Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov

Useful Information For Those Who Fast

Posted in Uncategorized by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 15 June 2014

Greetings on the beginning of the Apostles’ Fast 2014! Here is some useful information for those who keep the fast. I will try to add a new item every one or two days.

  • Spirulina has more protein than beef! 100 g of beef has only 26 g of protein, but 100 g of spirulina has 57 g of protein.
  • One serving of steamed goosefoot (aka lamb’s quarters, chenopodium album, лебеда садовая) contains 60% of the vitamin B1, 40% of the vitamin B6, 60% of the calcium and 70% of the magnesium daily recommended intake.
  • Fasting For Non-Monastics (click here)
  • 100 g of kale contains 15% DV of calcium and 8% of iron. It even has 4.3 g of protein!
  • If you do not like to eat kale plain, here are a couple of recipes for smoothies from simplegreensmoothies.com:

Recipe 1

2 cups kale, fresh
2 cups water
2 cups pineapple
1 banana
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Blend kale, water and coconut oil until smooth. Next add the remaining fruits and blend again.

* Use at least one frozen fruit to make the green smoothie cold.

Recipe 2

2 cups kale, fresh
2 cups water
3 bananas
1/4 avocado

Blend kale and water until smooth. Next add the remaining fruits and blend again.

* Use at least one frozen fruit to make the green smoothie cold.

  • Quinoa, which is also a chenopodium (goosefoot, лебеда), is a lenten source of complete protein (8 grams in a cup of cooked quinoa) and an excellent source of iron (15%), magnesium (29%) and vitamin B6 (10%).
  • 1 cup of cooked buckwheat (гречневая каша) contains 6 grams of complete protein (and this is in addition to 20% of iron, 20% of vitamin B6, and 98% of magnesium!).
  • A good explanation of what makes a complete protein can be found herehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complete_protein
  • Incomplete sets of amino acids eaten within 24 hours are combined in the body to make complete protein. For example, rice for lunch and beans for supper will provide the body with complete protein just like rice and beans eaten together.
  • Soy beans contain complete protein. 1/2 cup of firm tofu has 10 grams, and 1/2 cup of soy tempeh–15 grams of complete protein.
  • “And you, take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt, and put them into a single vessel, and make bread of them.” This recipe from Ezekiel 4:9 makes a complete protein.

 

 

to be continued…

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NOW ON KINDLE: There Is No Sex in the Church!

Posted in News by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 7 May 2014

BookCoverPreview

NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE

There Is No Sex in the Church! On the Problematics of Sexuality and Gender in Orthodoxy.

Please follow the link to read it on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K5RU3T6

Readers’ Comments:

–This book is a catalyst for a much-needed conversation in the Orthodox Church. I find it very insightful and fascinating.

–Father Sergei Sveshnikov does not offer definitive answers in this book –rather, he offer subjects for exploration. These are talks from the heart –scholarly, humorous, and with the distinct savor of Holy Orthodoxy. A good companion to the recent books by Father Lawrence Farley (“Feminism and Tradition” and “One Flesh”).

–Fr. Sergei takes a very fair approach in his analysis of sexuality within the Orthodox Church- a subject that is rarely discussed directly. As an Orthodox Christian with a Master’s in Religious Studies, I highly recommend his work.

Follow this link to see other books and articles by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov: https://www.amazon.com/author/sveshnikov

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New Low Price on “Break the Holy Bread, Master!” [Kindle Edition]

Posted in News by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 6 May 2014

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New Low Price on the Kindle Edition of “Break the Holy Bread, Master!”

Get it now for just $2.99!

Follow the linkhttp://www.amazon.com/dp/B004Z8N5DC

Follow this link to see other books and articles by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov: https://www.amazon.com/author/sveshnikov

 

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Prayer: A Personal Conversation with God? [Kindle Edition]

Posted in Articles, Practical Matters by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 5 May 2014

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Prayer: A Personal Conversation with God?

What is prayer and why we pray

AVAILABLE NOW ON KINDLE

Please follow this link to read it:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K57YSDI

Follow this link to see other books and articles by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov: https://www.amazon.com/author/sveshnikov

 

 

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Fasting for Non-Monastics [Kindle Edition]

Posted in Articles, Practical Matters by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 27 December 2013

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AVAILABLE NOW ON KINDLE: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K5B0GF8

INTRODUCTION

A curious phenomenon can be observed in the interactions between pastors and their parishioners at the beginning of each major fast of the Church. Pastors attempt to call their parishioners’ pious attention to the spiritual heights of fasting: the fighting against sin, the conquering of passions, the taming of the tongue, the cultivation of virtues. In turn, parishioners pester their pastors with purely dietary questions: when fish is allowed, whether soy milk or soy hotdogs are Lenten foods, whether adding milk to coffee is breaking the fast, or whether there is some dispensation that can be given to the young, the elderly, those who study, those who work, women, men, travelers, the sick, or those who simply do not feel well. In response to the overwhelming preoccupation with dietary rules to the detriment of the spiritual significance of fasting, some pastors, seemingly out of frustration, began to propose in sermons and internet articles that dietary rules are not important at all: if you want yogurt during Lent, just have some as long as you do not gossip; if you want a hamburger, then eat one, as long as you do not devour a fellow human being by judging and backstabbing. Unfortunately, such advice rarely helps eradicate gossip, judging or backstabbing. Rather, it seems to confuse people into thinking that since they have not yet conquered these and many other vices in their hearts, they do not have to fast from hamburger either. Thus, I would like us to discuss the very topic which fascinates so many lay people: what the fasting rules are and how they are to be followed by those of who have not taken the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.

