Monday, December 31, 2018
Friday, December 21, 2018
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
"More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia:
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Built 1555-1561 by Ivan the Terrible, complete with horrible legends of blinded architects,
the incredible, fairytale-like church in Red Square has had many names, including:
Intercession Church (prophetic, I think!)
The Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat
(Theotokos refers to Mary, the Mother of Jesus)
Church of Intercession on the Moat
Temple of Basil the Blessed
The name of Vasily (Basil) the Blessed was attached to the church in the 17th century. He is buried on-site and Ivan the Terrible, who he had boldy spoken out against,
was reportedly one of his pallbearers. Who was this man?
His parents were poor serfs. He was said to have been born at the entrance of a local church. He trained as a cobbler, but was known for stealing to give to the poor. He wore chains willingly and sometimes went naked in public. They called him a Holy Fool.
He survived insulting Ivan the Terrible, calling him out for letting his mind wander in church (specifically telling him what he had been thinking about) and for violence and cruelty toward the innocent. He won the respect of the ruthless leader who, years later, served as his pallbearer. He called Basil "a seer of hearts and human thoughts."
He was said to be the only man Ivan feared.
When he was a young man working as cobbler, a merchant placed an order with him for boots. Basil suddenly began to weep and asked the man to cancel the order, as he would soon die
and would never wear them. The man passed away several days later.
At just 16, the future saint arrived in Moscow and began exhibiting bizarre behavior. He would walk around barefoot in summer and winter. In one instance, he knocked over a stand of bread and poured out a jug of kvass (a traditional drink). The shopkeepers attacked him, but he remained joyful and thanked God. They soon discovered, however, that something had been wrong with both the bread and the beverage. He had saved everyone from getting sick!
People began to see him as a holy man and, in a tradition of the time, a Holy Fool
or Fool-for-Christ, because his actions often seemed unusual.
He prayed for and showed kindness toward people who were drinking in the local taverns, sometimes clinging to the walls outside and weeping for their souls.
His prayers were said to have stopped an invasion of Russian lands in 1521 when Khan Makhmet-Guirey was scared by a supernatural vision of legions of soliders and retreated.
In 1547 he foresaw the great fire of Moscow. He was believed to have extinguished another fire at Novgorod through prayer and symbolically pouring wine out of a window. It was discovered later that there had been a fire in Novogorod at that time, but it did not spread far because someone unknown to the eyewitnesses was seen pouring water over the burning houses. Later, after visiting Moscow, some of them recognized Basil as the stranger
they had seen on that day, but he had been miles away at the time.
There came to be so much respect for him that the church in Red Square is now commonly known as St. Basil's Cathedral. It is arguably the most recognized symbol of Russia.
Isn't it remarkable what can become of a simple person, a fool for Christ?
Thursday, December 13, 2018
I had my most moving Communion experience, so far, in my college apartment on the floor in front of a TV. It may have been my first Holy Communion, but I am not sure. It may not sound holy to you, but it was to me.
and with all my heart.
I was walking in that type of darkness where things are okay and just going along, but it's not enough and it is not at all okay. My ideas of right and wrong were unsatisfying. Not a lot of life made sense. Is this all there is? Work. Then come home from work. Buy nice dishes. Get a haircut. But why?
There had to be more.
I had no real sense of direction, except for experiences I had with the Lord at various times when I was growing up. Those stood out to me. They were real. It drew me to Him.
Jesus Christ is real.
It is hard for me to find the words, but He brought me to life. I was not, but now I am. I hungered for more because there is more. I was lost, just as lost as any bad guy or anyone who seems just terrible, just as lost as that. But now I am found. I didn't find myself. I was found, by a real person, Jesus.
That's why I celebrate.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!