Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Saints at War?

Several years ago, an Eastern Orthodox priest tried to correct this errant pro-Western Riter, believing perhaps that I just did not comprehend the glories of Byzantium. Given enough time and exposure, I'd fall in line and see how silly I'd been. Little did he know I love both rites deeply -- and I had worshipped with the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom far longer than he had. Nonetheless, he made it incumbent upon me to read two books: one was a book on Byzantine vestments and accoutrements, and the other was The Blessed Elder George Karslides (1901-1959) by Monk Moses the Athonite.

A few events in the Blessed Elder's life stood out. For one, he levitated, like the Roman Catholic saint Joseph of Cupertino. Another I will relate in a later message. However, this quotation came to mind this week, as we averted a terrorist attack; nonetheless, some insist all good Orthodox must essentially oppose both sides in any conflict -- anywhere, at anytime, for any reason including self-defense:

After a liturgy at Transfiguration, he related with great contrition: "We had visitors Saint Nicholas and Saint John, a strict visitor, Saint John the Forerunner..." When he censed him his hand trembled. At first he used to say: "Today we had the such and such saint concelebrating," afterwards he stopped mentioning this. On the eve of the war with the Italians, he cried constantly. They told him: "What do you have Elder, and why are you crying?" He said: "I remained an orphan." When the war was declared he said, "The Panaghia with Saint George left for the front." (pp. 63-65).

It seems he had made similar statements at other times:

Another villager related that during the Bulgarian occupation invaders came to murder the inhabitants of Sipsa. They took the Elder and led him to the cafe of the village together with other men. The head officer, addressing himself to them said: "You have some saint here who protects you Although we were coming intending not to leave even a chicken alive, our feet and hands are cut." The Elder told them when they left that the Precious Forerunner was cutting their feet and hands. (p. 80).

When women visited the monastery who on the way had denied giving water to soldiers who asked them for some, the Elder spoke to them strictly: "Strive for charity if you want to come to the Elder, be very careful of your actions, examine yourselves always, so that God will love you and the Elder will rejoice." (p. 106).

I wonder what Orthodox Peace Fellowship makes of this?



Blogger JGurrea said...

"I wonder what Orthodox Peace Fellowship makes of this?"

Oh, I can tell you right away. It looks something like this...

Ahem. Whenever the Tradition or some element in the lives of the saints speaks of pacificism and literally turning the other cheek (even on the scale of nations and not just between individuals), it is REALLY the Tradition. Whenever a saints hagiography (like the one you mentioned) speaks neutrally or even positively of war, it is a post-Constantinian development or a secualr embellishment to the hagiography done by those who would manipulate the Sacred Tradition in order to achieve political aims.

See? It's easy.


P.S. I'm glad my ancestors in the Iberian peninsula knew how to interpret the Sacred Tradition when it came to the Moslems.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Matthew the Curmudgeon said...

I totally agree with Julio. Pacifism is a diabolical philosophy
that is spreading like a plague throughout Christianity.Where are the men and women with chests?

4:36 PM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Julio, you're right that some parties are neo-protestant in the way they "use" tradition. They're overlooking much more than a few quotations from this monk: soldier saints, etc. BTW, love your postscript!

Welcome to the blog, Matthew. Thanks for the comments, too. It seems to me another great writer called for "Men with Chests."

God bless,

4:35 PM  
Blogger Angry Orthodox said...

Christ himself said he came to bring a sword, and ask the merchants and moneylenders in the temple how "gentle" he was. And nevermind how saints are warriors: George, Alexander Nevsky etc etc.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Matthew the Curmudgeon said...

Thanks for the welcome. I'm working on creating my own blog but being inexperience in this aspect of computers it going slow. I'll let you know when I'm ready for the world to see it!

8:44 AM  

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