(more…)

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September Is Marriage Month / Сентябрь-месяц святого супружества

Posted in News by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 25 August 2013

SCROLL DOWN FOR ENGLISH

СЕНТЯБРЬ—МЕСЯЦ СВЯТОГО СУПРУЖЕСТВА

В сентябре отмечается память сразу нескольких пар святых супругов: святых мучеников Адриана и Наталии (8 сент.), святых Петра и Февронии Муромских (15-го сент.), пророка Захарии и праведной жены его Елизаветы (18 сент.), и святых и праведных богоотец Иоакима и Анны (22-го сент.).

В связи с таким изобилием благодатных примеров святого супружеста, объявляем сентябрь месяцем святого супружества в нашем приходе!

За каждой воскресной Литургией (кроме 1-го сентября) после чтения Евангелия будут возноситься особые молитвы о супругах, а также особые службы и молитвословия в дни памяти святых супругов. Все особые службы, содержащие молитвы о супругах и супружестве, отмечены в расписании знаком * (см.расписание).

Да благословит Бог брачный союз православных супругов, и да управит его во святой образ Христа Своего и Его Невесты-Церкви!

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SEPTEMBER IS A MARRIAGE MONTH

In September, we commemorate the memory of several pairs of holy spouses: holy martyrs Hadrian and Natalia (Sep. 8), saints Peter and Fevronia of Murom (Sep. 15), holy prophet Zacharias and his righteous wife Elizabeth (Sep. 18), and the holy and righteous ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna (Sep. 22).

In recognition of such an abundance of grace-filled examples of holy marriage, we declare September to be a Marriage Month in our parish!

At each Sunday Liturgy (except September 1), following the reading of the Gospel, there will be special petitions for spouses proclaimed during a litany. Also, special services and prayers will be held on the days of the commemoration of the saints. All special services are marked in the schedule with the sign * (see schedule).

May God bless marriage unions of Orthodox Christians, and may He lead them to the holy image of His Christ and Bride the Church!

NOTE: THE SCHEDULE OF SERVICES IN ENGLISH WILL BE AVAILABLE SOON!

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An Interview About Sexual Identity on OCN

Posted in Interviews, News by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 15 July 2013

Orthodox Christian Network

“Sexual identity is all over the media right now, but where is the Orthodox voice on gender and sexual identity when we turn on the news or read the papers? Here to talk about one news story that’s getting national attention is Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov of Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia Orthodox Church in Mulino, Oregon.”

The interview begins at minute 11 of the track.

Listen to the Interview! (click here)

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See also:

The Problematics of Orthodox Sexuality

and

An Interview About Gay Marriage on OCN

+

Help Our Church!

Our church is the first church in the world dedicated to the memory of the holy new martyrs and confessors of Russia, and it is the only Russian-speaking Orthodox parish in Oregon.

Our church exists solely on donations.

Support our church! Make a small donation today!

To donate through PayPal, click here

Or mail a check to Russian Church, PO Box 913, Mulino, OR 97042

Click this link for the donation page

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There Is No Sex in the Church!: On the Problematics of Sexuality and Gender In Orthodoxy

Posted in News by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 30 June 2013

NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK!

A new book by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov

There Is No Sex in the Church!:

On the Problematics of Sexuality and Gender In Orthodoxy

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

This work is a collection of essays written over the years on topics related to human sexuality and gender issues within Russian Orthodox Christianity: marital sex, homosexuality, ritual impurity, and others. In an introduction to one of the sections, the author writes:

“…Having written a couple of opinion papers touching on the difficulties of discussing matters of human sexuality in the context of the Russian Orthodox Church, and having pointed out the existence of a wide spectrum of opinions on what Christians should do in bed—ranging from the strictest and almost total prohibition of any form of sexual behavior with possible exceptions for the most penitentiary of position and then only a few times in a lifetime specifically for the purpose of procreation, to an attitude of total permissiveness brushing off any questions with assertions that the marriage bed is undefiled and whatever married people do in their bedroom is all blessed—I have, quite naturally, been asked to clarify my own position on what should and should not be allowed… I should like to discuss three topics: 1) the idea that a husband and wife should attempt to live “like brother and sister,” that is to say, abstaining from sex altogether or limiting it only to specific times and forms necessary for procreation; 2) the idea that a husband and wife can do whatever they want as much as they want in the privacy of their bedroom and none of it is the Church’s business; and 3) a possible middle ground which does not reject the joy of the married state moderated by a certain measure of ascetic discipline of the body and the soul…”

WARNING 

This book deals with adult subject matter and is intended for adult readers. If you are offended by the discussion of human sexuality, this book is not for you. Some sections of this book contain very graphic language and reader discretion is strongly advised.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Contents: (more…)

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An Interview About Gay Marriage on OCN

Posted in Interviews, News by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 15 June 2013

Orthodox Christian Network

“Join Fr. Chris as he speaks with Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on the topic of gay marriage. Why does the Orthodox Church hold the view it does? How do we communicate that view with Christian love? You won’t want to miss this open and honest conversation!”

Listen to the Interview (click here!)

+

See also:

The Problematics of Orthodox Sexuality

and

And Interview About Sexual Identity on OCN

Thinking Out Loud About Gay Marriage

+

Help Our Church!

