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Archive for July, 2010

Karen Campbell, aka Thatmom and anti-patrio apologist extraordinaire is airing an interview she recently recorded with Quivering Daughters author Hillary McFarland.  Check it out here!

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So Doug Phillips thinks its okay to let women die in order to “save” children who cannot live outside the womb and never will.  I’m sure his eight children would really appreciate his irrational and ungodly position if his wife was ever faced with a terminal diagnosis for her unborn baby that also posed a significant risk to her life.

Tonight, I am very thankful that God is my judge.  To Doug Phillips, I am no better than a murderer and guilty of child-sacrifice.  I would never make it past the gates of Mr. Phillips’ heaven.  I am thankful that God shows mercy where Phillips shows none.  I am thankful for God’s love and for the love shown to me by the people of God.  I am thankful for my priest who listened to my story and gave me comfort, and who values life more than anyone else I’ve ever seen.

And I am very thankful that Panagia is holding my child in her arms and that she is nurturing my beloved little one until I can be with her again.

“Remember, O Lord, Lover of Mankind the souls of Thy departed servants, infants who died accidentally in the wombs of Orthodox mothers from unknown cause, either from difficult birth, or from some carelessness and who therefore did not receive the Mister of Holy Baptism. Baptize them, O Lord, in the sea of Thy compassions, and save them by Thine inexpressible grace. Amen.”

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Saint Maria Skobtsova

A few Saints from the 20th century have already been recognized by the Church.  Saint Maria Skobtsova reposed in the Lord only 65 years ago.  Her story is remarkable:

“Born to a well to do, upper-class family in 1891 in Latvia, she was given the name Elizaveta Pilenko. Her father died when she was a teenager, and she embraced atheism. In 1906 her mother took the family to St. Petersburg, where she became involved in radical intellectual circles. In 1910 she married a Bolshevik by the name of Dimitri Kuzmin-Karaviev. During this period of her life she was actively involved in literary circles and wrote much poetry. Her first book, Scythian Shards, was a collection of poetry from this period. By 1913 her marriage to Dimitri had ended.

Through a look at the humanity of Jesus—”He also died. He sweated blood. They struck his face”—she began to be drawn back into Christianity. She moved—now with her daughter, Gaiana—to the south of Russia where her religious devotion increased.

In 1918, after the Bolshevik Revolution, she was elected deputy mayor of the town of Anapa in Southern Russia. When the White Army took control of Anapa, the mayor fled and she became mayor of the town. The White Army put her on trial for being a Bolshevik. However, the judge was a former teacher of hers, Daniel Skobtsov, and she was acquitted. Soon the two fell in love and were married.

Soon, the political tide was turning again. In order to avoid danger, Elizaveta, Daniel, Gaiana, and Elizaveta’s mother Sophia fled the country. Elizaveta was pregnant with her second child. They traveled first to Georgia (where her son Yuri was born) and then to Yugoslavia (where her daughter Anastasia was born). Finally they arrived in Paris in 1923. Soon Elizaveta was dedicating herself to theological studies and social work.

In 1926, Anastasia died of influenza—a heartbreaking event for the family. Gaiana was sent away to Belgium to boarding school. Soon, Daniel and Elizaveta’s marriage was falling apart. Yuri ended up living with Daniel, and Elizaveta moved into central Paris to work more directly with those who were most in need.

Her bishop encouraged her to take vows as a nun, something she did only with the assurance that she would not have to live in a monastery, secluded from the world. In 1932, with Daniel Skobtov’s permission, an ecclesiastical divorce was granted and she took monastic vows. In religion she took the name Maria. Her confessor was Father Sergius Bulgakov. Later, Fr. Dmitri Klepinin would be sent to be the chaplain of the house.

Mother Maria made a rented house in Paris her “convent.” It was a place with an open door for refugees, the needy and the lonely. It also soon became a center for intellectual and theological discussion. In Mother Maria these two elements—service to the poor and theology—went hand-in-hand.

When the Nazis took Paris in World War II, Jews soon approached the house asking for baptismal certificates, which Father Dimitri would provide them. Many Jews came to stay with them. They provided shelter and helped many escape. Eventually the house was closed down. Mother Maria, Fr. Dimitri, Yuri, and Sophia were all taken by the Gestapo. Fr. Dimitri and Yuri both died at the prison camp in Dora.

