: 12).

Finally, on Mount Tabor the Lord revealed as much of His glory as could be borne by human nature and emanated His divine light (Matthew 17: 1-8).

The Mountain is a place where God reveals His commandments; it is a place for a practical way of life, a place where patience, humility and love prevail, a place where man can clothe himself in divine raiment. It is a place where ‘nature is constantly constrained and the senses ceaselessly imprisoned’, a place of extreme, unceasing and persistent askesis3 and submission.

It is a place of prayer and signs. Prayer is unceasing, and in the cases of many monks extensive and long-lasting. At sundown the ascetics begin their all-night vigil, the coenobites take over with nocturns, in the morning the Divine Liturgy is celebrated, and during the day the Hours are performed by the monks in the course of their duties or while in their cells; during the times of quiet and pious chatter the repetition of the divine meanings of the Jesus Prayer can be constantly heard on numerous lips. Tongues pray; the architecture of the churches underscores the intensity of the prayers; the daily routine, the long services, the hearts of the monks are all imbued with the sweet melody of prayer.

The Mountain reveals the extremity of human situations. It is moderate in its discreet character but also displays a divine extremeness – though without foolish extremes – in its absolute and uncompromising lifestyle and philosophy. The daily vigils, the absence of a comforting female presence (even in pictorial form), the customary obedience, the life devoid of personal choices emphasises the naturalness of the ‘supernatural’ state. The Mountain is a place where the majesty of human nature is displayed. It functions as a kind of training ground for achieving deification. ‘The angels’ ranks were awed by thy life in the flesh’, chants the Athonite world, in honour of its father, St. Athanasios of Athos. Human limits are pushed to their utmost. Here saints like Gregory Palamas become beholders of divinity. Saints like Maximos the Kafsokalyvitan cast off their earthly gravity and appear to fly. Saints like Nikodemos Hagioreites express their intelligence as light, while their knowledge assumes the character of revelation. Saints like our modern-day saints Païssios, Ephraim and Elder Joseph the Hesychast combine rigorous discipline in their lives with grace, like the old elders in our ascetic literature. Saints like Kosmas the Aetolian or Fathers Sophronios and Porphyrios, also from our own time, draw strength from Athos’s springs for a few years and then become lifelong reformers, preachers and theologians of worldwide renown.

But the Mountain is not only a place for man’s spiritual glory. On all of the four mountains mentioned earlier God’s presence is marked by the appearance of a cloud. On Mt. Sinai as a ‘dense cloud’ which Moses enters, sensing but not actually seeing the Lord (Exodus, chapters 16, 19 and 24). On Mt. Carmel the ‘cloud’ breaks the silence of the heavens and brings forth rain in a miraculous manner (I Kings 18: 44). On the Mount of Olives, the Mount of the Ascension, the Lord ‘was taken up into a cloud’ and carried off to Heaven (Acts 1: 9). Finally, on Mt. Tabor ‘a bright cloud overshadowed’ the disciples and the voice from the cloud saying ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased: listen to Him’ shows that God the Father was present there with them (Matthew 17: 5).

The Mountain lives within a cloud of God’s graces. Sacred relics emit a sweet fragrance, holy icons exude myrrh, events take an unexpected turn, expectations are exceeded, rare surprises occur, God works with a power greater than the force of natural laws and logic. You enter the cloud of Athos as a visitor and, like Moses, you discover the tablets with God’s commandments in your hands. You find it easier to observe them. You are surprised by the presence of the cloud and are startled by the ‘sign’ of God’s grace flowing down like rain. You are struck by the cloud’s mystical character and ‘fall on your face in great fear’, like the disciples on Mt. Tabor. You behold the cloud and hear the voice of God the Father within you. You sense its intangible divine majesty and ‘gaze up at heaven’ like the Apostles on the Mount of Olives and you ‘return’ with great mystical ‘joy’.

If the Mountain of God’s presence illuminates with its apocalyptic visions, the cloud of the divine mystery fills the heart with the humility of uncreated grace. On the Holy Mountain you experience miracles, you perceive holiness, you are illuminated by whatever you can see, you are nourished by whatever lies within your reach, you have the ‘same mind that was in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 2: 5).

A long time ago I was approached by a young student. Very hesitantly, but with the intensity of someone who is determined to find out something, he declared that, although he was an atheist and found it hard to believe, he very much wanted to find faith. He had tried and searched for years but all to no avail. He had talked with professors and educated people but his thirst for something serious was not satisfied. He heard about me and decided to share his existential need with me. He asked me for a scientific proof of God’s existence.

‘Do you know anything about integrals or differential equations?’ I asked him.