Our church is the first church in the world dedicated to the memory of the holy new martyrs and confessors of Russia, and it is the only Russian-speaking Orthodox parish in Oregon.

Our church exists solely on donations.

Support our church! Make a small donation today!

To donate through PayPal, click here

Or mail a check to Russian Church, PO Box 913, Mulino, OR 97042

Click this link for the donation page

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Help our church!

Posted in News by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 21 April 2013

Our church is the first church in the world dedicated to the memory of the holy new martyrs and confessors of Russia, and it is the only Russian-speaking Orthodox parish in Oregon.

Our church exists solely on donations.

Support our church! Make a small donation today!

To donate through PayPal, click here

Or mail a check to Russian Church, PO Box 913, Mulino, OR 97042

Click this link for the donation page

Commemorations during the Paschal Liturgy on May 5, 2013 (pdf)

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There Is No Sex in the Church!: On the Problematics of Sexuality and Gender In Orthodoxy

Posted in Articles, Practical Matters, Theology by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 16 April 2013

NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK!

A new book by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov

There Is No Sex in the Church!:

On the Problematics of Sexuality and Gender In Orthodoxy

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

This work is a collection of essays written over the years on topics related to human sexuality and gender issues within Russian Orthodox Christianity: marital sex, homosexuality, ritual impurity, and others. In an introduction to one of the sections, the author writes:

“…Having written a couple of opinion papers touching on the difficulties of discussing matters of human sexuality in the context of the Russian Orthodox Church, and having pointed out the existence of a wide spectrum of opinions on what Christians should do in bed—ranging from the strictest and almost total prohibition of any form of sexual behavior with possible exceptions for the most penitentiary of position and then only a few times in a lifetime specifically for the purpose of procreation, to an attitude of total permissiveness brushing off any questions with assertions that the marriage bed is undefiled and whatever married people do in their bedroom is all blessed—I have, quite naturally, been asked to clarify my own position on what should and should not be allowed… I should like to discuss three topics: 1) the idea that a husband and wife should attempt to live “like brother and sister,” that is to say, abstaining from sex altogether or limiting it only to specific times and forms necessary for procreation; 2) the idea that a husband and wife can do whatever they want as much as they want in the privacy of their bedroom and none of it is the Church’s business; and 3) a possible middle ground which does not reject the joy of the married state moderated by a certain measure of ascetic discipline of the body and the soul…”

WARNING 

This book deals with adult subject matter and is intended for adult readers. If you are offended by the discussion of human sexuality, this book is not for you. Some sections of this book contain very graphic language and reader discretion is strongly advised.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Contents: (more…)

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Liturgy: parallel Slavonic / English Text (PDF)

Posted in News by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 8 April 2013

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Thinking Out Loud About Gay Marriage

Posted in Articles, Theology by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 3 April 2013

Not long ago, I was invited to participate in a discussion on gay marriage on a radio program of Oregon Public Broadcasting. The occasion seemed timely enough—a proposition to legalize gay marriage was on a ballot in Washington, a neighboring state. A few days later, I found out that the main guest on the program would be Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Church. Bishop Robinson had published a new book which was being introduced on the show. Naturally, the author received most of the airtime. The host, Dave Miller, did allow me a few minutes in which to represent my point of view—hardly enough to even begin to develop an intelligent argument. The issue of gay marriage, however, is most certainly here to stay. Thus, I have decided to put down a few thoughts on the digital equivalent of paper…

NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK!

A new book by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov

There Is No Sex in the Church!: On the Problematics of Sexuality and Gender In Orthodoxy

+

An Interview About Gay Marriage on OCN

Other Books by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov

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Support our church! Make a small donation today!

To donate through PayPal, click here

Or mail a check to Russian Church, PO Box 913, Mulino, OR 97042

Click this link for the donation page

 

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Symposium “Prayer in the Church Fathers”

Posted in News by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 18 February 2013

Large crowds attend the Institute’s San Francisco Symposium

(http://www.sforthodoxinstitute.org/222-sf-symp-initialreport)

The Institute’s second regional symposium in San Francisco took place over the weekend of 16th-17th February at the Old Cathedral of the Holy Virgin, led by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, joined by Archimandrite Irenei (Steenberg) and Fr. Serge Sveshnikov (click here for a program of the symposium’s events and talks). Some 200 participants took part in two full days of talks, panel discussions and Divine Services, focusing on the common theme of Prayer in the Church Fathers and in the life of Orthodox Christians today.

Following the pattern established by the Institute’s first San Francisco Symposium last year (entitled Living Icon: Symbolism in the Divine Liturgy), this year’s event brought together a collection of speakers to address a common theme from various viewpoints — historical, theological, practical and personal. With paper titles ranging from ‘Prayer and Creation,’ ‘The Fathers on the Beginnings of Prayer,’ ‘The Jesus Prayer in Daily Life,’ ‘Prayer: A Conversation with God?’ to ‘Prayer in Liturgical Worship and With the Holy Icons’ and others, participants were able to hear reflections on the life of prayer in Orthodoxy that aimed not only to expand their understanding of history and theology, but ultimately (and above all) to increase their love for prayer and preparation for growth in its practice.

This was exemplified by the central feature of the two-day symposium: the celebration of the Divine Services in common, at which symposium participants were joined by faithful from the parish community for the services, presided over by Metropolitan Kallistos and concelebrated by many participant clergy from the symposium. It was a joy for many to see the Old Cathedral packed to the rafters with faithful, eager to pray in common and receive the divine life of the heavenly Mysteries.

