Archive for the ‘Discussioni sull’Ortodossia’ Category

GREAT IS THE LORD IN HIS SAINTS

August 6, 2018

Martyr Christina of Tyre

Troparion, in Tone IV

Thy ewe-lamb Christina crieth out to Thee with a loud voice, O Jesus:/ “I love Thee, O my Bridegroom,/ and, seeking Thee, I pass through many strug­gles:/ I am crucified and buried with Thee in Thy baptism,/ and suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee;/ I die for Thee that I might live with Thee./ As an unblemished sacrifice accept me,/ who sacrifice myself with love for Thee// By her supplications save Thou our souls, in that Thou art merciful.

2

Kontakion, Tone IV

Thou wast known to be a radiant dove with wings of gold,/ and didst soar aloft to the heights of heaven, O honored Christina./ Wherefore, we celebrate thy glorious festival,/ bowing down before the shrine of thy relics with faith,// from whence divine healing for souls and bodies poureth forth upon all in abundance.

Advertisements

HUMANIST ABSURDITY

July 29, 2018

fr seraphim rose

Absurdism is a profound symptom of the spiritual state of contemporary man, and if we know how to read it correctly we may learn much of that state. But this brings us to the most important of the initial difficulties to be disposed of before we can speak of the absurd. Can it be understood at all?

The absurd is, by its very nature, a subject that lends itself to careless or sophistic treatment; and such treatment has indeed been given it, not only by the artists who are carried away by it, but by the supposedly serious thinkers and critics who attempt to explain or justify it. In most of the works on contemporary “existentialism,” and in the apologies for modern art and drama, it would seem that intelligence has been totally abandoned, and critical standards are replaced by a vague “sympathy” or “involvement,” and by extra-logical if not illogical arguments that cite the “spirit of the age” or some vague “creative” impulse or an indeterminate “awareness”; but these are not arguments, they are at best rationalizations, at worst mere jargon. If we follow that path we may end with a greater “appreciation” of absurdist art, but hardly with any profounder understanding of it.

Absurdism, indeed, may not be understood at all in its own terms; for understanding is coherence, and that is the very opposite of absurdity. If we are to understand the absurd at all, it must be from a standpoint outside absurdity, a standpoint from which a word like “understanding” has a meaning; only thus may we cut through the intellectual fog within which absurdism conceals itself, discouraging coherent and rational attack by its own assault on reason and coherence. We must, in short, take a stand within a faith opposed to the absurdist faith and attack it in the name of a truth of which it denies the existence. In the end we shall find that absurdism, quite against its will, offers its own testimony to this faith and this truth which are — let us state at the outset — Christian.

The philosophy of the absurd is, indeed, nothing original in itself; it is entirely negation, and its character is determined, absolutely and entirely, by that which it attempts to negate. The absurd could not even be conceived except in relation to something considered not to be absurd; the fact that the world fails to make sense could occur only to men who have once believed, and have good reason to believe, that it does not make sense. Absurdism cannot be understood apart from its Christian origins.

Christianity is, supremely, coherence, for the Christian God has ordered everything in the universe, both with regard to everything else and with regard to Himself, Who is the beginning and end of all creation; and the Christian whose faith is genuine finds this divine coherence in every aspect of his life and thought. For the absurdist, everything falls apart, including his own philosophy, which can only be a short-lived phenomenon; for the Christian, everything holds together and is coherent, including those things which in themselves are incoherent. The incoherence of the absurd is, in the end, part of a larger coherence; if it were not, there would be little point in speaking of it at all.

The second of the initial difficulties in approaching the absurd concerns the precise manner of approach. It will not do — if we wish to understand it — to dismiss absurdism as mere error and self-contradiction; it is these, to be sure, but it is also much more. No competent thinker, surely, can be tempted to take seriously any absurdist claim to truth; no matter from which side one approaches it, absurdist philosophy is nothing but self-contradiction. To proclaim ultimate meaninglessness, one must believe that this phrase has a meaning, and thus one denies it in affirming it; to assert that “there is no truth,” one must believe in the truth of this statement, and so again affirm what one denies. Absurdist philosophy, it is clear, is not to be taken seriously as philosophy; all its objective statements must be reinterpreted imaginatively, and often subjectively. Absurdism, in fact — as we shall see — is not a product of the intellect at all, but of the will.

The philosophy of the absurd, while implicit in a large number of contemporary works of art, is fortunately quite explicit — if we know how to interpret it — in the writings of Nietzsche; for his nihilism is precisely the root from which the tree of absurdity has grown. In Nietzsche we may read the philosophy of the absurd; in his older contemporary Dostoevsky we may see described the sinister implications which Nietzsche, blind to the Christian truth which is the only remedy for the absurd view of life, failed to see. In these two writers, living at the dividing point between two worlds, when the world of coherence based on Christian truth was being shattered and the world of the absurd based on its denial was coming into being, we may find almost everything there is of importance to know about the absurd.

The absurdist revelation, after a long period of underground germination, bursts into the open in the two striking phrases of Nietzsche so often quoted: “God is dead” means simply, that faith in God is dead in the hearts of modern men; and “there is no truth” means that men have abandoned the truth revealed by God upon which all European thought and institutions once were based. They have abandoned it because they no longer find it credible. Both statements are indeed true of what has, since Nietzsche’s time, become the vast majority of those who were once Christian. It is true of the atheists and satanists who profess to be content or ecstatic at their own lack of faith and rejection of truth; it is equally true of the less pretentious multitudes in whom the sense of spiritual reality has simply evaporated, whether this event be expressed in indifference to spiritual reality, in that spiritual confusion and unrest so widespread today, or in any of the many forms of pseudo-religion that are but masks for indifference and confusion. And even over that ever-decreasing minority who still believe, inwardly as well as outwardly, for whom the other world is more real than this world — even over these the shadow of the “death of God” has fallen and made the world a different and a strange place.

Nietzsche, in the Will to Power, comments very succinctly on the meaning of nihilism: What does nihilism mean? That the highest values are losing their value. There is no goal. There is no answer to the question: “why?”

Everything, in short, has become questionable. The magnificent certainty we see in the Fathers and Saints of the Church, and in all true believers, that refers everything, whether in thought or life, back to God, seeing everything as beginning and ending in Him, everything as His will — this certainty and faith that once held society and the world and man himself together, are now gone, and the questions for which men once had learned to find the answers in God, now have — for most men — no answers.

There have been, of course, other forms of coherence than Christianity, and forms of incoherence other than modern nihilism and absurdity. In them human life makes sense, or fails to make sense, but only to a limited degree. Men who believe and follow, for example, the traditional Hindu or Chinese view of things, possess a measure of truth and of the peace that comes from truth — but not absolute truth, and not the “peace that passes all understanding” that proceeds only from absolute truth; and those who fall away from this relative truth and peace have lost something real, but they have not lost everything, as has the apostate Christian. Never has such disorder reigned in the heart of man and in the world today; but this is precisely because man has fallen away from a truth and a coherence that have been revealed in their fullness only in Christ.

Only the Christian God is at the same time all power and all love; only the Christian God, through His love has promised men immortality and, through His power to fulfill that promise, has prepared a Kingdom in which men will live in God as gods, having been raised from the dead. This is a God and His promise so incredible to the ordinary human understanding that, once having believed it, men who reject it can never believe anything else to be of any great value. A world from which such a God has been removed, a man in whom such a hope has been extinguished — are, indeed, in the eyes of those who have undergone such disillusionment, “absurd.”

“God is dead,” “there is no truth”: the two phrases have precisely the same meaning; they are alike a revelation of the absolute absurdity of a world whose center is no longer God, but — nothing. But just here at the very heart of absurdism, its dependence upon the Christianity it rejects is most apparent. One of the most difficult of Christian doctrines for the non-Christian and anti-Christian to understand and accept is that of the creatio ex nihilo: God’s creation of the world not out of Himself, not out of some pre-existent matter, but out of nothing.

Yet, without understanding it, the absurdist testifies to its reality by inverting and parodying it, by attempting in effect, a nihilization of creation, a return of the world to that very nothingness out of which God first called it.

This may be seen in the absurdist affirmation of a void at the center of things, and in the implication present in all absurdists to a greater or lesser degree, that it would be better if man and his world did not exist at all. But this attempt at nihilization, this affirmation of the Abyss, that lies at the very heart of absurdism, takes its most concrete form in the atmosphere that pervades absurdist works of art. In the art of those whom one might call commonplace atheists — men like Hemingway, Camus, and the vast numbers of artists whose insight does not go beyond the futility of the human situation as men imagine it today, and whose aspiration does not look beyond a kind of stoicism, a facing of the inevitable — in the art of such men the atmosphere of the void is communicated by boredom, by a despair that is yet tolerable, and in general by the feeling that “nothing ever happens.”

But there is a second, and more revealing, kind of absurdist art, which unites to the mood of futility an element of the unknown, a kind of eerie expectancy, the feeling that in an absurd world, where, generally, “nothing ever happens,” it is also true that “anything is possible.” In this art, reality becomes a nightmare and the world becomes an alien planet wherein men wander not so much in hopelessness as in perplexity, uncertain of where they are, of what they may find, of their own identity — of everything except the absence of God.

This is the strange world of Kafka, of the plays of Ionesco and — less strikingly — of Beckett, of a few avant-garde films like “Last Year at Marienbad,” of electronic and other “experimental” music, of surrealism in all the arts, and of the most recent painting and sculpture — and particularly that with a supposedly “religious” content — in which man is depicted as a subhuman or demonic creature emerging from some unknown depths. It was the world, too, of Hitler, whose reign was the most perfect political incarnation we have yet seen of the philosophy of the absurd.

This strange atmosphere is the “death of God” made tangible. It is significant that Nietzsche, in the very passage (in the Joyful Wisdom) where he first proclaims the “death of God” — a message he puts in the mouth of a madman — describes the very atmosphere of this absurdist art.

We have killed him (God), you and I! We are all his murderers! But how have we done it? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the whole horizon? What did we do when we loosened this earth from its sun? Whither does it now move? Whither do we move? Away from all suns? Do we not dash on unceasingly? Backwards, sideways, forwards, in all directions? Is there still an above and below? Do we not stray, as through infinite nothingness? Does not empty space breathe upon us? Has it not become colder? Does not night come on continually, darker and darker?

Such, in fact, is the landscape of the absurd, a landscape in which there is neither up nor down, right nor wrong, true nor false, because there is no longer any commonly accepted point of orientation.

Another, more immediately personal, expression of the absurdist revelation is contained in the despairing cry of Ivan Karamazov: “If there is no immortality, everything is permitted.” This, to some, may sound like a cry of liberation; but anyone who has thought deeply about death, or who has encountered, in his own experience, a concrete awareness of his own impending death, knows better that that. The absurdist, though he denies human immortality, at least recognizes that the question is a central one — something most humanists, with their endless evasions and rationalizations, fail to do. It is possible to be indifferent to this question only if one has no love for truth, or if one’s love for truth has been obscured by more deceptive and immediate things, whether pleasure, business, culture, worldly knowledge, or any of the other things the world is content to accept in place of truth. The whole meaning of human life depends on the truth — or falsity — of the doctrine of human immortality.

To the absurdist, the doctrine is false. And that is one the reasons why his universe is so strange: there is no hope in it, death is its highest god. Apologists for the absurd, like apologists for humanist stoicism, see nothing but “courage” in this view, the “courage” of men willing to live without the ultimate “consolation” of eternal life; and they look down on those who require the “reward” of Heaven to justify their conduct on earth. It is not necessary, so they think, to believe in Heaven and Hell in order to lead a “good life” in this world. And their argument is a persuasive one even to many who call themselves Christians and are yet quite ready to renounce eternal life for an “existential” view that believes only in the present moment.

