Gladsome Light Dialogues – An Orthodox Blog

A journey through our Orthodox faith as we live it every day

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The Sunday of the Romanian Saints – a universal celebration of all the Saints

June 23rd, 2014 by Fr. Vasile
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An icon of all Romanian Saints

An icon of all Romanian Saints

By Prof. Dr. Rev. Dumitru Staniloae

Romanian Christianity has given fruit to many and wonderful saints even though the humility characteristic to our nation or other unfavorable historical circumstances in which they lived in have not allowed our Church to canonize but a very few of them and only in 1955.

The Romanian saints were real and they have been recognized by popular piety even though the Church has not formally canonized them and has not dedicated them certain calendar days; this is why their deeds have not been praised through special church hymns.

Actually for the longest time the saints have been revealed through the praise they gained through popular piety. Only in the later times the Church has started formal canonizations of the later saints confirming their veneration by large circles of the faithful […]

All saints with the exception of the apostles and missionaries have gained this quality by working for the faithful or becoming remarkable through their pure and sacrificial lives among the faithful of a special place or country. Their veneration started even during their lives or after their death among the faithful of that place has extended step by step beyond those borders. The local saints became in this way universal saints. But they reached this veneration for their purity attained in a certain place or for their martyrdom or for their deeds towards the true faith confessed everywhere so now they can be imitated by the faithful of any place. They have applied the teachings of the true universal faith in a certain place or country. They have served and demonstrated the universal faith in the place they have lived in.

In this way all saints are local saints because they contend in a certain place but they are universal for the universal faith they serve in that specific place. From this point of view there are no local or universal saints. All are local for the people from a certain place which they serve during their lives through their deeds and example but all are universal because this example is available for the faithful everywhere and contributes to the unity of all that want to know them. All are filled by the same Christ that shines through their beings and all are the bearers of the same Holy Spirit even though the Holy Spirit That communicated to them was shared to others in a different language. They all belong through the Same Spirit to the Universal Church started at Pentecost and continued through the centuries involving different nations (Acts 2:3). Their languages May be different but their souls are filled by the Same Spirit and they feel the Same Christ.

So the Romanian Saints be they martyrs of the faith in the fourth century or in the eighteenth century be they hierarchs that illumined the people with their word or helped them with their deeds be they ascetics that reached the highest spiritual stage in God through prayer for themselves and for the people they have all elevated the character of the true faith and the image of man that lives the faith seriously to a step that urges the faithful everywhere when they get to know them to live their faith with more conviction and follow their example.

The more the saints make themselves known through their exceptional lives in the place they live in the more their faces radiate with even more power in the Universal Church. But the unity between their local and universal service can also be made known in a different way.

A saint even though he elevates at the highest level the characteristics of a certain nation the height that he attains makes him embrace with an all-encompassing love all the people. There is no individual selfishness or national exclusivism in the saints. That’s why they are true bridges of brotherhood among people and nations. Through the saints more that through all the faithful the catholicity of the Church is deepened even though this does not imply the erasing of the differences among the nations they belong to her. Through them the catholicity of the Church is deepened as the faithful from different nations get to know them. This is because these faithful are asking for their intercessions with conviction and these saints truly intercede for them. This is why it would be good if the various Orthodox Churches would recognize through official documents known to their respective people the canonizations made by each sister Church to contribute even more to the unity of their people in their piety dedicated in reciprocity to their saints.

It would be good for the faithful everywhere to know the saints from all places because each saints brings through his deeds in other circumstances a model of deeds for any circumstances in their lives. The lives of the saints and their lives permeated by the presence of God in them surpass their local determinations being elevated to what could be a universal model and a reassurance for the faithful of any place. This is why it would be recommended that the lives of the saints from any nation would be made known through translations in the languages of the other orthodox people. Through this it would be accomplished what has been done in the oldest centuries of the Church reaching the universalization and the unification of the piety of all the orthodox people around all the saints. It would be a practical way for the Church to reach even more fraternity among the people in her midst. […]

After the national conscience of the different orthodox people has been affirmed to the world in the nineteenth century it May be that our times require an affirmation of their unity as different people but united through their common values and most of all by the conscience that they all live the same faith in a God at work mostly through their Sacraments and their saints. […]

Original post in Romanian language here

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Free time and information overload

May 9th, 2014 by Fr. Vasile
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5558879546_7f028b3207_bMost probably the inventors of the internet, which modestly started as a small information sharing network, did not hope, even in their wildest dreams, that in less than 50 years their invention will evolve into what is today the greatest information exchange that ever existed. The library of Alexandria? Child play! Think about all that goes through the internet today: websites, e-mail, news, TV, social networks, entertainment, financials, do-it-yourself, phone calls, video calls, encyclopedias, e-books, maps and we’re just scratching the surface. All you want is there waiting to be found at the literal touch of a finger. Nobody asks anyone anything before they “google” the information.

With an internet connection at hand one feels like a kid in a… Continue reading

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Are we religious or are we faithful?