True to the mission of the Institute, the Symposium drew an authentically pan-Orthodox audience, with participants representing every Orthodox jurisdiction present in North America, together with several non-Orthodox participants. The combination of so many Orthodox cultures allowed for fruitful opportunities to explore differing traditions, discuss differences in practice and approach, etc. — but all within the deeply unifying experience of a common drive towards growth in the Orthodox life of prayer.

Following the conclusion of the two-day symposium proper, a special dinner event with Metropolitan Kallistos took place at the nearby New Cathedral of the Holy Virgin, at which the Metropolitan spoke on the engaging and unusual topic, The Place of Humour in Orthodoxy, reflecting on the nature of humour and laughter, and their relationship to the seriousness of Orthodox life.

Throughout, participants were able to experience expert talks, interactive discussions and question-and-answer sessions, short outings and pilgrimages, common meals, personal time with the speakers, and much more; and with letters already received at the Institute office via e-mail with comments such as ‘This event changed my life,’ and ‘never did I know that an educational conference could so profoundly affect my desire to pray with more depth and grow closer to God,’ we are hopeful that the Institute’s aim of fostering life in the Church through its educational activities will find itself well met by this weekend’s activities. Our sincere thanks to all our speakers, participants, and the generous and wonderful, self-sacrificing hosts at the Old Cathedral of the Holy Virgin.

Photos: Day 1

Photos: Day 2

http://www.sforthodoxinstitute.org/

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Support our church! Make a small donation today!

To donate through PayPal, click here

Or mail a check to Russian Church, PO Box 913, Mulino, OR 97042

Click this link for the donation page

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Meaningful Action

Posted in News by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 14 December 2012

As reports of another mass shooting were reaching people on the West Coast, I think that I was not the only one experiencing shock and disbelief.  Oregonians are still trying to make sense of the tragedy that happened at the Clackamas shopping mall–only a quarter of a mile from my children’s school.  And now another shooting–this time at an elementary school.  Somehow, when senseless violence is directed at a random group of people, it seems easier (but not easy!) to handle this emotionally than when it is focused, concentrated, and specifically targeting children.  I must admit: I find myself utterly unable to make any sense of this latest act of unspeakable evil.

When people are faced with such overwhelming and difficult emotions, it is natural for them to try to do something.  Bloggers will blog, facebookers will update their stati with stuff like “Re-post if you….,” school principals will review their schools’ safety principles, and politicians will politick.  I wanted to write something, but things like “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” while certainly reflecting how I feel, do not seem relevant or somehow enough.  Instead, I really want to explore a phrase in President Obama’s speech which caught my attention. The President called for “meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this.” (more…)

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On the Importance of the New Russian Martyrs

Posted in Interviews by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 13 February 2012
Sophia Moshura (PravMir.com): Why is it important for Orthodox Christians outside of Russia (Americans, Europeans) to revere the Russian New-Martyrs? We understand what they did for Russia, but why should they be revered outside of Russia? (more…)

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Life As a Sacrament

Posted in Practical Matters, Theology by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 24 December 2011

Русский: Жизнь как Таинство

A talk given at St. Herman Orthodox Youth Conference on 24 December 2011 in Ottawa, Canada

Introduction

We all know of the sacraments of the Church and recognize them as certain events or milestones in our Christian lives: we get baptized, we prepare for confession and Communion, get married, and some may get ordained to the holy priesthood…  These important markers provide us with the time and place to be face-to-face with God, to unite with Him within His Holy Church, His Body.  But what about the rest of our life?  Well, we pray for a few minutes in the morning and also in the evening.  But what about the rest?  All too often, our lives are fractured: there is the Christian part—Church sacraments and services, prayers and readings; and there is the secular part—school, work, a party at a friend’s house, a movie on Friday night—and the two parts seem to be as far apart as the east is from the west.  Indeed, what is so spiritual about cooking breakfast?  Or, how can one be (or not be) a Christian while brushing one’s teeth?  The very mechanistic separation between Church and the rest of life seems to be as commonplace in modern Christianity as the separation of Church and state.  But can there be another model?  Is there a way to reconcile the broken pieces of the modern fractured life and to live one whole and simple Christian life?  Here, we will discuss the meaning of the word “sacrament,” the role that sacraments play in our life, and also some ways in which we can guide and shape our everyday life toward a greater connection with God and His Church. (more…)

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Funerals and Memorial Services

Posted in Practical Matters by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 14 November 2011

Russian: Отпевание и панихиды 

Translated from Russian by Fr. Michael van Opstall

The final hours before death

The leaving behind of the earthly life full of suffering, and the translation into eternity is the most solemn moment in the life of any Christian. However, friends and relatives, sometimes removed from Christian traditions, bear the death of a loved one with great grief. They often lose their orientation and leave the important job of the setting an Orthodox Christian on his final path in the hands of a funeral home. (more…)

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Break the Holy Bread, Master [Kindle Edition]

Posted in News by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 7 May 2011

Break the Holy Bread, Master: A Theology of Communion Bread is now available in the Kindle edition

BREAK THE HOLY BREAD, MASTER

A Theology of Communion Bread

a book by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov

This work examines the history, theology, and praxis of the use of sacramental bread in traditional Christianity. From the Last Supper to the Great Schism, and from Christology to ecclesiology and Christian anthropology—the symbolism of bread has dominated Christian history and belief. What kind of bread did Christ offer to His disciples at the Last Supper? Why do Roman Catholics and the Orthodox disagree on how to bake bread? What is the significance of the symbolism of bread for Christian theology and praxis? This book addresses these and many other questions. Scholars and bakers, clergy and lay folk alike—all are invited to take a closer look at that which speaks of our unity—one loaf to represent one Body.