Such an argument is the worst of self-deceptions, it is but another of the myriad masks behind which men hide the face of death; for if death were truly the end of men, no man could face the full terror of it. Dostoevsky was quite right in giving to human immortality such central importance in his own Christian world-view. If man is after all to end in nothingness, then in the deepest sense it does not matter what he does in this life, for then nothing he may do is of any ultimate consequence, and all talk of “living this life to the full” is empty and vain. It is absolutely true that if “there is no immortality”, the world is absurd and “everything is permitted” — which is to say, nothing is worth doing, the dust of death smothers every joy and prevents even tears, which would be futile; it would indeed be better if such a world did not exist. Nothing in the world — not love, not goodness, not sanctity — is of any value, or indeed even has any meaning, if man does not survive death. He who thinks to lead a “good life” that ends in death does not know the meaning of his words, they but caricature Christian goodness, which finds its fulfillment in eternity. Only if man is immortal, and only if the next world is as God has revealed it to His chosen people, Christians, is there any value or meaning to what man does in this life; for then every act of man is a seed of good or evil that sprouts, to be sure, in this life, but which is not reaped until the future life. Men who, on the other hand, believe that virtue begins and ends in this life are but one step from those who believe that there is no virtue at all; and this step—a fact of which our century bears eloquent witness — is all too easily taken, for it is, after all, a logical step.

Disillusionment, in a sense, is preferable to self-deception. It may, if taken as an end in itself, lead to suicide or madness; but it may also lead to an awakening. Europe for five centuries and more has been deceiving itself, trying to establish a reign of humanism, liberalism, and supposedly Christian values on the basis of an increasingly sceptical attitude toward Christian truth. Absurdism is the end of that road; it is the logical conclusion of the humanist attempt to soften and compromise Christian truth so as to accommodate new, modern, that is to say, worldly, values. Absurdism is the last proof that Christian truth is absolute and uncompromising, or else it is the same as no truth at all; and if there is no truth, if Christian truth is not to be understood literally and absolutely, if God is dead, if there is no immortality — then this world is all there is, and this world is absurd, this world is Hell.

The absurd view of life, then, does express a partial insight: it draws the conclusions of humanist and liberal thought to which well-meaning humanists themselves have been blind. Absurdism is no merely arbitrary irrationalism, but a part of the harvest European man has been sowing for centuries, by his compromise and betrayal of Christian truth.

It would be unwise, however, to exaggerate in this direction, as apologists for the absurd, and to see in absurdism and its parent nihilism signs of a turn or a return to hitherto neglected truths or to a more profound world-view. The absurdist, to be sure, is more realistic about the negative and evil side of life, as manifest both in the world and in man’s nature; but this is after all very little truth in comparison with the great errors absurdism shares with humanism. Both are equally far from the God in Whom alone the world makes sense; neither consequently has any notion of spiritual life or experience, which are nourished by God alone; both therefore are totally ignorant of the full dimensions of reality and of human experience; and both have thus a radically oversimplified view of the world and especially of human nature.

Humanism and absurdism, in fact, are not as far apart as one might have supposed; absurdism, in the end, is simply disillusioned but unrepentant humanism. It is, one might say, the last stage in the dialectical procession of humanism away from Christian truth, the stage in which humanism, merely by following its internal logic and drawing out the full implications of its original betrayal of Christian truth, arrives at its own negation and ends in a kind of humanist nightmare, a sub-humanism. The subhuman world of the absurdist, though it may at times seem eerie and bewildering, is after all the same one-dimensional world the humanist knows, only rendered “mysterious” by various tricks and self-deceptions; it is a parody of the true world, the world the Christian knows, the world that is truly mysterious because it contains heights and depths of which no absurdist, and surely no humanist, even dreams.

If, intellectually, humanism and absurdism are distinguished as principle and consequence, they are united in a deeper sense, for they share a single will, and that will is the annihilation of the Christian God and the order He has established in the world. These words will seem strange to anyone disposed to take a sympathetic view of the “plight” of contemporary man, and especially to those who listen to the arguments of absurdist apologetics which cite supposed scientific “discoveries” and the all-too-natural disillusionment that has come out of our century of war and revolution: arguments, in short, that rely on the “spirit of the age,” which seem to make any but a philosophy of absurdity next to impossible.

The universe, so this apology runs, has become meaningless, God has died, one knows not quite how or why, and all we can do now is to accept the fact and resign ourselves to it. But the more perceptive absurdists themselves know better. God has not merely died, said Nietzsche, rather men have murdered Him; and Ionesco, in an essay on Kafka, recognizes that “if man no longer has a guiding thread (i.e., in the labyrinth of life), it is because he no longer wanted to have one. Hence his feeling of guilt, of anxiety, of the absurdity of history.” A vague feeling of guilt is indeed, in many cases, the only remaining sign of man’s involvement in bringing about the condition in which he now finds himself. But man is involved, and all fatalism is only rationalization.

Modern science is quite innocent in this respect, for in itself it must be, not merely neutral, but actively hostile to any idea of ultimate absurdity, and those who exploit it for irrationalist ends are not thinking clearly. And as to the fatalism of those who believe that man must be a slave to the “spirit of the age,” it is disproved by the experience of every Christian worthy of the name — for the Christian life is nothing if it is not a struggle against the spirit of every age for the sake of eternity.

Absurdist fatalism is in the end the product, not of knowledge nor of any necessity, but of blind faith. The absurdist, of course, would rather not face too squarely the fact that his disillusionment is an act of faith, for faith is a factor that testifies against determinism. But there is something even deeper than faith which the absurdist has even more reason to avoid, and that is the will; for the direction of a man’s will is what chiefly determines his faith and the whole personal world-view built upon that faith. The Christian, who possesses a coherent doctrine of the nature of man and should have thereby a deep insight into human motives, can see the ultimate responsibility the absurdist prefers to deny in his disillusioned view of the world. The absurdist is not the passive “victim” of his age or its thought, but rather an active — though often confused — collaborator in the great undertaking of the enemies of God.

Absurdism is not primarily a phenomenon of the intellect, not simple atheism nor mere recognition of the fact of an absent God — these are its disguises and rationalizations; it is rather something of the will, an anti-theism (a term applied by Proudhon to his own program, and seen by de Lubac, in The Drama of Atheist Humanism, as a key to understanding other revolutionaries), a fight against God and the Divine order of things. No absurdist, to be sure, can be fully aware of this; he cannot and will not think clearly, he lives on self-delusion. No one (unless it be Satan himself, the first absurdist) can deny God and refuse his own truest happiness in full consciousness of the fact; but somewhere deep within every absurdist, far deeper than he himself usually wishes to look, lies the primordial refusal of God which has been responsible for all the phenomena of absurdism as well as for the incoherence that indeed lies at the very heart of this age.

If it is impossible not to sympathize with some at least of the artists of the absurd, seeing in them an agonized awareness and sincere depiction of a world that is trying to live without God, let us not for all that forget how thoroughly at one these  artists are with the world they depict; let us not lose sight of the fact that their art is so successful in striking a responsive chord in many precisely because they share the errors, the blindness and ignorance, and the perverted will of the age whose emptiness they depict. To transcend the absurdity of the contemporary world requires, unfortunately, a great deal more than even the best intentions, the most agonized suffering, and the greatest artistic “genius”. The way beyond the absurd lies in truth alone; and this is precisely what is lacking as much in the contemporary artist as in his world, it is what is actively rejected as definitely by the self-conscious absurdist as it is by those who live the absurd life without being aware of it.

To sum up, then, our diagnosis of absurdism: it is the life lived, and the view of life expressed, by those who can or will no longer see God as the beginning and end, and the ultimate meaning, of life; those who therefore do not believe His Revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ and do not accept the eternal Kingdom He has prepared for those who do believe and who live this faith; those who, ultimately, can hold no one responsible for their unbelief but themselves. But what is the cause of this disease? What, beyond all historical and psychological causes — which can never be more than relative and contributory — what is its real motivation, its spiritual cause? If absurdism is indeed a great evil, as we believe it to be, it cannot be chosen for its own sake; for evil has no positive existence, and it can only be chosen in the guise of a seeming good. If up to this point we have described the negative side of the philosophy of the absurd, its description of the disordered, disoriented world in which men find themselves today, it is time to turn to its positive side and discover in what it is that absurdists place their faith and hope.

For it is quite clear that absurdists are not happy about the absurdity of the universe; they believe in it, but they cannot reconcile themselves to it, and their art and thought are attempts, after all, to transcend it. As Ionesco has said (and here he speaks, probably, for all absurdists): “To attack absurdity is a way of stating the possibility of non-absurdity,” and he sees himself as engaged in “the constant search for an opening, a revelation.” Thus we return to the sense of expectancy we have already noted in certain absurdist works of art; it is but a reflection of the situation of our times, wherein men, disillusioned and desolate, yet hope in something unknown, uncertain, yet to be revealed, which will somehow restore meaning and purpose to life. Men cannot live without hope, even in the midst of despair, even when all cause for hope has been, supposedly, “disproved.”

But this is only to say that nothingness, the apparent center of the absurdist universe, is not the real heart of the disease, but only its most striking symptom. The real faith of absurdism is in something hoped for but not yet fully manifest, a “Godot” that is the always implicit but not yet defined subject of absurdist art, a mysterious something that, if understood, would give life some kind of meaning once more.

All this, if it seems vague in contemporary absurdist art, is quite clear in the works of the original “prophets” of the age of absurdity, Nietzsche and Dostoevsky. In them the revelation of absurdity has a corollary. “Dead are all the gods,” says Nietzsche’s Zarathustra: “Now do we desire the Superman to live.” And Nietzsche’s madman says, of the murder of God: “Is not the magnitude of this deed too great for us? Shall we not ourselves have to become gods, merely to seem worthy of it?” Kirillov, in Dostoevsky’s Possessed, knows that, “If there is no God, then I am god.”

Man’s first sin, and the ultimate cause of the miserable condition of man in all ages, was in following the temptation of the serpent in Paradise: “Ye shall be as gods.” What Nietzsche calls the Superman, and Dostoevsky the man-god, is in fact the same god of self with which the Devil then, and always, has tempted man; it is the only god, once the true God has been rejected, whom men can worship. Man’s freedom has been given him to choose between the true God and himself, between the true path to deification whereon the self is humbled and crucified in this life to be resurrected and exalted in God in eternity, and the false path of self-deification which promises exaltation in this life but ends in the Abyss.

These are the only two choices, ultimately, open to the freedom of man; and upon them have been founded the two Kingdoms, the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Man, which may be discriminated only by the eye of faith in this life, but which shall be separated in the future life as Heaven and Hell. It is clear to which of them modern civilization belongs, with its Promethean effort to build a Kingdom of earth in defiance of God; but what should be clear enough in earlier modern thinkers becomes absolutely explicit in Nietzsche. The old commandment of “Thou shalt,” says Zarathustra, has become outmoded; the new commandment is “I will”. And in Kirillov’s satanic logic, “The attribute of my godhead is self-will.” The new religion, the religion not yet fully revealed that will succeed the old religion of Christianity to which modern man thinks by now to have delivered the final blow — is supremely the religion of self-worship.

This is what absurdism — and all the vain experimentation of our day — is seeking. Absurdism is the stage at which the modern Promethean effort hesitates, entertains doubts, and has a faint foretaste of the satanic incoherence in which it cannot but end. But if the absurdist is less confident and more fearful than the humanist, he nonetheless shares the humanist faith that the modern path is the right path, and in spite of his doubt he retains the humanist hope — hope not in God and His Kingdom, but in man’s own Tower of Babel.

The modern attempt to establish a kingdom of self-worship reached one extreme in Hitler, who believed in a racial Superman; it reaches another extreme in Communism, whose Superman is the collectivity and whose self-love is disguised as altruism. But both Nazism and Communism are extreme forms — their phenomenal success proves it — of what everyone else today actually believes: everyone, that is, who does not stand explicitly and absolutely with Christ and His Truth.