April 2nd, 2014 by Fr. Vasile
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Pascha_multitudesI read a very interesting article a few weeks ago that caught my undivided attention. The title was very daring to begin with: “Religious people are dangerous” and, on top of that, it was written by an Orthodox Bishop, so that made it even more thought-provoking.  The following passage summarizes it best: “You who go to church, how has the Church benefitted you? As we said yesterday, we went to the shrines, you saw the fathers, you saw the holy relics, you saw Mount Athos, you saw the Panagia in Tinos, you saw everything, and now we have returned. Ultimately of what benefit will all these things be? Have our hearts transformed? Have we become more humble people? Are we… Continue reading

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We remember and we honor because it matters

March 8th, 2014 by Fr. Vasile
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20140308-235337.jpgSunday of Orthodoxy 2014

We all take Orthodoxy for granted and we forget all about Synods, Saints and Holy Fathers. We are mostly ignorant that torture, prison, exile, even death were things experienced by previous generations, even close to us, just to keep the faith. Persians, Turks, Communists, even modern secularists all tried to break the faith but all failed.

However the greatest danger comes always from within: heresies. The most dangerous are things that seem right, are apparently well intended but are actually not. In the First ecumenical council one iota (the letter i in Greek alphabet) made the difference between Orthodoxy and heterodoxy (homoousios vs homiousios).

The last ecumenical council argued over what a kiss represents. What do I believe when I venerate an… Continue reading

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The Great Fast – by Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver

February 28th, 2014 by Fr. Vasile
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Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver

Metropolitan Isaiah – photo courtesy of Vladimir Grigorenko

As we enter into the holiest period of the year in preparation for the glorious Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we ask ourselves, “Why should we follow the discipline of fasting, which in essence is abstinence?” What is the purpose of it? Obviously the purpose is that we may be ready to meet our Lord and to receive His promise of eternal life in His Kingdom.

We realize, according to Holy Scripture, that we were created to live forever; and that we will live eternally after the return of Christ to the earth, with our resurrected bodies reunited with our souls. The… Continue reading

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The Tao of Whatever and the Abolition of Man

February 25th, 2014 by Fr. Vasile
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Entrance in JerusalemLiving in a multi-cultural, post-modern world brought to us by the new era of rapid communication, we are more and more exposed to cultures that are, or at least seem to be, very remote from our own. Although many of them are in fact foreign, there are times when we find in them something that strikes a sensitive chord with us. Take for instance the concept of “Tao,” found in the homonym religious movement, Taoism, but also in Buddhism, Confucianism, and even in Eastern Martial Arts.

An easy explanation of Tao would be a path or way of life. James Legge, a famous researcher of Chinese culture, described Taoism as “the exhibition of a way or method of… Continue reading

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‚ what shall we do with our kids on Halloween?">Honey what shall we do with our kids on Halloween?

December 10th, 2013 by Fr. Vasile
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Romanian Traditional New Year Dress-up

Romanian Traditional New Year Dress-up

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. (1 Co 10:23)

Spending all my childhood and early youth in native Romania, I have to admit that I am not (yet) emotionally involved with all the major American Holidays. I am working on it, especially since my family has been naturalized a few years ago, but I find myself a bit of a stranger around these days. This fact, however, offered me the opportunity to research their meaning with fresh inquiring eyes and to not just take them for granted. I take for… Continue reading

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A Cure for Depression from St. Silouan the Athonite

December 10th, 2013 by Fr. Vasile
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st-silouan-and-elder-sophrony-in-sept-1933The greatest plague of the 21st century is not AIDS, nor cancer, nor the H1N1 flu, but something that affects much more people in ways we can barely start to understand: depression. Reportedly one in ten Americans suffers from one or the other forms of this malady. The rates of anti-depressant usage in the United States are just as worrisome. A recent poll unveils that one in eight Americans is using them. Prozac, Zyprexa, Cymbalta are not strange alien names anymore, but familiar encounters in almost every American household. Even children approach the usage rates of adults. These are very high and paradoxical numbers in a country where all are free to enjoy “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”… Continue reading

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Miley Cyrus and the Beheading of St. John the Baptist

August 29th, 2013 by Fr. Vasile
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beheadingThe entire Internet is still in a state of consternation after the recent performance of Miley Cyrus at the MTV Video Music Awards. Since I am way past the MTV viewers median age, I found out about it from a post on a social network. Although I was bracing myself for something inappropriate, I was in for a surprise. In fact, it was so painful that I could not watch more than a few seconds of the recording. It hurts deeply to see a beautiful young woman like her descending so low on the scale of decency. The only thing on my mind was: why? I saw in her all the lost daughters of the world that allowed themselves to be… Continue reading

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A Humble Perspective

August 2nd, 2013 by Fr. Vasile
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IHS X HumilityRecently Pope Francis made a couple of affirmation in an impromptu press conference that made the headlines of all major news agencies. They deal with the very “hot” issue of the Christian view on homosexuality. In the context of the building pressure from the secular society, the recent development in the United States’ Supreme Court and the lawsuit against the Anglican Church that is coming up from a same sex couple in Britain, one can understand why the press was so eager to find out what the Pope had to say about it. The headlines wrote things like: Pope Francis: The end of ‘fortress Catholicism’, Pope’s gay tolerance no shock and so forth, implying that the Pope… Continue reading

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