Published with the blessing of His Eminence Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America, Russian Orthodox Church.

“I am very pleased to offer my recommendation in support of Fr. Sergei’s work “Break the Holy Bread, Master.”  Within its pages, the reader will find a wealth of information that explains and outlines the historical and ecclesiastical development of the use of leavened bread in the Eastern Orthodox Church.  The thesis will benefit anyone who wants to learn more about the liturgical practice of both the Eastern and Western Rite.”

    † Theodosy, Bishop of Seattle, 26 February 2009

An interview for the Orthodox Christian Network: click here to listen

Jane G. Meyer’s review of the book for Ancient Faith Radio: click here to listen

CLICK HERE TO ORDER THE KINDLE EDITION

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Sermon on the Day of the New Russian Martyrs (2008)

Posted in Sermons by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 4 February 2011

Russian: Слово в день памяти свв. новомучеников Российских (2008)

In the Name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit!

Dear in Christ Fathers, brothers, sisters, and children,

Today we celebrate the memory of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, the heavenly intercessors for our parish.  Their memory is precious to us for many reasons—some personal, some that relate to the entire Russian Church.

Since ancient times, the Christian Church has been strengthened by examples of its martyrs’ unshakable faith.  These examples, passed down through generations of Christians, have nurtured and strengthened the Holy Church.  From the times of the Apostles, Christians have gathered around the holy relics of martyrs, celebrating their memory and looking up to their standing in faith despite torture and persecution as a source of strength and inspiration in their own spiritual lives. (more…)

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Sermon on the Day of the New Russian Martyrs (2007)

Posted in Sermons by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 4 February 2011

Russian: Слово в день памяти свв. новомучеников Российских (2007)

Translated from Russian by Priest Michael van Opstall

Dear fathers, brothers, sisters, and children!

Today we celebrate the memory of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. This day is notable for us for several reasons.

A quarter of a century ago, the foundation of our church was laid in the memory of the Holy New Martyrs and under their prayerful protection. Ivan Vladimirovich and Lyudmila Raymondovna Assur founded this church in the memory of Ivan’s father, the New Martyr Vladimir, who was killed for preaching Christ. Metropolitan Veniamin (Fedchenkov), the well-known churchman and writer blessed New Martyr Vladimir to preach. The history of this small parish in its picturesque setting is similar to the mountains which are visible to the northeast: there have been peaks and there have been valleys. The ever-memorable Hieromonk Seraphim Rose once prayed at Divine Liturgy in this solitary place, and later heavy trucks roared along Route 213, destroying the usual prayerful silence. The parish grew and became strong in the Truth. We need not recall all of the days of difficulties, but there was a schism in 2001, the deep wounds of which are not yet healed to this day. By the prayers of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, may the Lord strengthen us, and may the trials which are sent to us be for our spiritual growth. (more…)

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On the Blessing of Homes On Theophany

Posted in Practical Matters by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 18 January 2011

Russian: Об освящении домов крещенской водой

Why Bless a Home?

The Orthodox Church teaches that we do not have two separate lives–a secular one and a spiritual one–but one human life, and that all of it must be holy.  We must not be Christians for just a few hours on Saturday and Sunday, spending the rest of our life godlessly, that is to say, without God.  The person who has united with Christ in the sacrament of baptism cannot be a part-time Christian, but must be faithful to Christ everywhere and at all times–in church, at work, at home, in relationships with other Christians, and in those with non-Christians–we must be faithful to Christ in the fullness of our life.

The Holy Orthodox Church teaches us that a temple is not only a building in which we worship, but that we are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16); that the Body of Christ is not only that of which we partake at the Divine Liturgy, but that we are the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27).  And just as the Gifts of the Eucharist are treated with reverence and kept in sanctified vessels in the altar, so should every Christian’s life be full of reverence and sanctity not only during a church service, but likewise outside the walls of the temple.  A Christian’s home must become a small temple, work–labor for the glory of God, and family–a small Church. (more…)

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There Is No Sex in the Church!

Posted in Articles, History, News, Practical Matters, Theology by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 17 January 2011

This paper explores the attitudes within the Russian Orthodox Church toward marital sex by putting the issue into historical,theological, and pastoral contexts.  It strives to begin a dialogue between the laity, married clergy, and monastic hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church about one of the important aspects of every Christian marriage–marital sex.

NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK!

A new book by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov

There Is No Sex in the Church!: On the Problematics of Sexuality and Gender In Orthodoxy

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The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith. Lesson 12.

Posted in The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 13 December 2010

English-language supplement for the Law of God classes for adults at the Holy New Martyrs of Russia Church in Mulino, OR

Lesson 12

Introduction

As we are slowly but steadily progressing through the service of the Divine Liturgy, I hope that we can keep one thing in sharp focus: the Liturgy is not an ancient memorial to people and events long gone, it is not an archeological artifact, and it is not a magical rite or a compilation of formulae designed to produce specific results when done properly.  Rather, the Liturgy is one of the most intimate expressions of our relationship with God.  And like any human relationship, our relationship with God requires that not only He shows us His love, but also that we respond in kind.  Therefore, one of the most dangerous things in Christianity is to become a spectator who observes all, but is not willing to participate.  Deacon Andrei Kuraev once likened such people to those who are terminally ill and know which medicine can save them; they know where to get it, they read studies and reports about its benefits, they know all there is to know about this medicine, but they do not take it themselves.  It is easy to see that knowing and partaking are two very different things and lead to two very different outcomes. (more…)

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The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith. Lesson 11.