‘Unfortunately not,’ he replied, ‘I’m an Arts student.’

‘What a shame! I knew a proof like that,’ I said in a deliberate attempt to be funny.

He felt awkward and fell silent for a while.

‘Look,’ I said, ‘I’m sorry I teased you like that but God is not an equation or a mathematical proof. If He was, then all educated people would believe in Him. You know, there is a different way of approaching God. Have you ever been to Mount Athos? Have you ever met any ascetics?’

‘No, father, but I’m thinking of going. I’ve heard so much about it. If you tell me to, I’ll even go tomorrow. Do you know any well-educated person I could meet?’

‘Which would you prefer: a well-educated person who would confuse you, or a saint who might wake you up?’

‘I’d prefer a well-educated person. I’m afraid of saints.’

‘Faith is a matter of the heart. Try talking to a saint. What’s your name?’ I asked him.

‘Gabriel’, he replied.

I sent him to an ascetic. I told him how to get there and gave him the necessary instructions. We even drew a sketch-map.

‘You must go and ask the same thing,’ I said. ‘“I’m an atheist”, you must say, “and I want to believe. I want some proof of God’s existence”.’

‘I’m afraid, I’m too shy,’ he replied.

‘Why are you afraid and shy of the saint when you’re not afraid or shy of me?’ I asked him. ‘Just go and ask him the same thing.’

A few days later he went, and he found the ascetic talking with a young man in the yard of his cell. Opposite, four other young men sat waiting on some logs. Gabriel gingerly took his place amongst them. About ten minutes later the elder finished his discussion with the young man.

‘How are you, boys?’ he asked. ‘Have you had a loukoumi?4 Have you had a drop of water to drink?’

‘Yes, thank you, father,’ they replied with conventional worldly politeness.

‘Come here,’ he said to Gabriel, picking him out from the others. I’ll get some water and you take this box with the loukoumia. And come closer so that I can tell you a secret: it’s okay being an atheist, but to be an atheist and have an angel’s name, well… It’s the first time I’ve ever come across anything like that.’

Our friend almost fainted with shock at this sudden revelation. How did he know his name? Who had told him about his problem? And what did the elder want to say to him?

‘Father, can I have a brief word with you?’ he uttered in a faint voice.

‘Look, my son, the sun is going down: take the loukoumi, have a drink of water and go to the nearest monastery for the night.’

‘Father, I’d like to speak to you, if that’s possible.’

‘What is there for us to say, my child? Why have you come?’

‘On hearing this question I immediately felt a huge weight off my chest,’ he told me later. ‘My heart began to overflow with faith. My inner world began to glow. My questions began to be solved without any logical arguments, without any discussion, without any clear answers. All the “ifs”, “whys” and “maybes” were banished at a stroke, leaving only the “hows” and “whats”.’

What the knowledge of educated men was unable to give him he gained from the kind allusion of a saint, who had completed only four years at junior school. Saints are very discreet. They operate on you without an anaesthetic and there is no pain. They perform a transplant without cutting you open. They raise you to lofty heights without using the steps of earthly logic to get there. They plant faith in your heart without tiring your mind.

‘Inviolate and God-trodden mountain’

The Holy Mountain is a training school of the heart, a place of healing for the inner man. It raises you up to spiritual heights which cannot be reached even by the most modern balloon of worldly reasoning. Here Grace expresses truth in unexpected ways.

The basic question on the Mountain is not whether God exists. This question seems to have been decisively resolved a long time ago. Neither is it whether our God is better than other people’s gods. Here ‘our’ does not have a possessive sense – as in the phrase ‘God is mine’ – but the sense of a child selflessly wishing to join its father – ‘I am striving to become His’. All efforts are directed at partaking of God’s divine nature (2 Peter 1: 4), at making the most of our kinship with Him, at gaining a sense of His presence, of learning the benefits and ways of experiencing Him.

The Mountain’s value does not lie in its individual charismatic monks, however many or great they may be. Its majesty is concealed in the fact that it is a resting-place for God. Just as, for reasons that remain unknown to us, in some icons that depict exactly the same figure as others God works in different ways, and imparts a special grace to some that He does not give to others; just as amongst His twelve beloved disciples the Lord had a favourite; just as from amongst all His peoples he selected His ‘chosen people’; just as He performed the miracles that revealed His glory only in certain places like the Pools of Bethsaida and Siloam, so too does He select certain places in His creation to be special expressions of His grace. The Holy Mountain is the Mountain of God.

Paper presented at the Inter-Orthodox Theological Conference ‘Russia and Athos: A Thousand Years of Spiritual Unity’ held in Moscow, 1-4 October 2006.

