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Posts Tagged ‘Saints!’

It’s A Saint!

A Russian Orthodox one, of course. They are just too adorable.

Saint Ambrose of Optina was pretty holy, which seems to be important to being a Saint or something. But his holiness really went the distance. He was such a lovable, loving person that many people were seriously influenced by him (or, at least, wanted to be influenced by him). He sort of provided the basis for a pivotal character in one of the most important books ever written. He was also a Sagittarius! Anyway: Dostoevsky based the charming (if one can call saints charming) Elder Zosima of The Brothers Karamazov on Saint Ambrose.

Now, it is a fucking fact that if you’ve read The Brothers Karamazov, you swooned over Elder Zosima. He gets pages and pages of the book to just sort of ramble on about loving your neighbor. It’s so fantastic, that I’m going to copy some actual words of Saint Ambrose, as well as those of his fictional counterpart, so we can all swoon together. There are also some actual photographs of Saint Ambrose. They’re very strange and dreamy; he seems so distant, as if he’s walking in-between worlds. Plus, his beard is like a great wispy cloud that is begging for an affectionate tug.

“From kindness, people see things entirely differently.” – Saint Ambrose

“Love redeems and saves everything.” – Elder Zosima

“You must force yourself, though against your will, to do some good for your enemies and mainly, not to seek vengeance but to be careful so as not to offend them with an appearance of contempt and humiliation.” – Saint Ambrose

“What is Hell? It is the suffering for being no longer able to love.” – Elder Zosima

“Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love
every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants,
love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine
mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it
better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an
all-embracing love.” – Elder Zosima

Finally, there’s this last one, which I think might be one of the greatest sentences ever constructed:

“To live–do not grieve, do not judge anyone, do not vex anyone, and to everyone my regards.” – St. Ambrose

That is one lovable man.

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Man oh man, I’m wild about Julian of Noriwch.

Julian is the best. We were first introduced when one of the characters in Iris Murdoch’s lovely The Black Prince informed a character (named Julian) that she was named after the great Blessed Julian. I’ve read her little masterpiece, The Revelations of Divine Love, several times, and it is one of the kindest religious texts I’ve yet found.

Julian was an anchoress in medieval England, living her life out in a small cell attached to her church. The 14th and 15th centuries were quite a time for female mystics, and for more on it I highly recommend Visions and Longings, a compiliation of their writings put together by Monica Furlong. Julian herself might have passed from history without a sound, but she became sick when she was 30 and believed she was shown visions. They occured again later in her life. These visions brought her out of the narrow, infidel-hating religion of her times and gave her a sense of universal love and salvation. Her religious ideas after these visions give the impression that all people will be saved, that everything is for the best and it’s only our being caught up in the flux of things that prevents us from feeling that with all our souls.

It might seem like to wishful thinking to some, but to read Julian herself is to be given the feeling that every atom of the universe is precious and accounted for. Here are some of the things she herself wrote:

Love was without beginning, is, and shall be without ending.”

He that made all things for love, by the same love keepeth them, and shall keep them without end.

God willeth that we endlessly hate the sin, and endlessly love the soul, as God loveth it.”

All this was to make us glad and merry in love.”

Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. Everything passes away except God.”

In her visions, Julian was shown a hazelnut. And what an important little thing it was! For the hazelnut shows the reader what we all are, how small, and how loved:

[Jesus] shewed me a little thing, the quantity of an hazelnut, in the palm of my hand; and it was as round as a ball. I looked thereupon with eye of my understanding, and thought: What may this be? And it was answered generally thus: It is all that is made. I marveled how it might last, for methought it might suddenly have fallen to naught for a little. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasteth, and ever shall for that God loveth it. And so All-thing hath the Being by the love of God.”

And she continues, ostensibly about the hazelnut, but really about everyone:

In this Little Thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it, the second is that God loveth it, the third, that God keepeth it.”

Julian and the Hazelnut

Finally, there is everyone’s favorite:

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

Love her.

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One of the, you know, good people kind, not the football players. Though, of course, far be it from me to suggest the two don’t overlap.

St. Seraphim of Sarov

I’m gonna be honest about this from the get-go. I’m blogging about a dead white guy because I am nuts about pictures of saints. They are almost always utterly fucking fantastic. Especially icons from the Orthodox Church. So today I am going to talk about St. Seraphim of Sarov, and we’re gonna look at some excellent pictures of the dude.

Here is a brief summation of his life, from my point of view. Mr. Seraphim was a pretty fantastic fellow. A Russian: that’s neat. Kinda super holy. Liked to pray a lot as a kid. He joined a monastery when he turned 18. He went to the woods, where he prayed a lot. Then, things got incredible. He got a pet. A pet… bear.

This Is Art.

That is a picture of St. Seraphim with his pet bear, Misha. I wrote this post so I could put up this picture. Please pay attention to how awesome this picture is, because it really is fucking incredible.

In the woods, St. Seraphim did a lot of bonding with God and fed a lot of animals. Everyone thought he was groovy (because he was), but he didn’t really see anyone. He was a wee bit of a loner. Then one day a bunch of bandits roughed him up in the woods. While he was unconscious on the ground, they went into his hut and only found an icon of the Holy Mother. Then, somehow they were caught. Call me skeptical, but these bandits must have been pretty stupid if they beat up a hermit in the woods and thought they were going to get all sorts of, I don’t know, jewels.  Oh well, let’s not ruin a good story, I wasn’t there.

Anyway, at their trial St. Seraphim came to plead for mercy on their behalf. I can’t find out whether or not they got it, which is a shame. Afterwards he headed over to a rock where he prayed every night for a 1,000 nights with his arms raised up in the air. This is extra noteworthy since St. Seraphim was now a hunchback after the rather devasting injuries resulting from his attack. Again, I kinda wish I had access to the records to see that all of this was legit. But there’s a statue of Seraphim kneeling on his rock in Russia, so I guess somebody somewhere double-checked.

Our St. Seraphim decided it was time to try and help people, and no longer live without much human interaction. He got social and allowed people to visit him. He became renowned for his loving advice and counsel. Tsar Nicholas I tried to have Seraphim join his government, but Seraphim refused, which is also neat. But to be serious, some of his advice was actually very beautiful. This particular saying of his I find very moving:

Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved.”

mmm, holy art.

So all in all, I find a lot to like here. Feeding bears. Living in the woods. Pleading for mercy for his attackers. Some stuff about being full of peace. I give him two thumbs up. I’m also kinda completely serious about my adoration for this guy. Gotta find myself a real icon of him somehow. I just fucking love holy art.

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