For what is the meaning of the gigantic effort in which all nations have today joined to transform the face of the earth and conquer the universe, to bring about an entirely new order of things wherein man’s condition since his creation will be radically transformed and this earth, which since man’s fall has been and can be nothing but a place of sorrow and tears, is to become, supposedly, a place of happiness and joy, a veritable heaven on earth with the advent of a “new age”? What does this mean but that man, freed of the burden of a God in Whom he does not believe even when he professes Him with his lips, imagines himself to be God, master of his own destiny and creator of a “new earth,” expressing his faith in a “new religion” of his own devising wherein humility gives way to pride, prayer to worldly knowledge, mastery of the passions to mastery of the world, fasting to abundance and satiety, tears of repentance to worldly joy.

To this religion of the self absurdism points the way. This is not, to be sure, always its explicit intention, but it is its distinct implication. Absurdist art depicts a man imprisoned in his own self, unable to communicate with his fellow man or enter into any relationship with him that is not inhuman; there is no love in absurdist art, there is only hatred, violence, terror, and boredom — because in cutting himself off from God, absurdist man has cut himself off from his own humanity, the image of God. If such a man is awaiting a revelation that will put an end to absurdity, it is surely not the revelation that the Christians know; if there is one point on which all absurdists would agree, it is the absolute rejection of the Christian answer. Any revelation the absurdist, as absurdist, can accept must be “new.”

About Godot, in Beckett’s play, one character says, “I’m anxious to hear what he has to offer. Then we’ll take it or leave it.” In the Christian life everything is referred to Christ, the old self with its constant “I will” must be done away with and a new self, centered in Christ and His will, be born; but in the spiritual universe of “Godot,” everything revolves precisely about the old self, and even a new god must present himself as a kind of spiritual merchandise to be accepted or rejected by a self that will tolerate nothing that is not oriented to itself. Men today “wait for Godot” — who is, perhaps on one level, Antichrist — in the hope that he will bring appeasement of conscience and restore meaning and joy to self-worship, in the hope that is, that he will permit what God has forbidden and provide the ultimate apology for it. Nietzsche’s Superman is absurdist, modern man with his sense of guilt obliterated in a frenzy of enthusiasm generated by a false mysticism of the earth, a worship of this world.

Where will it all end? Nietzsche and the optimists of our day see the dawn of a new age, the beginning of “a higher history than any history hitherto.” Communist doctrine affirms this; but the Communist reorganization of the world will, in the end, prove to be no more than the systematized absurdity of a perfectly efficient machine that has no ultimate purpose.  Dostoevsky, who knew the true God, was more realistic. Kirillov, the maniacal counterpart of Zarathustra, had to kill himself to prove that he was God; Ivan Karamazov, who was tormented by the same ideas, ended in madness, as did Nietzsche himself; Shigalev (in The Possessed), who devised the first perfect social organization of mankind, found it necessary to deliver nine-tenths of mankind to absolute slavery so that one-tenth might enjoy absolute liberty — a plan that Nazi and Communist Supermen have put into practice. Madness, suicide, slavery, murder, and destruction are the ends of the presumptuous philosophy of the death of God and the advent of the Superman; and these are, indeed, prominent themes of absurdist art.

Many feel — with Ionesco — that only out of thorough exploration of the absurd condition in which man now finds himself, and of the new possibilities this has opened up for him, may a way be found beyond absurdity and nihilism into some new realm of coherence: this is the hope of absurdism and humanism, and it will become the hope of Communism when (and if) it enters its period of disillusionment. It is a false hope, but it is a hope that may, for all that, be fulfilled. For Satan is the ape of God, and once divine coherence has been shattered and men no longer hope for the absolute coherence God alone can give to human life, the counterfeit coherence that Satan is able to fabricate may come to seem quite attractive.

It is no accident that in our own day serious attention is being given once more by responsible and sober Christians dissatisfied alike with facile optimism and facile pessimism, to a doctrine that, in Western Europe at least, was almost forgotten for centuries under the influence of the philosophy of enlightenment and progress. (Cf. Josef Pieper, The End of Time; Heinrich Schlier, Principalities and Powers in the New Testament; and before them, Cardinal Newman.)

This is the doctrine, universally held by the Churches of the East and West, of Antichrist, that strange figure who appears at the end of time as a humanitarian world-ruler and seems to turn creation upside-down by making darkness seem light, evil good, slavery freedom, chaos order; he is the ultimate protagonist of the philosophy of the absurd, and the perfect embodiment of the man-god: for he will worship only himself, and will call himself God. This is no place, however, to do more than point out the existence of that doctrine, and to note its intimate connection with the Satanic incoherence of the philosophy of the absurd. But more important even than the historical culmination of absurdism, whether it be the actual reign of Antichrist or merely another of his predecessors, is its supra-historical end: and that is Hell.

For absurdism is, most profoundly, an eruption of Hell into our world; it is thus a warning of a reality men are all too anxious to avoid. But those who avoid it only find themselves the closer to it; our age, the first in Christian times to disbelieve entirely in Hell, itself more thoroughly than any other embodies the spirit of Hell.

Why do men disbelieve in Hell? It is because they do not believe in Heaven, i.e., because they do not believe in life, and in the God of life, because they find God’s creation absurd and wish that it did not exist. The Elder Zosima, in The Brothers Karamazov, speaks of one kind of such men.

There are some who remain proud and fierce even in hell… They have cursed themselves, cursing God and life… They cannot behold the living God without hatred, and they cry out that the God of life should be annihilated, that God should destroy Himself and His own creation. And they will burn in the fire of their own wrath forever and yearn for death and annihilation. But they will not attain to death…

Such men, of course, are extreme nihilists, but they differ in degree only, and not in kind, from those less violent souls who faintly curse this life and find it to be absurd, and even from those who call themselves Christians and do not desire the Kingdom of Heaven with all their hearts, but picture Heaven, if at all, as a shadowy realm of repose or sleep. Hell is the answer and the end of all who believe in death rather than life, in this world rather than in the next world, in themselves rather than in God: all those, in short, who in their deepest heart accept the philosophy of the absurd. For it is the great truth of Christianity — which Dostoevsky saw and Nietzsche did not see — that there is no annihilation, and there is no incoherence, all nihilism and absurdism are in vain.

The flames of Hell are the last and awful proof of this: every creature testifies, with or against his will, to the ultimate coherence of things. For this coherence is the love of God, and this love is found even in the flames of Hell; it is in fact the love of God itself which torments those who refuse it.

So it is too with absurdism; it is the negative side of a positive reality. There is, of course, an element of incoherence in our world, for in his fall from Paradise man brought the world with him; the philosophy of the absurd is not, therefore, founded upon a total lie, but upon a deceptive half-truth. But when Camus defines absurdity as the confrontation of man’s need for reason with the irrationality of the world, when he believes that man is an innocent victim and the world the guilty party, he, like all absurdists, has magnified a very partial insight into a totally distorted view of things, and in his blindness has arrived at the exact inversion of the truth. Absurdism, in the end, is an internal and not an external question; it is not the world that is irrational and incoherent, but man.

If, however, the absurdist is responsible for not seeing things as they are, and not even wishing to see things as they are, the Christian is yet more responsible for failing to give the example of a fully coherent life, a life in Christ. Christian compromise in thought and word and negligence in deed have opened the way to the triumph of the forces of the absurd, of Satan, of Antichrist. The present age of absurdity is the just reward of Christians who have failed to be Christians.

And the only remedy for absurdism lies at this, its source: we must again be Christians. Camus was quite right when he said, “We must choose between miracles and the absurd.” For in this respect Christianity and absurdism are equally opposed to Enlightenment rationalism and humanism, to the view that reality can be reduced to purely rational and human terms. We must indeed choose between the miraculous, the Christian view of things, whose center is God and whose end is the eternal Kingdom of Heaven, and the absurd, the Satanic view of things, whose center is the fallen self and whose end is Hell, in this life and in the life to come.

We must again be Christians. It is futile, in fact it is precisely absurd, to speak of reforming society, of changing the path of history, of emerging into an age beyond absurdity, if we have not Christ in our hearts; and if we do have Christ in our hearts, nothing else matters.

It is of course possible that there may be an age beyond absurdity; it is more likely, perhaps — and Christians must always be prepared for this eventuality — that there will not be, and that the age of absurdity is indeed the last age. It may be that the final testimony Christians may be able to give in this age will be the ultimate testimony, the blood of their martyrdom.

But this is cause for rejoicing and not for despair. For the hope of Christians is not in this world or in any of its kingdoms — that hope, indeed, is the ultimate absurdity; the hope of Christians is in the Kingdom of God which is not of this world.

Father Seraphim Rose

FOR THEIR PRAYERS, O LORD, FORGIVE US!

July 17, 2018

The third and final stage took place in Russia, the seat of the Christian Emperor. In 1917 the patient and meticulous infiltration in the highest ranks of the Empire by the demonocratic agents and means of corruption and their spiritual poison, initiated already at the time of Peter and Catherine, with the abolition of the Patriarchate and the harassment of monastic life, reached its apogee: the great majority of the Russian elites were by then conscious apostates (like 500 years before in Constantinople), with the rest being purely nominal Christians (the lukewarm), and they acted by consequence. They perjured and betrayed the Tsar, took him prisoner and, usurping the power, pursued the mythical chimera called democracy (an elegant way to define the rule of the mob(ster), getting as usual demonocracy. The judgement of the Lord was brought quickly upon those despicable perjurers and traitors of His Anointed and their fatherland.

Less than six months later, these pathetic nonentities were wiped out by the Bolsheviks, open worshipers of the beast (at least, they were honest), they were killed and exiled, meeting the fate of all the useful idiots of this world. All the playthings of the devil are expendable for their master. The Bolsheviks’ takeover was financed by Jewish money from New York, where the Demonocratic Empire had obtained its definitive weapon of mass control, the Federal Reserve, just four years before, and it was lead by Jews (up to 90-95% of Bolsheviks leaders at the beginning). Once they seized the power, they did set off the most horrendous Christians’ mass murder ever recorded, not even under Diocletian, desecrating and destroying hundreds of thousands churches and monasteries as a side dish. In general, in the time between the revolution and the outbreak of the second world war more than one third of all the inhabitants of the former Empire had been either murdered or starved to death or imprisoned or forced to emigrate. All was done for the freedom and prosperity of humanity, of course; all for justice and the pursuing of the earthly paradise of self-governing man. The sick and tragic laugh of a madman…..

A few months after their take over, they carried out an order directly from New York: the brutal assassination of the Imperial Family (the Tsar, his wife and their four children), in a clearly satanic ritual, and the destruction of their relics. After seventeen centuries, Christendom was no longer! He who did restrain the mystery of iniquity had been taken out of the way, and a stupefied humanity was to taste the outcome in the third and final act: the revolution against man!

And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

GREAT IS THE LORD IN HIS SAINTS

July 12, 2018

LETTERA   DI   SAN   PAOLO   AGLI   EBREI

Dio, che in tempi diversi ed in vari modi parlo’ nei tempi passati ai padri per mezzo dei profeti, ha in questi ultimi giorni parlato a noi tramite suo Figlio, che Egli ha fatto erede di ogni cosa, per mezzo del quale Egli anche fece i mondi; che essendo lo splendore della sua gloria, e l’immagine espressa della sua persona, e sostenendo tutte le cose con la parola del suo potere, quando Egli ebbe lui stesso purificato i nostri peccati, sedette alla destra della suprema Maesta’; essendo reso molto meglio degli angeli, poiche’ Egli ha ottenuto per eredita’ un nome piu’ eccellente dei loro.

Poiche’ a quale degli angeli ha Egli mai detto, Tu sei mio Figlio, questo giorno Io ti ho generato? E ancora, Io saro’ un Padre per lui, ed egli sara’ per me un Figlio? E ancora, quando Egli porta l’unigenito nel mondo, Egli dice, E che tutti gli angeli di Dio lo adorino.

