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Book review: Letters to Saint Olympia, by Saint John Chrysostom

Letters to Saint Olympia

Letters to Saint Olympia,
by Saint John Chrysostom
Written between 404-407
Translated by David C. Ford
Published on 2/1/2017
by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press
172 pages
Goodreads

orthodox-cross

Saint John Chrysostom wrote these 17 letters during his very last exile. They are addressed to Olympia, a widow who embraced a life of asceticism and was ordained a deaconess.  She was very instrumental in her local church, but having to face many pressures, and feeling the pain of John’s exile, she suffered from a disease which we often think to be proper to our modern times.

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Book Notes: Modern Orthodox Thinkers, chapters 20-21

 

Modern Orthodox Thinkers

These are the last chapters of the book.

Chapter 20 is on Father Alexandr Men’

Books:

  • The Son of Man
  • An Inner Step Towards God: Writings and Teachings on Prayer by Father Alexander Men

“To sum up the essential thesis of Christian eschatology: we must live as if the Last Judgment was going to happen tomorrow and work as if we had eternity before us. We must not put off to later the work of our salvation: ‘ Watch and Pray’, the Gospel teaches us. We must not go too far too fast, nor try to impose our will on the Savior. Let us do His will with joy and patience.”
= from a book by Fr Alexander translated into French, quoted here page 331.

Chapter 21 is on Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

Book: The Inner Unity of the Philokalia and its Influence in East and West (2004)

The present crisis is not really outside us, a crisis in our physical surroundings, but it is a crisis within us, a crisis in the way we humans think and feel. The fundamental problem lies not in the ecosystem, but in the human heart. It has rightly been said that we are suffering from ecological heart failure.
= from his book Ecological Crisis, Ecological Hope, quoted here page 346

Human misuse of the created order is a sin – sin is not to be limited to human relationships – and calls for what Bishop Kallistos calls ‘ cosmic repentance’, cosmic metanoia, no mere expression of regret, entailing a radical turnabout in our ways of life…

Bishop Kallistos is fond of recalling the words of Father Amphilochios, an elder of geronta on the island of Patmos, whom he knew when he first visited there: ‘ Do you know – he used to say – that God gave us one more commandment, which is not recorded in Scripture? It is the Commandment Love the trees... When you plant a tree, you plant hope, you plant peace, you plant love, and you will receive God’s blessing.”…

In his lecture ‘ Orthodox theology in the twenty-first century’, he argues that, whereas in the last century, Orthodoxy was primarily exercised by questions of ecclesiology, in this century the attention needs to shift to the question of what it means to be a human person, to questions of Christian anthropology. The Bishop list four reasons why the meaning of human person has become pressing: first, on the social and political level, the threats posed by ever advancing urbanization and globalization; second, the advance of technology, leading to a life dominated by machines, not least computers; third, on an ethical level, problems posed by genetical engineering and the widespread rejection of traditional sexual morality; and finally, the ecological tragedy, ultimately to be traced back to a failure to understand what it is to be human in relation to the cosmos.

= these 3 pages passages are from pages 347-348

 

Please find here the first post of this series, with a general presentation of the book.

 

Thoughts for your weekend: “Heaven is not just the sky over our heads”

Father Christophe_LevaloisOn the occasion of the recent publication of his book Le christianisme orthodoxe face aux défis de la société occidentale [Orthodox Christianity and the Challenges of Western Society] (Cerf, 2018) Father Christophe Levalois gave a fascinating interview to a French periodical.

It is entitled

“Heaven is not just the sky over our heads”.

The journalist and the author dialogue on the challenges Orthodox believers face today in our Western society.

You can access my English translation of the interview here.