Posted in The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 4 December 2010

English-language supplement for the Law of God classes for adults at the Holy New Martyrs of Russia Church in Mulino, OR

Lesson 11

The Small Entry, continued

The Holy Table

When the royal doors are opened for the Small Entry, the faithful are able to see into the altar.[1] The most prominent item in the altar is the holy table[2].  The modern holy table has much stylized beauty about it—glittery vestments, ornate crosses and Gospels, etc.—but its original simple purpose and meaning are still preserved in the Liturgy.  The holy table is just that—a table.  If we recall an icon of the Last Supper, we will remember that Jesus and His disciples are sitting or reclining at a table.  The earliest Christian catacomb frescoes also depict Christians sitting or reclining around a table during the Eucharist.[3] Thus, the modern holy table is the heir of that ancient table in the Upper Room[4] or a Roman Catacomb which bore the Food of Life, the Holy Gifts of the Eucharist.  In the course of the Divine Liturgy, the Holy Gifts are placed onto the holy table, consecrated, and then distributed to the faithful in Holy Communion.  Often, the Eucharist of the Early Church was served on the sarcophagi containing the relics of Christian martyrs, or at their burial sites.  Today, we also serve our Liturgy on the relics of Christian martyrs—they are placed inside the holy table or sewn into a cloth called the antimins[5] which is then placed onto the holy table. (more…)

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The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith. Lesson 10.

Posted in The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 28 November 2010

English-language supplement for the Law of God classes for adults at the Holy New Martyrs of Russia Church in Mulino, OR

Lesson 10

Introduction

Whereas during the singing of the first two antiphons the clergy and faithful just stand, the third antiphon is different both in its content and in the sacramental act that takes place during it.  Because the clergy begin to do something during the third antiphon—walk in and out of the altar, but the faithful typically remain standing just as they do for the first two, there is a possibility of a disconnect between the actions of the clergy and the participation of the lay people, or lack thereof.  In this lesson, we will learn about the content of the third antiphon, its place in the Liturgy, and the meaning of the clergy’s movements. (more…)

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Nativity Fast and Thanksgiving Turkey

Posted in Practical Matters by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 23 November 2010

Russian: http://osergii.wordpress.com/

Published on Orthodoxy and the World

In two days, on November, 25, America is going to celebrate Thanksgiving Day which has a very significant role in American families because it is one of the few times a year that the family gets together. Thanksgiving Day is also called a Turkey day because it usually involves a meal with turkey or at least a more elaborate meal. Most American Orthodox Christians started the Nativity Fast on November, 15. How can an Orthodox Christian navigate these family gatherings, often with family who are not Orthodox, and still keep the Nativity fast? (more…)

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The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith. Lesson 9.

Posted in The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 22 November 2010

English-language supplement for the Law of God classes for adults at the Holy New Martyrs of Russia Church in Mulino, OR

Lesson 9

Introduction

The first three sacramental prayers that we discussed in the previous lesson showed us some very important things.  First, their “secret” is the truth about God that we as Christians are supposed to proclaim from rooftops.[1] Second, we as Christians need to know this truth for our own spiritual benefit and in order that we may proclaim it.  What good is a lamp if it is hidden under a bushel?[2] And again, “there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light.”[3] In this lesson, we will continue our discussion of the first part of the Liturgy—the Liturgy of the Catechumens. (more…)

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The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith. Lesson 8.

Posted in The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 12 November 2010

English-language supplement for the Law of God classes for adults at the Holy New Martyrs of Russia Church in Mulino, OR

Lesson 8

Introduction

According to the current practice, while the deacon proclaims the petitions of various litanies during the Liturgy, the priest “secretly” recites other prayers.  These prayers are even called the secret prayers.[1] This, however, may be a misunderstanding.  In the early Church, Christians indeed hid from persecution and often participated in the sacraments—such as the Eucharist—in secret.  However, this was not in secret from each other, but in secret from those who were not Christian.  Additionally, some of the Christian knowledge, especially with respect to the praxis of the Eucharist, but also to some of the core Christian beliefs—as the latter are inseparable from the former[2]—comprised what was known as the disciplina arcani and was not revealed even to the catechumens until they were fully initiated into Church.  As we mentioned in the previous lesson, the catechumens had to leave the church before the Eucharist began, and as a symbol of the exclusivity of some of the Christian praxis, the deacon calls on the faithful to guard the doors—both of the temple and of our tongue—before the faithful join together in the recitation of the sacred wisdom—the Creed of the Orthodox Faith: “The doors!  The doors!  In wisdom let us attend!” (more…)

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The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith. Lesson 7.

Posted in The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 23 October 2010

English-language supplement for the Law of God classes for adults at the Holy New Martyrs of Russia Church in Mulino, OR

Lesson 7

Introduction

In the previous lesson, we began our discussion of the Divine Liturgy with its very first words—the blessing given by the priest and the response of the faithful.  In this lesson, we will continue our discussion of the structure of the Liturgy and the fundamentals of the Orthodox faith revealed to us through this service.