E degli angeli Egli dice, Che fa dei suoi angeli spiriti, e dei suoi ministri una fiamma di fuoco. Ma al Figlio Egli dice, Il tuo trono, o Dio, e’ per sempre: uno scettro di giustizia e’ lo scettro del tuo regno. Tu hai amato cio’ che e’ giusto, e odiato l’iniquita’; pertanto Dio, proprio il tuo Dio, ti ha unto con olio di letizia al di sopra dei tuoi compagni.

E, Tu, Signore, in principio hai posto le fondamenta della terra; ed i cieli sono il lavoro delle tue mani: essi periranno, ma Tu rimani; ed essi diverrano vecchi come fa una veste; e come una veste Tu li ripiegherai, ed essi saranno cambiati: ma Tu sei lo stesso, ed i tuoi anni non falliranno.

Ma a quale degli angeli ha Egli mai detto, Siedi alla mia destra, fino a quando faro’ dei tuoi nemici il tuo sgabello? Non sono essi spiriti di provvidenza, inviati ad assistere coloro che saranno eredi della salvezza?

Pertanto noi dovremmo dare la piu’ seria attenzione alle cose che abbiamo udito, per evitare che in qualunque tempo dovessimo lasciarle sfuggire. Poiche’ se la parola parlata da angeli fu sicura, ed ogni trasgressione e disobbedienza ricevette la giusta ricompensa in pagamento; come noi scamperemo, se trascuriamo una salvezza cosi’ grande; che al principio comincio’ ad essere parlata dal Signore, e ci fu confermata da coloro che lo ascoltarono; Dio anche dando loro testimonianza, sia con segni e prodigi, e con vari miracoli, e doni dello Spirito Santo, secondo il Suo volere?

Poiche’ Egli non ha posto in soggezione agli angeli il mondo a venire, del quale noi parliamo. Ma uno in un certo posto testimonio’, dicendo, Cos’e’ l’uomo, che Tu sei memore di lui? O il figlio dell’uomo, che Tu lo visiti? Tu lo facesti un po’ inferiore agli angeli; tu lo incoronasti con gloria ed onore, e lo ponesti sopra le opere delle tue mani: Tu hai posto tutte le cose in soggezione ai suoi piedi. Poiche’ in quello che Egli ha posto tutto in soggezione sotto di lui, Egli non lascio’ niente che non fosse posto sotto di lui. Ma adesso noi ancora non vediamo tutte le cose sottoposte a lui.

Ma noi vediamo Gesu’, che fu fatto un po’ inferiore agli angeli per la sofferenza della morte, incoronato con gloria ed onore; che Egli per la grazia di Dio potesse provare la morte per ogni uomo. Poiche’ convenne a Lui, per il quale son tutte le cose, e per mezzo del quale son tutte le cose, nel portare molti figli nella gloria, di rendere il capitano della loro salvezza perfetto attraverso le sofferenze.

Poiche’ sia Colui che santifica e coloro che sono santificati sono tutti di Uno: per la qual cosa Egli non si vergogna di chiamarli confratelli, dicendo, Io dichiarero’ il Tuo nome ai miei confratelli, nel mezzo dell’assemblea cantero’ Io le Tue lodi. E ancora, Io porro’ la mia fiducia in Lui. E ancora, Guardate Me ed i bambini che Dio mi ha dato.

Per tanto allora che i bambini sono partecipi della carne e del sangue, anche Egli stesso allo stesso modo prese parte dello stesso; che attraverso la morte Egli potesse distruggere colui che aveva il potere della morte, e cioe’, il diavolo; e liberare coloro che attraverso la paura della morte furono per tutta la vita soggetti in schiavitu’. Poiche’ in verita’ Egli non prese su di se’ la natura degli angeli; ma prese su di se’ il seme di Abramo.

Per la qual ragione gli convenne di essere reso come i suoi confratelli, che Egli potesse essere un fedele e misericordioso alto sacerdote nelle cose che riguardano Dio, per riconciliare i peccati del popolo. Poiche’ in quello che Egli stesso ha sofferto venendo tentato, Egli e’ in grado di soccorrere coloro che vengono tentati.

Pertanto, santi confratelli, partecipi della chiamata divina, considerate l’Apostolo e l’Alto Sacerdote della nostra professione, Gesu’ Cristo; che fu fedele a Colui che lo designo’, come anche Mose’ fu fedele in tutta la sua casa. Poiche’ quest’Uomo fu ritenuto degno di maggior gloria che Mose’, in quanto colui che ha costruito la casa ha piu’ onore che la casa. Poiche’ ogni casa e’ costruita da qualche uomo, ma colui che costrui’ ogni cosa e’ Dio.

E Mose’ davvero fu fedele in tutta la sua casa, come un servo, per una testimonianza di quelle cose che dovevano essere parlate dopo; ma Cristo come un figlio sopra la sua propria casa; la cui casa siamo noi, se restiamo fermi nella confidenza e la gioia della speranza fino alla fine.

Perche’, come lo Spirito Santo disse, Oggi se udite la Sua voce, non indurite i vostri cuori, come nella provocazione, nei giorni di tentazione nel deserto: quando i vostri padri mi tentarono, mi misero alla prova, e videro le mie opere per quarant’anni. Percio’ fui addolorato con quella generazione, e dissi, Essi sono sempre in errore nei loro cuori; e non hanno conosciuto i miei modi. Cosi’ Io giurai nella mia ira, Essi non entreranno nel Mio riposo.

Fate attenzione, confratelli, per evitare che in qualcuno di voi vi sia un cuore malvagio di incredulita’, in separazione dal Dio vivente. Ma esortatevi l’un l’altro ogni giorno, mentre e’ chiamato Oggi; per evitare che qualcuno di voi sia indurito attraverso la finzione del peccato.

Poiche’ noi siamo resi partecipi di Cristo, se manteniamo il principio della nostra fiducia fermo fino alla fine; mentre viene detto, Oggi se voi udite la Sua voce, non indurite i vostri cuori, come nella provocazione. Poiche’ alcuni, quando ebbero udito, sfidarono: e pero’ non tutti quelli che vennero fuori dall’Egitto con Mose’.

Ma con chi fu Egli addolorato per quarant’anni? non fu con coloro che avevano peccato, le cui carcasse caddero nel deserto? Ed a chi giuro’ Egli che non sarebbero entrati nel Suo riposo, se non a quelli che non credettero? Percio’ noi vediamo che essi non potettero entrarvi a causa dell’incredulita’.

Che si tema quindi, per evitare che, venendoci lasciata una promessa di essere accolti nel Suo riposo, qualcuno di voi dovesse apparire di non esserne degno. Poiche’ a noi la parola fu predicata, proprio come a loro: ma la parola predicata non diede loro profitto, non essendo unita con la fede in coloro che la udirono.

Poiche’ noi che abbiamo creduto entriamo nel riposo, come Egli disse, Poiche’ Io ho giurato nella mia ira, se essi entreranno nel Mio riposo: sebbene le opere fossero completate sin dalla fondazione del mondo. Poiche’ Egli parlo’ in un certo posto del settimo giorno in questa maniera, E Dio riposo’ il settimo giorno da tutte le sue opere. Ed in questo posto ancora, Se essi entreranno nel Mio riposo. Si vede quindi che rimane che alcuni devono entrarvi, e coloro ai quali per primo fu predicato non vi entrarono a causa dell’incredulita’: ancora, Egli restrinse un certo giorno, dicendo in Davide, Oggi, dopo cosi’ tanto tempo; come e’ detto, Oggi se voi udirete la Sua voice, non indurite i vostri cuori.

Poiche’ se Joshua avesse dato loro il riposo, allora Egli non avrebbe parlato dopo di un altro giorno. Rimane quindi un riposo per il popolo di Dio. Poiche’ colui che e’ entrato nel Suo riposo, ha anche cessato dai suoi propri lavori, come Dio fece dai suoi.

Lavoriamo dunque per entrare in quel riposo, per evitare che alcun uomo cada nello stesso esempio di incredulita’. Poiche’ la parola di Dio e’ spedita, e potente, e piu’ affilata di qualsiasi spada a doppio taglio, penetrante fino a dividere in pezzi anima e spirito, ed i giunti e il midollo, ed ha discernimento dei pensieri e degli intenti del cuore. Neppure esiste alcuna creatura che non sia manifesta al Suo sguardo: ma ogni cosa e’ nuda ed aperta per gli occhi di Colui col quale abbiamo a che fare.

Vedendo allora che noi abbiamo un grande Alto Sacerdote, che e’ passato nei cieli, Gesu’ il Figlio di Dio, che noi si tenga ferma la nostra professione. Poiche’ noi non abbiamo un alto sacerdote che non puo’ essere toccato dal senso delle nostre infermita’; ma fu in ogni punto tentato come noi siamo, eppure senza peccato. Che noi si avanzi quindi con baldanza davanti al trono di grazia, che si possa ottenere misericordia e trovare grazia che aiuti nel tempo del bisogno.

Poiche’ ogni alto sacerdote preso dagli uomini e’ ordinato per gli uomini nelle cose che spettano a Dio, che egli possa offrire sia doni che sacrifici per i peccati: che possa avere compassione per il profano, e per coloro che sono fuori strada; per il fatto che anch’egli stesso e’ circondato da infermita’. E per tal ragione egli deve, come per il popolo, cosi’ anche per se stesso, fare offerte per i peccati. E nessun uomo prende quest’onore in se stesso, ma solo colui che e’ chiamato da Dio, come lo fu Aronne.

Cosi’ anche non Cristo glorifico’ se stesso per essere fatto alto sacerdote; ma Colui che gli disse, Tu sei mio Figlio, questo giorno Io ti ho generato. Come Egli disse anche in un altro posto, Tu sei un sacerdote per sempre secondo l’ordine di Melchisedec. Che nei giorni della sua carne, quando ebbe offerto preghiere e suppliche con ferventi grida e lacrime a Colui che era capace di salvarlo dalla morte, e fu udito in cio’ che temeva; sebbene egli fosse un Figlio, e pure apprese l’obbedienza dalle cose che sopporto’; ed essendo reso perfetto, Egli divenne l’autore dell’eterna salvezza in tutti coloro che lo obbediscono; chiamato da Dio alto sacerdote secondo l’ordine di Melchisedec.

Del quale noi abbiamo molte cose da dire, e dure da esprimere, vedendo che voi siete lenti a comprendere. Poiche’ quando e’ gia’ tempo che voi dovreste essere maestri, voi avete ancora bisogno che qualcuno vi insegni quali sono i principi fondamentali degli oracoli di Dio; e siete diventati tali che avete bisogno di latte, e non di cibo solido. Poiche’ chiunque che usi latte e’ inesperto nella parola di giustizia: perche’ egli e’ un infante. Ma il cibo solido e’ per coloro che sono nell’eta’ matura, proprio coloro che a ragione d’uso hanno esercitato i loro sensi nel discernimento  del bene e del male.

Pertanto lasciando i principi della dottrina del Messia, andiamo verso la perfezione, non ponendo di nuovo le fondamenta del pentimento per opere morte, e di fede verso Dio, della dottrina del battesimo, e dell’imposizione delle mani, e della resurrezione dei morti, e del giudizio eterno. E questo faremo, se Dio lo permette.

Poiche’ e’ impossibile per coloro che una volta erano illuminati, e hanno assaporato dei doni divini, e furono resi partecipi dello Spirito Santo, e hanno gustato la buona parola di Dio, ed i poteri del mondo a venire, se cadranno, rinnovarli ancora al pentimento; vedendo che essi crocifiggono a se stessi nuovamente il Figlio di Dio, e lo espongono apertamente alla vergogna. Poiche’ la terra che si nutre nella pioggia che spesso viene su di essa, e produce frutti adatti per coloro dai quali e’ preparata, riceve benedizioni da Dio: ma quella che accoglie spine e rovi e’ scartata, ed e’ vicina alla maledizione; il cui destino e’ di essere bruciata.