Mother Maria was sent to the camp in Ravensbrück, Germany. On Holy Saturday, 1945, Mother Maria was taken to the gas chamber and entered eternal life. It is suggested that she took the place of another who had been selected for that death.”

Why Saint Maria did not fit the mold:

1. While she was a Christian, she was not quiverfull. 

2. She sought a divorce from her husband.  I don’t know why, but the reasons must have been legitimate in order for her to receive an ecclesiastical divorce.

3. She took monastic vows and dedicated her life to serving the poor and helping whoever came to her in need.

4. Mother Maria taught theology to anyone who came to her- male or female.

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Saint Olga, Equal-to-the-Apostles

The All-Praised Olga, Equal to the Apostles, Princess of Kiev

“Saint Olga, renowned for her wisdom and sobriety, in her youth became the wife of Igor, Great Prince of Kiev, who ruled during the tenth century. After her husband’s death, she herself ruled capably, and was finally moved to accept the Faith of Christ. She traveled to Constantinople to receive Holy Baptism. The Emperor, seeing her outward beauty and inward greatness, asked her to marry him. She said she could not do this before she was baptized; she furthermore asked him to be her Godfather at the font, which he agreed to do. After she was baptized (receiving the name of Helen), the Emperor repeated his proposal of marriage. She answered that now he was her father, through holy Baptism, and that not even among the heathen was it heard of a man marrying his daughter. Gracefully accepting to be outwitted by her, he sent her back to her land with priests and sacred texts and holy icons. Although her son Svyatoslav remained a pagan, she planted the seed of faith in her grandson Vladimir (see July 15). She reposed in peace in 969.”

~excerpted from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America

How Saint Olga broke the mold:

1. She ruled Kiev after the death of her husband.  I guess she was part of the “monstrous regiment of women”…

2. She did not remarry and even deliberately found a way around marrying the Emperor.  Thankfully, the Emperor was not offended and sent Olga back to Kiev with priests and icons.  In effect, Saint Olga was one of the first people to bring Christianity to Ukraine (Russia at the time).  Her grandson, Vladimir, is one of the most beloved Saints of the Russian people.

3. After the death of her husband, she did not return to the home of her father, but instead, converted to Christianity and traveled to Constantinople to be baptized.  Talk about “feet not remaining at home!”

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Mother and Martyr: Saint Julitta

Last week, we celebrated the Feast of Sts. Julitta and Kyrikos, mother and son.  Our church is blessed to have a relic of Saint Kyrikos contained in our altar and in a reliquary so that we may venerate it on his feast day  Theirs is a tremendous and tragic story.

Saint Julitta and Saint Kyrikos

“The Holy Martyrs Cyricus and Julitta lived in the city of Iconium in the province of Lykaoneia in Asia Minor. St Julitta was descended from an illustrious family and was a Christian. Widowed early on, she raised her three-year old-son Cyricus (Quiricus). During the emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians, St Julitta departed the city with her son and two trustworthy servants, leaving behind her home, property, and servants.

Concealing her noble rank, she hid out first at Seleucia, and then at Tarsus. There around the year 305 she was recognized, arrested and brought to trial before the governor, Alexander. Strengthened by the Lord, she fearlessly answered the judge’s questions, and firmly confessed her faith in Christ.

The governor gave orders to beat the saint with rods. During her torments St Julitta kept repeating, “I am a Christian, and will not offer sacrifice to demons.”

The little boy Cyricus cried, seeing his mother being tortured, and wanted to go to her. The governor Alexander tried to sit him on his lap, but the boy broke free and shouted, “Let me go to my mother, I am a Christian.” The governor threw the boy down from the high tribunal and kicked him down the stone steps. The boy struck his head on the sharp edges and died.

St Julitta, seeing her lacerated son, gave thanks to God that He had permitted her child to be perfected before her, and to receive the unfading crown of martyrdom. After many cruel tortures St Julitta was beheaded with a sword.”

~excerpted from the Orthodox Church in America

Would that I had the courage of Saint Julitta and, my children, the devotion of Saint Kyrikos!