The Liturgy consists of two parts: the Liturgy of the catechumens and Liturgy of the faithful.[1] The first part of the Divine Liturgy is called the Liturgy of the catechumens because in ancient times the catechumens attended this part of the service, but had to leave the church when the part called the Liturgy of the faithful began.  Catechumens are people who have decided to become Christian and are preparing for baptism.  In ancient times, this preparation consisted both of instruction in the form of classes, lessons, and lectures, but also of praxis, such as prayer and fasting.  The length of this preparation varied by century, location, and circumstance.  The Apostolic Constitutions, a document which was compiled at the end of the fourth century but is based on much earlier documents, contains the following rule: “Let him who is to be a catechumen be a catechumen for three years.  However, if anyone is diligent and has a good-will to his earnestness, let him be admitted [to baptism].  For it is not the length of time that is to be judged, but the course of life.”[2] (more…)

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The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith. Lesson 6.

Posted in The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 16 October 2010

English-language supplement for the Law of God classes for adults at the Holy New Martyrs of Russia Church in Mulino, OR

Lesson 6

Introduction

The most common Liturgy used in the Russian Church is the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom (349-407).  But other Liturgies also exist, and some are used more or less frequently.  One of the most ancient Liturgies in use today is the Liturgy of the Holy Apostle James († 62).  The Russian Church also uses the Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great of Caesarea in Cappadocia (330-379) and the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts attributed to Saint Gregory Dialogus (ca. 540-604).[1]

Most Churches that experienced Byzantine influence in their liturgical worship, and this includes the Russian Church, celebrate the Liturgy of Saint Basil ten times a year: on the five Sundays of Great Lent, on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday, on the Eves or the Feasts of the Nativity and Theophany—depending on the days of the week on which these feasts fall, and on the feast day of Saint Basil— 1 January according to the Church calendar.[2] The Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts is commonly celebrated on Wednesdays and Fridays during Great Lent.[3] And the Liturgy of Saint James is celebrated on the feast day of the saint, but practically never in parish churches.

Many volumes of detailed studies have been written on the origins and histories of each Liturgy, but it suffices to say that it is more likely than not that none of the discussed Liturgies was actually “written” by any of the saints to whom it is ascribed.[4] Almost certainly, when we say “The Liturgy of the Holy Apostle James” or “The Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom” what we actually mean is “The Liturgy of the Church of Jerusalem” and “The Liturgy of the Church of Constantinople.”  In the case of the Liturgy of Saint James, it was likely recorded in writing after the repose of the Apostle based on the unwritten liturgical tradition established by him.  Moreover, “the words, probably, in the most important parts [of the Liturgy of Saint James, and] the general tenor in all portions … [descended to us] unchanged from the apostolic author.”[5]

The liturgical traditions of the Churches in Caesarea and Constantinople[6] already existed by the time that Saint Basil and Saint John were born and were based on the tradition of the Church of Jerusalem.[7] Both saints—Basil and John—are credited with, perhaps, unifying, somewhat modifying,[8] and strengthening existing traditions through writing them down, but certainly not with composing their own Liturgies “from scratch.”  Thus, it is most appropriate to think of the Liturgy as a living tradition of the Church, which nourishes the entire community and is preserved, supported, and maintained by the entire community, including the Apostles and the Fathers who expressed the very foundations of the apostolic faith through the sacred words of the Liturgy.  In this course, we will focus mostly on the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom as the most common in the Russian Church, and refer to some parts of the Liturgy of Saint Basil where appropriate. (more…)

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The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith. Lesson 5.

Posted in The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 9 October 2010

English-language supplement for the Law of God classes for adults at the Holy New Martyrs of Russia Church in Mulino, OR

Lesson 5

Introduction

Having prepared ourselves, we are now ready to enter into God’s temple.  But let us now pay attention—there should be nothing mechanical in our actions, everything we do must be deliberate and intentional, filled with reason and meaning.  Let us return to the beginning: we are now ready to enter into God’s temple.  First, it is God’s.  We have been invited by the Creator of all—not just the Earth, and the stars, and the galaxies, but of the very space, and matter, and time, and amazing things of whose existence we cannot even guess—to enter into His innermost Holy of Holies, to enter into communion with Him, and to quite literally enter into His Body even as He enters into our bodies.  Second, it is a temple.  It is a space and time sanctified, set aside, for the service of God—and only and exclusively for this purpose.[1] (more…)

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The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith. Lesson 4.

Posted in The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 2 October 2010

English-language supplement for the Law of God classes for adults at the Holy New Martyrs of Russia Church in Mulino, OR

Lesson 4

Introduction

Beginning with the next lesson, we will examine the structure of the Divine Liturgy.  We will not, however, concentrate on all of the actions of the clergy, the way a seminary student would learn how to serve when he is ordained a deacon or a priest.  Rather, we will focus our attention on the meaning of the various parts of the Liturgy, that is to say, the fundamentals of our faith contained in the Liturgy, and on the way that the faithful participate in the service.

In this lesson, we will briefly discuss how one must prepare for participation in the Divine Liturgy.  We will come up, as it were, to the very door of the temple, without entering in until next Sunday.

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight” (Mark 1:3)

Every good deed begins with preparation, and so does the Liturgy.  The daily cycle of services in the Orthodox Church does not begin with the Liturgy—it culminates with it; it finds its highest point in the Holy Eucharist.  In this course, however, we will not study the services that precede the Liturgy—a topic which we hope to cover next year.  This year, we will fast-forward directly to the service of prothesis,[1] also known by another Greek word—proskomedia, or “an offering.”  But first, let us discuss what is necessary to begin the Divine Liturgy. (more…)

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The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith. Lesson 3.