Ma, diletti, noi siamo persuasi di cose migliori da voi, e cose che accompagnano la salvezza, sebbene parliamo in questo modo. Poiche’ Dio non e’ ingiusto da dimenticare le vostre opere ed i lavori di amore, che voi avete mostrato verso il suo nome, in cio’ che voi avete provveduto ai santi, e vi provvedete. E noi desideriamo che ognuno di voi mostri la stessa diligenza alla piena sicurezza della speranza fino alla fine: che voi non siate indolenti, ma seguaci di coloro che attraverso fede e pazienza ereditano la promessa.

Perche’ quando Dio fece la promessa ad Abramo, poiche’ non poteva giurare su nessuno piu’ grande, Egli giuro’ su se stesso, dicendo, Sicuramente benedicendo Io ti benediro’, e moltiplicando Io ti moltiplichero’. E cosi’, dopo aver pazientemente sopportato, egli ottenne la promessa.

Poiche’ gli uomini davvero giurano sul piu’ grande: ed un giuramento a conferma e’ per loro la fine di ogni disputa. Laddove Dio, volendo mostrare piu’ copiosamente agli eredi della promessa l’immutabilita’ del suo consiglio, lo confermo’ con un giuramento: che da due cose immutabili, in quanto e’ impossibile che Dio menta, noi potessimo avere una forte consolazione, che siamo fuggiti per rifugio onde tener stretta la speranza che ci e’ posta davanti: la qual speranza noi abbiamo come un’ancora dell’anima, allo stesso tempo sicura e costante, e che penetra in cio’ che e’ oltre il velo; dove il precursore e’ entrato per noi, proprio Gesu’, fatto alto sacerdote per sempre secondo l’ordine di Melchisedec.

Poiche’ questo Melchisedec, re di Salem, sacerdote del Dio supremo, che incontro’ Abramo che tornava dall’eccidio dei re, e lo benedi’; al quale Abramo diede anche la decima parte di tutto; per interpretazione essendo innanzitutto Re di giustizia, e dopo quello anche Re di Salem, e cioe’, Re di pace; senza padre, senza madre, senza discendenza, non avendo ne’ inizio di giorni, ne’ fine di vita; ma reso come simile al Figlio di Dio, rimane un sacerdote in continuazione.

Ora considerate quanto grande fosse quest’uomo, al quale perfino il patriarca Abramo diede il decimo delle spoglie. E davvero coloro che sono i figli di Levi, che ricevono l’ufficio del sacerdozio, hanno un comandamento di prendere decime dal popolo secondo la legge, e cioe’, dai loro confratelli, sebbene essi vennnero fuori dai lombi di Abramo: ma egli la cui discendenza non e’ computata da loro ricevette decime da Abramo, e benedisse colui che aveva la promessa. E senza alcuna contraddizione il minore e’ benedetto dal migliore.

E qui uomini che muoiono ricevono decime; ma li’ egli le ricevette, del quale e’ testimoniato che egli vive. E come posso cosi’ dire, anche Levi, che riceve decime, pago’ decime in Abramo. Poiche’ egli era ancora nei lombi di suo padre, quando Melchisedec lo incontro’. Se dunque la perfezione fosse dal sacerdozio Levitico, (poiche’ sotto di esso il popolo ricevette la legge), quale bisogno ulteriore vi era che un altro sacerdote dovesse sorgere secondo l’ordine di Melchisedec, e non essere chiamato secondo l’ordine di Aronne? Perche’ venendo cambiato il sacerdozio, vi e’ necessariamente un cambiamento anche della legge.

Poiche’ colui del quale queste cose sono parlate appartiene ad un’altra tribu’, dalla quale nessun uomo diede servizio all’altare. Poiche’ e’ evidente che il nostro Signore sorse da Giuda; della qual tribu’ Mose’ non parlo’ per niente concernente il sacerdozio. Ed e’ ancora molto piu’ evidente: per quello che secondo la similitudine di Melchisedec sorge un altro sacerdote, che e’ fatto, non secondo la legge di un comandamento carnale, ma secondo il potere di una vita senza fine. Poiche’ Egli testimonia, Tu sei un sacerdote per sempre secondo l’ordine di Melchisedec.

Poiche’ vi e’ invero un annullamento del comandamento in vigore prima a causa della sua debolezza e mancanza di profitto. Poiche’ la legge non rese niente perfetto, ma l’apporto di una migliore speranza lo fece; per mezzo della quale noi ci avviciniamo a Dio. Ed in quanto che non senza un giuramento Egli fu fatto sacerdote (poiche’ quei sacerdoti venivano fatti senza un giuramento; ma questo con un giuramento da Colui che gli disse, Il Signore giuro’ e non si pentira’, Tu sei un sacerdote per sempre secondo l’ordine di Melchisedec): da cosi’ tanto fu Gesu’ reso una certezza di un migliore testamento.

Ed essi veramente furono molti sacerdoti, perche’ non gli fu permesso di continuare a ragione della morte: ma quest’uomo, poiche’ Egli continua per sempre, ha un sacerdozio immutabile. Per la qual ragione Egli e’ anche capace di salvare alla perfezione coloro che vengono a Dio tramite lui, vedendo che Egli vive per intercedere per loro. Poiche’ un tale alto sacerdote conveniva a noi, che e’ santo, incapace di far male, senza macchia, separato dai peccatori, e reso piu’ alto dei cieli; che non ha bisogno quotidianamente, come quegli alti sacerdoti, di offrire sacrifici, prima per i suoi propri peccati, e poi per quelli del popolo: poiche’ questo Egli lo fece una volta e per sempre, quando offri’ se stesso. Poiche’ la legge fa’ alti sacerdoti uomini che hanno infermita’; ma la parola del giuramento, che fu dopo la legge, ordina il Figlio, che e’ consacrato per sempre.

Ora delle cose di cui abbiamo parlato questo e’ il sunto: noi abbiamo un alto sacerdote siffatto, che e’ posto alla destra del trono della Maesta’ nei cieli; un ministro del santuario, e del vero tabernacolo, che il Signore eresse, e non l’uomo. Poiche’ ogni alto sacerdote e’ ordinato per offrire doni e sacrifici: pertanto e’ di necessita’ che anche quest’Uomo ha alquanto da offrire.

Poiche’ se fosse sulla terra, Egli non dovrebbe essere un sacerdote, vedendo che ci sono sacerdoti che offrono doni secondo la legge: che servono nell’esempio ed ombra delle cose divine, come Mose’ fu esortato da Dio quando stava per fare il tabernacolo: poiche’, Vedi, Egli disse, che tu faccia tutte le cose secondo il modello svelato a te sul monte.

Ma ora Egli ha ottenuto un ministero piu’ eccellente, per cosi’ tanto Egli e’ anche il mediatore di un patto migliore, che fu stabilito su promesse migliori. Poiche’ se quel primo accordo fosse stato perfetto, allora nessun posto dovrebbe essere stato cercato per il secondo. Poiche’ trovando difetto con loro, egli dice, Ecco, vengono i giorni, dice il Signore, quando Io faro’ un nuovo patto con la casa di Israele e la casa di Giuda: non secondo il patto che Io feci con i loro padri nel giorno quando li presi per mano per condurli fuori della terra di Egitto; perche’ essi non continuarono nel mio accordo, ed Io non ebbi considerazione per loro, dice il Signore.

Poiche’ questo e’ il patto che Io faro’ con la casa di Israele dopo quei giorni, dice il Signore; Io porro’ le mie leggi nella loro mente, e le scrivero’ nei loro cuori: ed Io saro’ per loro Dio, ed essi saranno per me un popolo. Ed essi non insegneranno, ogni uomo il suo vicino, ed ogni uomo il suo fratello, dicendo, Conosci il Signore: poiche’ tutti mi conosceranno, dall’ultimo al piu’ grande. Poiche’ Io saro’ misericordioso verso la loro ingiustizia, ed i loro peccati e le loro iniquita’ Io piu’ non ricordero’.

In cio’ che Egli dice, Un nuovo patto, Egli ha reso il primo usato. Ora cio’ che decade e diventa vecchio e’ pronto per svanire.

Allora davvero il primo patto aveva anche ordinanze di servizio divino, ed un santuario mondano. Poiche’ vi era un tabernacolo fatto; il primo, dove era il candeliere, ed il tavolo, ed il pane sacerdotale; che e’ chiamato il santuario. E dopo il secondo velo, il tabernacolo che e’ chiamato il Santissimo; che ha l’incensiere dorato, e l’arca del patto ricoperta tutta intorno con oro, dove vi era la pentola dorata che ebbe la manna, ed il bastone di Aronne che germoglio’, e le tavole del patto; e sopra di essa i cherubini della gloria ombreggianti il seggio propiziatorio; del quale adesso non possiamo parlare in dettaglio.

Ora quando queste cose erano cosi’ ordinate, i sacerdoti andavano sempre nel primo tabernacolo, adempiendo il servizio di Dio. Ma nel secondo andava solo l’alto sacerdote una volta ogni anno, non senza sangue, che egli offriva per se stesso, e per le colpe del popolo: questo denotando lo Spirito Santo, che la via per il Santissimo non era ancora resa manifesta, mentre che il primo tabernacolo ancora permaneva: che era figurativo per il tempo allora presente, nel quale erano offerti sia doni che sacrifici, che non potevano rendere perfetto colui che rendeva il servizio, per quanto riguarda la coscienza; che consistevano solo in cibi e bevande, e varie abluzioni, ed ordinanze carnali, su di loro imposte fino al tempo della riforma.

Ma essendo venuto Cristo alto sacerdote di buone cose a venire, per mezzo di un tabernacolo piu’ grande e perfetto, non fatto con le mani, che vuol dire, non di questa creazione; nemmeno per mezzo del sangue di capre e vitelli, ma del suo proprio sangue egli entro’ una volta nel luogo santo, avendo ottenuto una redenzione eterna per noi. Poiche’ se il sangue di tori e di capre, e le ceneri di una giovenca aspergente l’impuro, santificano per la purificazione della carne: quanto ancor di piu’ il sangue di Cristo, che attraverso lo Spirito eterno offri’ se stesso senza macchia a Dio, purifichera’ la vostra coscienza da opere morte per servire il Dio vivente?

E per questo motivo Egli e’ il mediatore del nuovo testamento, che per mezzo della morte, per la redenzione delle trasgressioni che furono sotto il primo testamento, coloro che son chiamati potessero ricevere la promessa dell’eredita’ eterna. Poiche’ ove vi e’ un testamento, ci deve di necessita’ anche essere la morte del testatore. Poiche’ un testamento e’ in vigore dopo che gli uomini sono morti: altrimenti non ha alcuna forza mentre il testatore vive.

Per la qual ragione neppure il primo testamento fu dedicato senza sangue. Poiche’ quando Mose’ ebbe parlato ogni precetto a tutto il popolo secondo la legge, egli prese il sangue di vitelli e di capre, con acqua, e lana scarlatta, ed issopo, ed asperse sia il libro, e tutto il popolo, dicendo, Questo e’ il sangue del testamento che Dio vi ha ingiunto. Inoltre egli asperse con sangue sia il tabernacolo, e tutti i recipienti del ministero. E quasi tutte le cose sono dalla legge purificate con sangue, e senza versamento di sangue non vi e’ remissione.

Era pertanto necessario che i modelli delle cose nei cieli dovessero essere purificate con questi; ma le cose divine stesse con sacrifici migliori che questi. Poiche’ Cristo non e’ entrato nei luoghi santi fatti con le mani, che sono figurativi di cio’ che e’ vero; ma nel Cielo stesso, per apparire ora nella presenza di Dio per noi: non che Egli debba sovente offrire ancora se stesso, come l’alto sacerdote entrava nel luogo santo ogni anno con sangue di altri; perche’ allora dovrebbe Egli aver sovente sofferto dalla fondazione del mondo: invece una sola volta adesso nella fine dei tempi e’ Egli apparso per disporre del peccato con il sacrificio di se stesso. E come e’ determinato per gli uomini di morire prima, ma dopo questo il giudizio: cosi’ Cristo fu una volta offerto per sopportare i peccati di molti; ed a coloro che lo cercano Egli apparira’ la seconda volta senza che vi sia peccato verso la salvezza.