All photographies: Copyright Fr. Constantine Prodan

Translator’s notes:

1 The regulation forbidding the entry of women to Mount Athos.

2 Skete (plural sketes): a small monastery.

3 Spiritual exercise or training.

4 A piece of Turkish delight, a traditional hospitality offering on Athos.

Of all the holy sites in the Orthodox world, Mount Athos is the place where for over a thousand years the monastic life has been lived in its most absolute form.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Fasting therapy and energy diets : Fasting of the new age

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth”.

(I Timothy 4:1-3)

The secret recipe of “New Age” philosophy is the reversal of Christian teachings and its false imitation. Within the frames of its “ecological” mask we are being taught vegetarianism (Vegan) as a salvaging nutrition method with soteriological implications.
Man, according to the “New Age Bible”, is a small God, capable to do anything, through knowledge offered to him by the “Great Teachers”. So he is capable of doing everything the teacher Jesus did, and more! The man of the “New Age” can self-heal from any disease, bodily or mental, as long as he follows the primordial laws of…fasting. By avoiding the consumption of food, the body will dedicate every amount of energy available to self-heal even from an incurable disease as cancer.
In the first phase of “Fasting Therapy”: “…we force our body, with positive thought and patient absence from any food, to bypass the stomach and seek the fat which is stored in each and every one of us, for such circumstances. We all posses it even the thinnest among us”*.
In the second phase: “Our wise body, will enter the “general cleaning” process, after consuming the main quantity of fat, it targets to other unnecessary things created by the chronic intoxication, or other un-harmonic manifestations such as, stains, moles freckles, lipomas, cysts, fibroids, benign or malignant tumors etc.
The detoxification of the body, through fasting, affects beneficially and successfully against: rheumatism, arthritis, asthma, uremia, stomach ailments, ulcer, chronic indigestion, conditions of the liver, intestinal disorders, heart disease, anemia, many forms of cancer, conditions of the blood, hormonic disorders, sexual incapability and sterility, stress, depression, mental illness even to its most severe form which is schizophrenia. According to them, there are also some indications that “Fasting Therapy” has beneficial results even against AIDS!”*.
Essential supplement to this “fasting therapy” is: “Daily exercise, fresh air, swimming, daily long baths, massage, protected exposure to the sun, and especially good mood, mental rest and the avoidance of negative emotions. Sexual intercourse must be replaced by tenderly caresses or mild lovemaking, without ejaculation for the men (!).*
Most important however is that: “once we enter this process, we realize the power of resistance and the self-healing mechanisms of our body. The admiration is converted into trust, and that’s the first step towards getting our lives in our hands! In our own strong hands that know how to sow, to reap, to create, but also how to caress…”*.
The prospect of this Self-Theosis through a nutritious technique is a fact, for the followers of the “Fasting Therapy” movement. Positive thought, avoiding negative emotions and sex without ejaculation, refer directly to Hinduistic methods of meditation and “Tantric Sex”. The separation of foods in good and bad, not only does not exist in the Church and has been condemned, but in The Holy Bible is described as teachings of demons (I Timothy 4:1-3).
The Christian is called to reach “Theosis” and not to evolve, through various techniques, the (imaginary) God inside him. Christian fasting is the mean by which the faithful will be released from the passions that deprive him the grasp of Paradise and not some self-healing method…Besides disease in Orthodoxy is evaluated positively towards the goal of “Theosis”.
The “Energy Diet” promises to put an end to food intolerance, with a simple test. This test: “Is based on the measurement, through electrodes, of the bioelectric condition of the various points of acupuncture, according to the “distribution of the 12 meridians of the body” which were discovered and described by the Chinese, and some extra points discovered by Dr. Reinhold Voll .
The purpose of this test is to assess the energetic and functional organs and tissues by measuring the points of acupuncture so that any damage and malfunction can be located through these points. The conductivity of an organ or a tissue is being measured, so that anomalies can be located in the specific parts that reflect on the function of the body.
The energy balance of the organism can present disorders and be affected by medicine, poisons, conservatives, viruses, bacteria, foods, electromagnetic waves etc. The body operates as a transmitter and receiver of various electromagnetic messages. The whole human body is a circuit of vibrations which is capable, if submitted to electromagnetic stimulation, to respond with an echo which corresponds to one of those waves. This particular wave is the one corresponding to the frequency of the circuit”. **
We observe the total absence of scientific terminology and an effort to present the occult technique of acupuncture behind a scientific mask. “For acupuncture, the key of diagnosis lies in the examination of the various nuances of the face as well as the hearts pulse. The acupuncturist must be well aware that the internal organs are projected in specific and predefined positions of the facial midline and, and that in the middle of this line respond the lungs, under that the heart, ever lower the liver and even lower the spleen. At both sides of the facial midline, the bowels are being projected, with each having its own specific position. The acupuncturist, according to them, can by examining the nuance of each organ predict not only the development but also the final outcome of the disease.
The examination of the pulse and the facial nuance, is related to the rules of the “five elements” (wood, fire, earth, metal, water) of the “four seasons” (autumn, winter, spring, summer), of the “eight winds” and the “six pairs” of the “twelve meridians”.
Mans disease, according to them, originates from the imbalance of the “five energies”, and it gets deteriorated if the energy of the sky is not to his favor. These, they say, are “the most hidden secrets of mans destiny”. The most favorable moment to observe the sky’s energy status, in order to perform a correct diagnosis, is during dawn…of New Year’s Day. The five energies of the sky, good or bad, enter man “through the nose” and remain in the heart and the lungs, from where they spread their effect on the body, as the acupuncturists believe.
It’s not easy of course to make a minimum reference on the various diagnoses, and based on which facts they were established, so that they could be the foundation of acupuncture, which can cure, according to them, almost anything!
It still worth mentioning though, on how acupuncture was spread in China starting from the “mythological era”.***
Where is “Energy Diet” based on? The theory of the “Energy Diet” “…is based on the season of the birth, which gives us the biochemical composition of the organism, based on climatological conditions…So people depending on the season of their birth, have a unique chemical composition. Each of us is different”.**
“Energy Diet” is the application of the occult principles of Acupuncture, Alchemy and Astrology for the creation of the “Super Human” through the selective use of certain foods. Besides according to this methods slogan: "What is food to one, is to others bitter poison" (Titus Lucretius 75 B.C.).**
The “Holy Bible” says: “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them” (Hebrews 13:9).
The teaching of the “New Age” wants us autonomous and entirely cut off from our Lords grace. It wants us to believe with all our soul (positive thought) not to Jesus Christ, but the small “God” hidden inside us, who can come forward by using various techniques. For that reason disease is evaluated negatively and it relies on our own will and the use of various techniques to self-heal. The people of the “New Age” don’t need salvation, don’t need a Savior. The “New Age” can teach them how to be salvaged on their own…

