But now you’ve heard of two whole Germans who came to Rus’ for the Holy Spirit, although it certainly bloweth were it listeth. And both of them took on the very difficult form of Christian asceticism—foolishness for Christ—and achieve sainthood in it. Yes, two! But wait, there is a third.
The Ladder is not the Typikon; it has a different value. There are no prayer rules written there, no defined number of prostrations or amount of food to partake of. More important things are disclosed there, the effect of which is not revealed to the superficial gaze. In fact, the reading of such books is healing from blindness. And we ourselves, no matter how many years the Lord metes out to us, will never understand our inner life with such depth and clarity as did Abbot John of Mt. Sinai.
Friends and foes, our times, in my humble opinion, are the best times. They don’t pay us for Orthodoxy, but they don’t knock our teeth out for it either. What more could we want? After all, the churches are full—full with those who are not threatened for praying in a holy place, and, at the same time, who have nothing to gain from it. Is this not grace? Truly it is the best of times.
The Taboric light is not created, St. Gregory said, but it is the light and grace of God Himself, manifested so that those communing of this light would not die, but be sanctified. Christ was not so much transfigured, says the Church, as Christ transfigured the vision and senses of the disciples, that they would be able to see Christ, as He is. This contemplation is a foretaste of the future Kingdom
Basil, Gregory, and John are so often remembered together that it’s difficult to think of them separately. However, they, like Peter and Paul, are strikingly different in many respects. Elucidating these contrasts does not destroy, but, on the contrary, underscores the unity which they were given in the Holy Spirit and which has organically entered into the consciousness of the Church.
God is the highest, purest, and most undoubtable reality. I can doubt that you see me, or that I see you. Maybe we’re sleeping, perhaps it’s a dream. We can have doubts about this. But about whether God is a reality—it’s impossible to doubt. He is life, and truth, and the way, and He is reality, clouded for man because the devil played an evil trick on us—and we went along with this trick and called life that which is not life.
After several centuries people can get used to any mistake, or come to love any distortion. But objectively speaking, the nature of this distortion does not change. It only grows into the consciousness of those who are used to it. However, the threat it carries has not gone anywhere.
What do the differences between the two apostles, celebrated on the same, day tell us? They tell us that in the Church, everyone is different. And this difference is a true blessing, if there is oneness of faith and a unity of love. If for dictators “no one is irreplaceable,” then for God all are unique and all irreplaceable. The main thing is that there be common faith.
Our people, who have experienced not a motion picture but the real press of a totalitarian government, should have cultivated in themselves a certain feeling of fear in their bones, a kind of defensive reaction against attempts directed at fooling them, controlling their consciousness, at crawling into their souls with dirty boots on. Not in the least. Many still have memories of live, real surveillance, and some still have nightmares of authentic interrogations; meanwhile a television show, called by the name of an imaginary concentration camp, is shown on the screen.
The history of the Christian world is the history of dramatic interrelationships between God and His new people. The Lord chose and raised up a hitherto unknown people who were sitting in historical darkness. The Lord gave them Himself, and it was good for them, as long as He was their main wealth.