Poiche’ avendo la legge un’ombra delle buone cose da venire, e non la vera immagine delle cose, con quei sacrifici che essi offrivano continuamente anno dopo anno mai poteva rendere perfetti quelli che vi si approcciavano. Perche’ allora non avrebbero essi cessato dall’essere offerti? per quello che gli adoratori una volta purificati non avrebbero piu’ dovuto avere coscienza dei peccati. Ma in quei sacrifici vi e’ ancora fatta rimembranza dei peccati ogni anno. Poiche’ non e’ possibile che il sangue di tori e di capre debbano togliere via i peccati.

Per la qual ragione quando Egli viene nel mondo, dice, Sacrifici ed offerte Tu non vorresti, ma hai preparato un corpo per me: in offerte bruciate e sacrifici per il peccato Tu non hai avuto piacere. Allora Io dissi, Ecco Io vengo (nel volume del Libro e’ scritto di me), per fare il Tuo volere, o Dio.

Quando Egli dice sopra, Sacrifici ed offerte e offerte bruciate e offerte per il peccato Tu non vorresti, neppure hai piacere in essi; che sono offerti per la legge; allora Io dissi, Ecco, Io vengo per fare il Tuo volere, o Dio; Egli porta via il primo, che possa stabilire il secondo. Per il qual volere noi siamo santificati attraverso l’offerta del corpo di Gesu’ Cristo una volta per tutte.

Ed ogni sacerdote sta in piedi quotidianamente servendo ed offrendo molte volte gli stessi sacrifici, che mai possono portar via i peccati: ma quest’Uomo, dopo che ebbe offerto un solo sacrificio per i peccati, sedette alla destra di Dio; da allora in poi aspettando fino a che i suoi nemici siano resi il suo sgabello. Poiche’ per mezzo di una sola offerta Egli ha perfezionato per sempre coloro che sono santificati.

Di che anche lo Spirito Santo ci e’ testimone: poiche’ dopo quello Egli aveva prima detto, Questo e’ il patto che Io faro’ con loro dopo quei giorni, dice il Signore, Io porro’ le mie leggi nei loro cuori, e nelle loro menti le scrivero’; ed i loro peccati e le loro iniquita’ non piu’ Io ricordero’. Ora dove vi e’ remissione di questi, non vi e’ piu’ offerta per il peccato.

Avendo pertanto, confratelli, audacia di entrare nel Santissimo per mezzo del sangue di Gesu’, con un modo nuovo e vivente, che Egli ha consacrato per noi, attraverso il velo, che e’ per cosi’ dire, la sua carne; e avendo un alto sacerdote sopra la casa di Dio; avviciniamoci con un cuore vero in piena sicurezza di fede, avendo asperso i nostri cuori da una cattiva coscienza, e lavato i nostri corpi con acqua pura. Manteniamo salda la professione della nostra fede senza vacillare; (poiche’ e’ degno di fede Colui che promise); e valutiamoci l’un l’altro per suscitarci all’amore ed alle buone opere: non abbandonando l’adunanza di noi stessi insieme, come e’ la maniera di alcuni; ma esortandoci l’un l’altro: e cosi’ tanto di piu’, in quanto voi vedete il Giorno avvicinarsi.

Poiche’ se noi pecchiamo volontariamente dopo che abbiamo ricevuto la conoscenza della verita’, li’ non rimane piu’ sacrificio per i peccati, ma una certa spaventosa aspettativa di giudizio e fiera indignazione, che divorera’ gli avversari. Colui che sdegnava la legge di Mose’ moriva senza misericordia sotto due o tre testimoni: di quanta piu’ dolorosa punizione, supponete voi, sara’ considerato degno colui che ha calpestato il Figlio di Dio, e ha ritenuto il sangue del patto, con il quale egli fu santificato, una cosa empia, e ha agito in dispetto dello Spirito di grazia? Poiche’ noi conosciamo Colui che ha detto, La vendetta appartiene a me, Io ripaghero’, dice il Signore. E ancora, Il Signore giudichera’ il suo popolo. E’ una cosa terrificante cadere nelle mani del Dio vivente.

Ma chiamate al ricordo i giorni passati, nei quali, dopo che foste illuminati, voi sopportaste una gran lotta di afflizioni; in parte, mentre foste resi uno spettacolo sia da rimproveri e da tormenti; ed in parte, mentre diveniste compagni di coloro che furono cosi’ abusati. Poiche’ voi aveste compassione di me nelle mie catene, e prendeste con gioia lo sciupo dei vostri beni, sapendo in voi stessi che avete in cielo migliori e durature sostanze.

Non gettate via dunque la vostra fiducia, che ha una grande ricompensa in premio. Poiche’ voi avete bisogno di pazienza, in modo che, avendo fatto il volere di Dio, possiate ricevere la promessa. Poiche’ ancora un poco, e Colui che deve venire verra’, e non indugera’. Ora il giusto vivra’ per fede: ma se qualsiasi uomo si ritira, la mia anima non si compiacera’ in lui. Ma noi non siamo di coloro che si ritraggono nella perdizione; ma di coloro che credono verso la salvezza dell’anima.

Ora la fede e’ la sostanza di cose sperate, l’evidenza di cose non viste. Poiche’ per essa gli anziani ottennero una buona testimonianza. Per mezzo della fede noi capiamo che i mondi furono incorniciati dalla Parola di Dio, cosi’ che le cose che son viste non furono fatte di cose che si manifestano.

Per fede Abele offri’ a Dio un sacrificio piu’ eccellente di Caino, per il quale egli ottenne testimonianza che egli era giusto, Dio dando testimonianza dei suoi doni: e da cio’ egli essendo morto ancora parla. Per fede Enoch fu tradotto che egli non dovesse vedere la morte; e non fu trovato, perche’ Dio lo aveva tradotto: poiche’ prima del suo trasferimento egli aveva questa testimonianza, che egli compiaceva Dio. Ma senza fede e’ impossibile compiacerlo: poiche’ colui che viene a Dio deve credere che Egli e’, e che Egli premia coloro che diligentemente lo cercano.

Per fede Noe’, essendo avvertito da Dio di cose ancora non viste, si mosse con timore, preparo’ un’arca per la salvezza della sua casa; per la quale egli condanno’ il mondo, e divenne erede della giustizia che e’ per fede.

Per fede Abramo, quando egli fu chiamato ad andare in un posto che doveva dopo ricevere come un’eredita’, obbedi’; e ando’, non sapendo dove andava. Per fede egli soggiorno’ nella terra della promessa, come in una terra straniera, dimorando in tende con Isacco e Giacobbe, gli eredi con lui della stessa promessa: poiche’ egli cercava una citta’ che abbia fondamenta, il cui costruttore e facitore sia Dio. Attraverso la fede anche Sara ricevette forza per concepire il seme, e fu sgravata di un bambino quando aveva passato l’eta’, perche’ ella giudico’ degno di fede Colui che aveva promesso.

Pertanto germogliarono li’ proprio da uno, ed egli tanto capace quanto un morto, cosi’ tanti in moltitudine come le stelle del cielo, ed innumerevoli come la sabbia che sta in riva al mare. Costoro tutti morirono in fede, non avendo ricevuto le promesse, ma avendole intraviste da lontano, e furono persuasi di esse, e le strinsero, e confessarono che essi erano stranieri e pellegrini sulla terra. Poiche’ coloro che dicono tali cose dichiarano apertamente che essi sono in cerca di una patria. E davvero, se essi fossero stati memori del paese dal quale erano usciti, potrebbero aver avuto l’opportunita’ di esservi ritornati. Ma ora essi cercano una patria migliore, e cioe’, una divina: dove Dio non si vergogna di essere chiamato loro Dio: poiche’ Egli ha preparato per loro una citta’.

Per fede Abramo, quando egli fu messo alla prova, offri’ Isacco: e colui che aveva ricevuto le promesse offri’ l’unigenito suo figlio, del quale fu detto, Che in Isacco il tuo seme sara’ chiamato: ritenendo che Dio fosse capace di rialzarlo, anche dai morti; da dove egli anche lo riebbe figurativamente.

Per fede Isacco benedisse Giacobbe ed Esau riguardo cose da venire. Per fede Giacobbe, quando era moribondo, benedisse entrambi i figli di Giuseppe; e rese il culto, appoggiandosi sulla cima del suo bastone. Per fede Giuseppe, quand’egli mori’, fece menzione della partenza dei figli di Israele; e diede comandi riguardo le sue ossa.

Per fede Mose’, quando fu nato, fu nascosto tre mesi dai suoi parenti, perche’ essi videro che egli era un figlio giusto; ed essi non furono spaventati dal comando del re. Per fede Mose’, quand’egli ebbe raggiunto l’eta’, rifiuto’ di essere chiamato il figlio della figlia del faraone; scegliendo piuttosto di soffrire afflizioni con il popolo di Dio, che godere i piaceri del peccato per una stagione; stimando la vergogna di Cristo piu’ grande dei tesori in Egitto: poiche’ egli ebbe rispetto verso la ricompensa del premio. Per fede egli abbandono’ l’Egitto, non temendo l’ira del re: poiche’ egli resistette, come vedendo Colui che non e’ visibile. Attraverso la fede egli mantenne la pasqua, e l’aspersione del sangue, per evitare che Colui che distrusse i primogeniti dovesse toccarli. Per fede essi passarono attraverso il mar Rosso come su terra asciutta: cosa che tentando di fare gli Egiziani furono affogati.

Per fede le mura di Gerico caddero, dopo che furono compassate per sette giorni. Per fede Rahab la prostituta non peri’ con quelli che non credevano, quand’ella ebbe ricevuto le spie in pace. E cosa diro’ in piu’? poiche’ il tempo non mi basterebbe per dire di Gideone, e di Barak, e di Sansone, e di Jefte; di Davide anche, e Samuele, e dei profeti: che per mezzo della fede soggiogarono regni, operarono giustizia, ottennero promesse, fermarono le fauci dei leoni, domarono la violenza del fuoco, scamparono il filo della spada, dalla debolezza furono resi forti, divennero valorosi in battaglia, misero in fuga le armate degli stranieri.

Le donne riebbero i loro morti rialzati di nuovo in vita: ed altri furono torturati, non accettando liberazione; ch’essi potessero ottenere una migliore risurrezione: ed altri ebbero prove di crudele derisione e flagellazione, si’, ed in piu’ di catene ed imprigionamenti: essi furono lapidati, furono segati a meta’, furono tentati, furono uccisi con la spada: essi vagabondarono intorno in pelli di capre e di pecore, essendo indigenti, afflitti, tormentati (dei quali il mondo non era degno): essi vagarono nei deserti, e nelle montagne, e nelle tane e caverne della terra.

E costoro tutti, avendo ottenuto una buona testimonianza attraverso la fede, non ricevettero la promessa: avendo Dio provveduto cose migliori per noi, ch’essi non dovessero essere resi perfetti senza di noi.

Per la qual ragione vedendo che noi anche siamo compassati con un cosi’ grande nugolio di testimoni, mettiamo da parte ogni pesantezza, ed il peccato che tanto facilmente ci assale, ed affrontiamo la competizione che ci e’ posta davanti, guardando a Gesu’, l’autore e perfezionatore della nostra fede, che per la gioia postagli davanti sopporto’ la croce, disprezzando la vergogna, ed e’ seduto alla destra del trono di Dio. Considerate lui che sopporto’ una tale contrapposizione di peccatori contro di lui, per evitare di essere fiacchi e vaghi nelle vostre menti.