How Saint Julitta did not fit the mold:

1. She was widowed young, but did not remarry, nor did she return to her father’s house.  She managed a household, but she did not submit to any male authority.

2. She was tortured and beheaded for Christ.  A lot of us like to fancy ourselves as martyrs, but I’m fairly certain that if someone threatened the lives of my children, I’d have a very difficult time not saying anything they’d ask me to.  I’m ashamed to admit it, but there it is.

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Macrina the Righteous, Sister of St. Basil

“Saint Macrina, the elder sister of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, was sought after by many as a bride because of her beauty, wisdom, and illustrious birth, and in tender youth was espoused by her parents to a bridegroom of fitting nobility. When her betrothed died, Macrina refused any other suitors, and devoted herself to a life of virginity, asceticism, and prayer. When her brother Basil returned from a brilliant career in the best schools of Constantinople and Athens, puffed up with not a little youthful pride-for knowledge puffeth up-it was the ardent admonitions and holy example of his blessed sister that persuaded him to turn from seeking worldly glory to the service of God. Saint Macrina founded a convent, where she ended her earthly life in the year 379, and was buried by her brother Gregory, who wrote a moving account of her last days and his grief at seeing such a light pass out of the world.”

~excerpted from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America

Why St. Macrina didn’t fit the mold:

1. She never married and never gave birth to any biological children.  She didn’t stay in her father’s house.  She refused suitors.  She CHOSE the monastic life and lived in virginity from a very early age.

2. She rebuked her brother, St. Basil, when he returned home from seminary with a puffed up attitude.

3.  I appreciate the hymn we sing in honor of St. Macrina and I think this illustrates well how this beautiful, humble Saint stayed well outside the patriocentric mold:

“In thee the image was preserved with exactness, O Mother; for taking up thy cross, thou didst follow Christ, and by thy deeds thou didst teach us to overlook the flesh, for it passeth away, but to attend to the soul since it is immortal. Wherefore, O righteous Macrina, thy spirit rejoiceth with the Angels.”

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Mary Magdelene, Myrrhbearer & Equal to the Apostles

“Saint Mary was from Magdala in Galilee on the Sea of Tiberias, and for this was named Magdalene. When the Lord Jesus cast out seven demons from her, from which she had been suffering, she became His faithful and inseparable disciple, following Him and ministering unto Him even to the time of His crucifixion and burial. Then, returning to Jerusalem together with the rest of the Myrrh-bearers, she prepared the fragrant spices for anointing the body of the Lord. And on the Lord’s day they came very early to the tomb, even before the Angels appeared declaring the Resurrection of the Lord. When Mary Magdalene saw the stone taken away from the tomb, she ran and proclaimed it to Peter and John. And returning immediately to the tomb and weeping outside, she was deemed worthy to be the first of the Myrrh-bearers to behold the Lord arisen from the dead, and when she fell at His feet, she heard Him say, “Touch Me not.” After the Lord’s Ascension, nothing certain is known concerning her. Some accounts say that she went to Rome and later returned to Jerusalem, and from there proceeded to Ephesus, where she ended her life, preaching Christ. Although it is sometimes said that Saint Mary Magdalene was the “sinful woman” of the Gospel, this is nowhere stated in the tradition of the Church, in the sacred hymnology, or in the Holy Gospels themselves, which say only that our Lord cast seven demons out of her, not that she was a fallen woman. “Madeleine” is a form of Magdalene.”

~excerpted from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America

How did St. Mary Magdelene break the mold?

1. It appears from Scripture that she was independently wealthy.  The Gospels make no mention of a husband.  Mary freely followed Jesus during his ministry in Galilee, even to His death and burial.  It is also safe to assume that Mary did not live in her father’s house.  When she was found by Jesus, she was possessed by seven demons which He cast out of her.  But she still had money and supported herself and Jesus’ ministry.

2. The resurrected Christ appeared to Mary after the other myrrhbearing women fled the tomb to tell the disciples about His resurrection.  He spoke His first words to her.

3.  Even though the particulars of Mary’s life after Christ’s resurrection are not known, the Church does agree that Mary worked as a missionary, preaching and teaching the Gospel wherever she went and probably not under the authority of a man.  She was an evangelist.

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