May God Have Mercy.


Thursday, February 6, 2020

Cremation (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich (Written in 1956)

You ask me, why is the Orthodox Church against cremation. First of all, because it considers it violent. The Serbs still shudder with the crime of Sinan Pasha, who burned the dead body of St. Sava in Vratsa.

Do people burn dead horses, dogs, cats and monkeys? I have not heard of this. I have heard of and seen them buried. Why should the dead bodies of people who are the lords of all animals on earth endure violence? Would it not be in all respects much more reasonable to incinerate dead animals, especially in big cities, than people?

Second, because this pagan and barbaric habit disappeared from Europe thanks to Christian civilization two thousand years ago. Anyone who wants to reinstate it doesn't do anything else, neither civilized nor modern nor new, but something ancient which has long expired.

In England, which one can hardly call uncivilized, this form of Neopaganism is very much hated by the people. To tell you a case: during the years of World War II a famous Yugoslav lost his mind. When asked before he died, he said his only desire was to have his body burned.

In our day, our little Yugoslavian community was reduced in the incinerator of Golders Green. When the dead bodies entered the burning furnace we began to tremble with horror. Then they shouted to us on the opposite side of the furnace, "wait a quarter of an hour to see your compatriot in the form of ashes". We waited over an hour and were mystified why the fire struggled with the dead body, and we asked the stoker about this. He apologized saying the furnace was cold, "it is not heated every day, since rarely do volunteers get handed over to the fire". Listening to this we were dissolved, unable to wait at the edge for our compatriot. And we know that in London over a thousand human beings die every day.

I am in America, I saw the graves of the great Presidents Wilson, Roosevelt, Lincoln and many other important persons. None of them are cremated. Now this surprised me, that among the descendants of Saint Sava there could be found those who are like-minded with Sinan Pasha!

But why create an issue that has already been solved? If we want to be loaded with unnecessary worries, then someday we could be troubled by the question on whether to kill our decrepit men and women as do some primitive tribes? And we will create clubs to propagate this "idea"!

Finally, what sense is there in fighting the cemeteries, particularly in this country where the cemetery serves as a national pride, as a source of inspiration, and if you will as the book of the state?

Peace to you and health from God.

St. Nikolai Velimirovich