Voi ancora non avete resistito fino al sangue, lottando contro il peccato. Ed avete dimenticato l’esortazione che parla a voi come a dei figli, Figlio mio, non sdegnare il castigo del Signore, e non sentirti mancare quando sei da Lui rimproverato: poiche’ il Signore castiga colui che ama, e punisce ogni figlio che accoglie. Se voi sopportate il castigo, Dio tratta con voi come con figli; poiche’ che figlio e’ colui che il padre non punisce? Ma se voi siete senza castigo, del quale tutti son partecipi, allora voi siete dei bastardi, e non figli.

Per di piu’ noi abbiamo avuto padri della nostra carne che ci hanno corretto, e noi demmo loro rispetto: non saremo noi molto meglio in soggezione al Padre degli spiriti, e vivremo? Poiche’ essi davvero per qualche giorno ci punirono secondo il loro proprio piacere; ma Egli per nostro profitto, che noi si possa essere partecipi della Sua santita’.

Ora nessun castigo al momento sembra essere piacevole, ma penoso: nonostante dopo esso guadagni il tranquillo frutto di giustizia a coloro che son da esso esercitati. Pertanto alzate le vostre mani che penzolano, e le deboli ginocchia; e rendete dritti i percorsi per i vostri piedi, per evitare che cio’ che e’ zoppo sia fatto uscire dalla strada; ma che sia piuttosto guarito.

Seguite la pace con tutti gli uomini, e la santita’, senza la quale nessun uomo vedra’ il Signore: analizzando con diligenza per evitare che qualcuno manchi della grazia di Dio; per evitare che qualsiasi radice di amarezza germogliando vi affligga, ed in tal modo molti siano contaminati; per evitare che vi sia qualche fornicatore, o persona profana, come Esau, che per un boccone di cibo vendette il suo diritto di nascita. Poiche’ voi sapete come dopo, quando avrebbe dovuto ereditare la benedizione, egli fu rifiutato: poiche’ egli non trovo’ posto di pentimento, sebbene egli lo cercasse attentamente con lacrime.

Poiche’ voi  non siete venuti al monte che poteva essere toccato, e che bruciava con fuoco, e neppure all’oscurita’, e tenebra, e tempesta, ed al suono di tromba, e la voce di parole; la qual voce coloro che la udirono supplicarono che la parola non fosse piu’ loro pronunciata; (poiche’ non potevano sopportare quello che era comandato, E se anche una bestia tocchi la montagna, essa sara’ lapidata, o trafitta con un dardo: e cosi’ terribile era la vista, che Mose’ disse, Io ho paura e tremo oltre misura): ma siete venuti al monte di Sion, e nella citta’ del Dio vivente, la Gerusalemme celeste, e ad una compagnia innumerevole di angeli, all’assemblea generale e chiesa dei primi nati, che stanno scritti in cielo, e a Dio il Giudice di tutti, ed agli spiriti di uomini giusti resi perfetti, ed a Gesu’ il mediatore del nuovo patto, ed al sangue dell’aspersione, che parla cose migliori di quello di Abele.

Fate attenzione a non rifiutare Colui che parla. Poiche’ se non scamparono coloro che rifiutarono cio’ che fu parlato sulla terra, molto di piu’ non scamperemo noi, se ci voltiamo via da Colui che parla dal cielo: la cui voce allora scosse la terra: ma ora Egli ha promesso, dicendo, E pure una volta ancora scuoto non solo la terra, ma anche il cielo.

E questa parola, E pure una volta ancora, significa la rimozione delle cose che sono scosse, come di cose che son fabbricate, che quelle cose che non possono essere scosse possano rimanere. In questo modo ricevendo noi un regno che non puo’ essere smosso, che noi si abbia grazia, con la quale si possa servire Dio in maniera accettabile con riverenza e timor divino: poiche’ il nostro Dio e’ un fuoco che consuma.

Lasciate che l’amore fraterno continui. Non siate dimentichi di ospitare stranieri: poiche’ in tal modo alcuni hanno ospitato angeli senza saperlo. Ricordatevi di coloro che sono in catene, come se foste incatenati con loro; e coloro che soffrono avversita’, come foste voi stessi anche nel corpo. Il matrimonio e’ onorabile in tutto, ed il suo letto incontaminato, ma Dio giudichera’ fornicatori e adulteri. La vostra conversazione sia senza avidita’; e siate contenti con quelle cose che avete: poiche’ Egli ha detto, Io non ti lascero’ mai, ne’ ti abbandonero’. In modo che noi si possa audacemente dire, Il Signore e’ il mio aiutante, ed io non temero’ cio’ che l’uomo mi fara’.

Ricordate coloro che hanno autorita’ su di voi, che vi hanno parlato la parola di Dio: la cui fede seguite, tenendo conto del fine del loro discorso. Gesu’ Cristo e’ lo stesso ieri, ed oggi, e per sempre. Non fatevi portare in giro con diverse e strane dottrine. Poiche’ e’ una buona cosa che il cuore sia stabilito con grazia; non con pietanze, che non hanno dato profitto a coloro che ivi sono stati occupati. Noi abbiamo un altare, del quale coloro che servono il tabernacolo non hanno diritto di mangiare.

Poiche’ i corpi di quelle bestie, il cui sangue e’ portato nel santuario dall’alto sacerdote per il peccato, sono bruciati fuori l’accampamento. Per la qual ragione anche Gesu’, ch’Egli potesse santificare il popolo con il suo proprio sangue, soffri’ fuori la porta. Andiamo dunque avanti verso di Lui fuori l’accampamento, sopportando il suo stesso disonore. Poiche’ qui noi non abbiamo una citta’ che stia, ma ne cerchiamo una da venire. Tramite Lui offriamo dunque il sacrificio di lode a Dio continuamente, e cioe’, il frutto delle nostre labbra rendendo grazie al Suo nome. Ma di far bene e condividere non dimenticate: poiche’ con tali sacrifici Dio e’ ben compiaciuto.

Obbedite coloro che hanno governo su di voi, e sottomettetevi: poiche’ essi vigilano per la vostra anima, come coloro che devono dare conto, che essi possano farlo con gioia, e non con dolore: poiche’ quello non e’ profittevole per voi. Pregate per noi: poiche’ noi confidiamo di avere una buona coscienza, in ogni cosa volendo vivere onestamente. Ma io vi scongiuro di preferenza di far questo, che io possa essere restituito a voi al piu’ presto.

Ora il Dio di pace, che riporto’ dai morti nostro Signore Gesu’, quel grande pastore di pecore, per mezzo del sangue del patto eterno, vi renda perfetti in ogni buona opera per fare il Suo volere, operando in voi cio’ che e’ ben piacevole al Suo sguardo, attraverso Gesu’ Cristo; al quale sia gloria in eterno. Amen.

E vi supplico, confratelli, tollerate la parola di esortazione: poiche’ io vi ho scritto una lettera in poche parole.

Sappiate che il nostro fratello Timoteo e’ posto in liberta’; con il quale, se egli viene in breve tempo, io vi vedro’. Salutate tutti coloro che hanno comando su di voi, e tutti i santi. Quelli d’Italia vi salutano. La grazia sia con voi. Amen.

THE NAKEDNESS OF HIS EMINENCE

June 29, 2018

by father John Whiteford

When St. Paul met with the presbyters in Ephesus for the last time, he left them with a warning:

“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).

The truth of this warning has been demonstrated throughout Church history. The most devastating heresies in the history of the Church have been those which have arisen from within the Church. The reason why this is so was well summed up by Cicero:

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.”

Of course the Church not only can, but always will, survive such traitors, because Christ has promised us this, but the damage done to souls by traitors from within is far greater than that done by foes from without for the reasons Cicero gives.

When the Bolsheviks were seeking to destroy the Russian Orthodox Church, they found a group of willing accomplices among its clergy, who supported communism, wanted to allow widowed priest to remarry, married priests to become bishops, the adoption of the new calendar, innovations in the services, and the acceptance of other novel teachings. This group formed the so called “Living Church.” The Bolsheviks did not create the Living Church out of thin air, they simply allowed renovationists from within the Church to establish their own version of “Orthodoxy,” as a means to undermine the real thing. For a time, it was even recognized as the legitimate ecclesiastical authority in Russia by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. However, the “Living Church” failed, because it was rejected by the faithful of the Russian Church, and when it became clear that it was no longer useful to the Soviets (since they had no real support), they were allowed to wither away, and finally disappear. But the damage done by the “Living Church” was very real and extensive.

Today, we see the beginnings of a new renovationist movement, and this group is so radical that it makes the “Living Church” look quite traditional by comparison. Among the ideas that they promote are the ordination of women as priestsecumenismmodernismliturgical innovations, and universalism. However, the most base part of their agenda is their promotion of relativism when it comes to Christian morality, and in particular, their promotion of the acceptance of homosexuality and transgenderism.

There are three online journals now which incessantly promote their renovationist agenda. “Public Orthodoxy,” “The Wheel,” and “Orthodoxy in Dialogue.” These journals have hardly attempted to camouflage their agenda, but they usually have tried to use enough weasel words to allow for some implausible deniability. Lately, however, they have become even more brazen.

The most recent issue of “The Wheel,” a journal whose general editor does not believe homosexuals need to remain celibate, and makes no secret of the fact, featured an introduction by no less than Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware). Since there are now several very thorough refutations of what he says, I won’t focus on it myself. I will only echo the disappointment expressed by many, as well as the appreciation for the many good things he has done in the past for the English speaking Orthodox world. I hope we discover that the real Metropolitan Kallistos has been kidnapped, and someone else is writing under his name, but the Metropolitan Kallistos of 10 years ago did not agree with the mealy-mouthed approach he takes now to homosexuality. The Orthodox Faith has not changed in the last 10 years, the only thing that has changed is that western culture has tipped on this question in favor of homosexuality. Whether his comments are due to the weakness of old age, or some other mitigating factor, God knows, and only God can judge his heart. However, we can and must discern whether his words are sound or not.

For the best articles answering Metropolitan Kallistos, see:

“Metropolitan Kallistos and The Wheel,” Fr. Lawrence Farley

“Ambiguity Serves No One: A Review of the Foreword by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) to the latest issue of The Wheel,” by Dr. Edith M. Humphrey

“Anatomy of a Foreword: Metr. Kallistos on Sexual Morality,” by Fr. John Cox.

What I would like to focus on in this article is the response of Sister Vassa to these articles, and then recent comments from Aristotle Papanikolaou of Fordham University, who has let the mask slip a bit more than most of these people have, thus far.

Sister Vassa Strikes Again

Sister Vassa herself has been the subject of controversy on the issue of homosexuality, but in a recent video, she defended at some length Metropolitan Kallistos’ recent article.

She argues that he is “just asking questions.” The problem is, he is just asking questions about matters that are not questionable. The Serpent just asked a question of Eve when he said: “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1). Entertaining that question didn’t work out so well.

She asks why we can’t just give people like Metropolitan Kallistos the benefit of the doubt. The problem is, you can’t give someone the benefit of the doubt where no doubt is left. If someone had suggested that they heard tell that Metropolitan Kallistos was arguing that a gay couple that was in a committed relationship ought to be given communion, and that their spiritual father should take a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to their relationship, I would have given His Eminence the benefit of the doubt that he actually would have said such a thing. However, I think it is rather unlikely that “The Wheel” published a forgery written under his name, and so we have to deal with what he said, and we have to judge whether what he said was right or wrong.

Sister Vassa repeatedly questioned the qualifications of those who have responded to Metropolitan Kallistos, by saying that they are “not the peers” of this great man. This of course all depends on what you mean by “peers.” As a scholar, Dr. Edith Humphrey is certainly a peer. But as a bishop, the bishops of the rest of the Church are certainly his peers, and every time they have spoken on this issue, they have spoken with clarity that directly contradicts the mealy-mouthed approach taken by the article in question. But even the laity have the right and obligation to challenge a bishop who is in error. I am sure few of the faithful in Constantinople were the intellectual peers of the bishops who returned from the false council of Florence, having made a shameful and heretical union with Rome, but they felt like peers enough, as members of the Body of Christ, to not only disapprove of their union, but to greet them with a shower of debris of various sorts, in order to make their opinions unmistakably known. The people of God are the guardians of piety, as the Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs of 1848 (in reply to Pope Pius the IX) states. It is therefore not only permissible, but obligatory for all of the faithful, and even more so for the clergy, to oppose these attempts to infect our Church with the same heresies that have wreaked such havoc in mainline Protestant Churches, and are in the process of doing the same in the Roman Catholic Church.

Sister Vassa suggests that those criticizing this article are guilty of the sin of Ham. Ham’s sin was to reveal his father’s nakedness when he was drunk. Had Noah run around naked for all to see, Ham would not have been wrong to have suggested his father ought not to have done so. The nakedness here is the error of this article. The article was not made public by those criticizing it. If anyone is guilty of the sin of Ham, it is perhaps the editors of “The Wheel” who published the article in the first place, and I am sure that all of the critics of this article would have been far happier had someone committed the article to the shred bin, and thus actually covered the nakedness of His Eminence.

And to defend the article in question, Sister Vassa had to equivocate on what is in dispute here. She said:

“Some people want to pretend that there aren’t questions… we have all the answers… Is that true? Is that true, that we are finished perfect works as human beings? Or do we still need a little bit of work? Do we still need to be developed? Of course we do. We are all God’s precious works in progress. And we grow in our faith. We grow not only as individuals, but hopefully as Church… right? Can we imagine that we as the Church in this world have nothing else left to learn? Can that be possible?”

The question is not whether any of us are perfect, nor is the question whether any of us as individuals have all the answers. The question here is whether the indisputably consistent teachings of the Church on this issue, found in both Scripture and Tradition, are correct or not, or whether we might today be in a position to revise such clear and consistent teachings — teaching that even heretics have not generally disputed in Church history.

Metropolitan Kallistos suggests that somehow if a gay couple is in a committed relationship, this is a mitigating factor. However, the man in Corinth who was in a sexual relationship with his step mother was also in a committed relationship… and yet this does not seem to be a mitigating factor for St. Paul, who said that this man was to be barred from the fellowship of the Church until he repented (1 Corinthians 5-6). Likewise, Herod was in a committed relationship with Herodias, his brother Philip’s ex-wife, and yet St. John the Baptists did not suggest that this was a mitigating factor in his sin either (Mark 6:14-29). And in both cases, the sin was far less of a violation of the natural order than that of homosexuality.

Aristotle Papanikolaou Let’s the Mask Slip Further

 

For those of you who might be confused by the abbreviations and the Twitterisms here, let me put his statements into clearer English:

“One more thing: the heart of the debate is on what can be talked about in Orthodoxy.  [Public Orthodoxy, the online Journal he helps run] simply asserts that everything except the dogmas (statements of faith, not morality–contra[ry to Rod Dreher], whose ‘Orthodox morality’ is ironically a modern neologism) is up for discussion.”

Is there any basis for separating Orthodox dogma and Christian morality? No. Let’s go back to the very first Council of the Church, the Council of the Apostles in Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 15. The question was to what extent ought gentiles be held to obey the Mosaic Law. On one side, there were those who argued that gentiles had to become Jews, and live according to all of the ceremonial and moral laws of Moses. However, the Apostles said that gentiles were to be held instead to the basic laws God gave to Noah for all of mankind (see Genesis 9:1-17), and to the Moral Law of God, particularly with regard to sexual morality. They wrote to the gentile converts:

“…it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well” (Acts 15:.28-29).

Some will object that Christians do not observe what the Apostles wrote with regard to eating the blood of animals, but while this is generally true of the heterodox, it is not true of the Orthodox (See “Stump the Priest: The Council of Jerusalem on the Blood of Animals“).

And when the text speaks of “fornication,” the word is porneia (πορνεία), which refers to any sex which is unlawful, and in the Jewish and Christian context, this means any sexual relations forbidden by the moral law of God, as expressed in the Scriptures, including homosexual sex (see The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume 6, ed. Gerhard Kittel (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1964-1976), p. 587-595) .

So is this decree of the Apostles, that all Christians must refrain from sexual immorality, dogma? Well the Scriptures say that this is exactly what it is. The Apostles obviously did not post their epistle to their website. The way this epistle was disseminated to gentile converts was by people like St. Paul himself. We are told in the chapter immediately following the record of the Council of Jerusalem that St. Paul and his companions delivered this epistle as they went on their next missionary journey:

“And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decrees, that were ordained by the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem” (Acts 16:4).

And what is the Greek text for “the decrees”?  “τα δογματα” ta dogmata (i.e. the dogmas).

How far does Aristotle Papanikolaou think anyone would have gotten with St. Paul or any of the other apostles, if they had suggested that the dogma forbidding sexual immorality was up for debate? I would think that they would have had little patience with such an argument.

We seem to be heading into a period of Church history in which we will be increasingly confronted by renovationists of this kind. We must stand firm, and we must, as the People of God, reject what they are trying to sell.

M Y     U P D A T E

Response to Giacomo Sanfilippo, a hypocrite and lover of the abomination.

As for Inga Leonova, from several people it’s possible to hear the contrary of what has been assured to father John: namely, that she is in fact a lesbian. In any case, that does not really change anything about the matter.

The matter is not the personal sin of Inga Leonova; the matter is her promotion of the abomination, her cursed attempt to insinuate in the Holy Church of Christ a practice condemned and despised in the Scripture and by EVERY SINGLE HOLY FATHER of the Church. A practice that is an open rebellion to God and the constitutional order of His Creation, so hateful that the holy Fathers condemned the practice of anal sex even in lawfully married couple, giving them a stricter penance too.

She should be excommunicated from the Communion of Christ, until she repents (just like all the justifiers of the abomination, like Giacomo Sanfilippo and Aristotle Papanikolaou and George Demacopoulos and their kind). Their priests and their bishops will receive the greater condemnation.

She is another confirmation of the divine inspiration in the commandment of St. Paul: women must keep silence in the Church

Here some useful information about Inga Leonova and the background of the Lavender Mafia inside the OCA, in which she moves doing her filthy works.

I repeat, Christians should avoid even sharing the air in the same room with people like them!

Regarding Metropolitan Kallistos, he has forfeited his dignity as a shepherd of the Church of Christ. No Christian is entitled to the convinctions he has endorsed and shamefully made public, go figure if a Metropolitan is. Timothy Ware will get back the respect due to a bishop when he will show respect to the Church and her Holy Tradition, in repentance.

HISTORY LECTURES

June 22, 2018

Orthodoxy   and   the   Kingdom   of   Satan

A   Solemn   Recapitulation

LA TEORIA DELL’EVOLUZIONE E’ COME LA CORAZZATA POTEMKIN

June 17, 2018

Essa e’ una cagata pazzesca, in qualsiasi salsa venga presentata.

Non vi e’ stata alcuna evoluzione dell’uomo. E men che meno dalle scimmie. Piuttosto vi e’ stata una regressione. L’uomo non discende dalla scimmia. L’uomo e’ diventato una scimmia!

Ridotto ad una bestia dagli adoratori della Bestia, egli adora l’immagine della Bestia.

E tale rimarra’, grazie anche a persone che riconoscono l’aberrazione di tale visione, come la persona qui intervistata, ma che nel loro orgoglio intelletuale e nella pavidita’ di fronte ad un’intimidazione sociale che essi stessi hanno interiorizzato, si rifiutano assolutamente di ritornare a Dio, che e’ l’unica cosa che possa spiegare la Sua immagine: l’Uomo!

In tal modo, essi si confinano in una mera antitesi alla tesi della Bestia, in una stanca dialettica che da secoli e secoli non puo’ fare altro che produrre la stessa sintesi, sia pur di volta in volta camuffata in una narrativa nuova di zecca, che nasconde sempre lo stesso padrone: il regno della Bestia.

E nel regno della Bestia, il dissenso puo’ anche essere tollerato (esso puo’ venir buono per la prossima antitesi, che verra’ sintetizzata da par suo da colui che e’ il padrone di ogni dialettica), purche’ non si nomini il nome di Dio, se non per deriderlo o bestemmiarlo.

E tutti i dissidenti e tutti i resistenti si adeguano di buon grado, nella vanita’ delle loro menti, consegnandosi al ben triste fato di contestare qualche stronzata qui e la’, purche’ il dogma fondamentale della separazione da Dio non venga toccato.

Oggi l’unico vero rivoluzionario e’ colui che confessa Dio in spirito e verita’. Il resto e’ composto da mandrie di piccoli borghesi, nelle mani dell’aristocrazia oscura.

THE RIGHTEOUS IN HADES?

June 14, 2018

Question: Batiushka, tell me how I can explain to a Muslim where the holy Old Testament prophets and righteous ones abode before the Resurrection of Christ—in paradise or in hades?

Answer: All Old Testament people, both righteous and sinful, before the redeeming sacrifice of Savior and His descent into hell (during his death on the Cross) were in Sheol (the underworld). The podvig of Jesus Christ, Who took upon himself all of people’s sins, destroyed the power of the devil over the human race. Having descended into hell, the Lord led the Old Testament righteous ones and those who responded to His preaching: For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God… (1 Pet. 3:18–20). The holy Old Testament prophets and righteous ones are now in the Kingdom of Heaven.

A SINNER

The answer provided by Batiushka is the standard orthodox answer to that question. It’s hardly possible to find a different answer to the fate of the saints of the Old Covenant in the people of the Church through all the centuries.

Yet, I am left wondering if we are not caught in vain conversation received by tradition from our fathers in this case (1 Pet 1, 18). The Scripture alone does not provide solid foundation for that answer.

If all Old Testament people, both righteous and sinful, before the redeeming sacrifice of Christ were in Hades, how is it that the Lord tells us that Lazarus was in Abraham’s bosom after his death, clearly intending a place of blessing, definitely separated from the place of torments where the miser rich man was after he died?

His redeeming sacrifice was not yet fulfilled when He teached us that parable….

Also, in his epistle St. Peter talks about the spirits who were held captive, but he does not say that ALL the spirits were captives; contrariwise, he refers to those spirit in prison as being disobedient…. the saints of the Old Covenant were not disobedient. Moreover, St. Peter seems to be speaking of mankind before the Flood.

By which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

Again…. when Moses came with Eliah (the Law and the Prophets) to bear witness to our Lord on mount Tabor, he did not come as a captive spirit, he came in the glory of the uncreated Light.

Indeed, how the seer of God (and of our genesis), who did shine of the uncreated Light while still in our sinful flesh, could be held captive in Hades after his death?

Again…. the holy Patriarch Jacob, who as a prince had power with God and with men, and did prevail (Gen 32, 28), was thereafter powerless as a captive in Hades?

Again…. all the holy Prophets who prophesied of the Grace that should come unto us with the Spirit of Christ which was in them (1 Pet 1, 11), were thereafter in a place and state of separation from God?

The Lord did not despise to be called Son of David. Did the holy king and prophet David bring such a honour into Hades thereafter?

It does not become a sinner to answer these questions, but questions they are, and I hope that men of God will provide us with an answer sooner or later. In my poor understanding, I fear that in giving that standard answer we are subordinating the Holy Spirit to the Incarnation of the Son, as if the Son before the Incarnation was not living and operating in the world.

Yet, we know that before Abraham was, He is!

SOLA SCRIPTURA?

June 9, 2018

You do not even have the real Scriptura!

“But I am far from putting reliance in your teachers, who refuse to admit that the interpretation made by the seventy elders who were with Ptolemy [king] of the Egyptians is a correct one; and they attempt to frame another. And I wish you to observe, that they have altogether taken away many Scriptures from the [Septuagint] translations effected by those seventy elders who were with Ptolemy, and by which this very man who was crucified is proved to have been set forth expressly as God, and man, and as being crucified, and as dying”

(~150 A.D., Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, Chapter LXXI)

GREAT IS THE LORD IN HIS SAINTS

June 3, 2018

ALL   THE   SAINTS   OF   GOD