Posted in The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 18 September 2010

English-language supplement for the Law of God classes for adults at the Holy New Martyrs of Russia Church in Mulino, OR

Lesson 3

Introduction

In the previous lesson, we undertook the difficult task of defining some key terms for our discussion of the Eucharist.  As tedious as this task was, it allows us to come closer to the main topic of this course and begin our study of the Eucharist.  As we discussed earlier, the Eucharist is a sacrament or even The Sacrament—it is the covenant between God and His people, the means by which Christ enters into us and we enter into His Body—and the two shall be one flesh.  Thus, we uncover one more meaning of the word sacramenta covenant.

In our discussion of sacraments we noted that there seem to be many sacraments of which Christians partake, but really there is only one—the sacrament of our salvation.  We can now apply the same paradigm to covenant.  God has established many covenants with the human race: the covenant with Adam, the covenant with Noah, the covenant with Abraham, the covenant with the patriarchs, the covenant with Moses, and many others.  But if we examine all of these covenants, we will realize that they are not separate covenants, but instead the same covenant between God and man, which was confirmed and reassured at different times and in different ways.  Let us now try to place the Eucharist in the context of only three sacred covenants: the covenant of Adam, the covenant of Moses, and the covenant of Christ. (more…)

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The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith. Lesson 2.

Posted in The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 12 September 2010

English-language supplement for the Law of God classes for adults at the Holy New Martyrs of Russia Church in Mulino, OR

Lesson 2

Introduction

Before we begin our study of the Liturgy and the foundations of our faith expressed through this service, we must define a few key terms that will help us in our discussion: sin, Eucharist, sacrament, baptism, and repentance.  Because this course is designed for people who are not theologians by training and is not intended to produce professionally trained theologians, our definitions and discussions will necessarily be incomplete.  We will try to examine only a few of the key ideas in ways that are easy to understand, but I urge all students to note things that seem interesting, ask questions, refer to the works of the authors whose names are mentioned in the lessons, and study the source texts directly. (more…)

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The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith. Lesson 1.

Posted in The Law of God: Foundations of the Orthodox Faith by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 5 September 2010

English-language supplement for the Law of God classes for adults at the Holy New Martyrs of Russia Church in Mulino, OR

Lesson 1

Introduction

When we visit different places, if we pay attention, we can usually tell to what purpose a certain place is dedicated, and what different people find most important or interesting.  At a library, we see shelves with books and comfortable chairs with lamps—this place is designed for storing books and allowing people to enjoy reading them.  At a university, we see large rooms with many seats and a lectern in front of them—this place is designed for allowing professors to lecture students.  At a concert hall, we also see many seats and a stage in front of them—this place is designed for allowing musicians to perform for spectators.  And at a friend’s house, we may see posters of a famous actor on every wall—this tells us that our friend likes this actor, finds him interesting, and spends time reading about him and watching his films.  It is much the same with Orthodox Christians: by observing how we build our churches, how we decorate them, and what we do, we can learn a lot about what we see as most important to us, what we are most interested in.  It does not at all mean that we are not interested in anything else—quite the opposite: we enjoy good books, good music, and good films.  But our relationship with our God is more important than all other things put together, and we express our understanding of this relationship in church. (more…)

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The Feast of the All-Merciful Saviour

Posted in Sermons by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 2 August 2010

1/14 August 2009

All-Merciful Saviour Monastery, Vashon Island, WA

Those who are lucky enough to call this monastery their home parish, and those who came here from other cities and towns in order to partake of the sanctity of this holy place—I greet you with the Feast of the All-Merciful Saviour and His Most Holy Mother. (more…)

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Saint Seraphim will help!

Posted in Sermons by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 1 August 2010

Russian: http://osergii.wordpress.com/

A talk given at the celebration in the Western American Diocese on 2 August 2003, Monterey, California

One of the organizers of the celebration of the glorification of Saint Seraphim of Sarov was a Russian patriot, General Vladimir Feodorovich von der Launitz, governor of Tambov in 1903. The General devoted his whole life to serving the Tsar and his Fatherland, and was eventually killed by a terrorist revolutionary while leaving a church. When he was asked how such a grand ecclesiastical celebration as the glorification of a saint can be organized, Vladimir Feodorovich crossed himself with a sweeping motion and responded, “Saint Seraphim will help!” These words of the Russian nobleman of an ancient boyar family were meant to express that which united over three hundred thousand people gathered from all corners of Russia in the Sarov monastery in July 1903: the hope with which the faithful turn to the God-pleasing saint for almost two centuries now, beseeching him for prayers and intercession before the Lord. (more…)

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Rauschenbusch’s “The Social Principles of Jesus” and the Identity of Western Christianity

Posted in Theology by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 10 July 2010

It is said that Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918) was “the leading spokesman for the theology of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism” (from the introduction by Pelikan, 586).  Although a Baptist minister, Rauschenbusch apparently rejected biblical literalism in favor of historical criticism—a method of biblical analysis that originated in Rauschenbusch’s fatherland in the first half of the nineteenth century.  This method, quite popular even today, allowed Rauschenbusch to see the Gospel through the prism of the contemporary understanding of history, which in the age of social revolutions was dominated by the struggles of the lower classes.  In a series of books and essays, Rauschenbusch applied principles he believed were found in the Gospel as calls for social reform that continue to ring true for many modern Christian theologians.  In “The Social Principles of Jesus,” Rauschenbusch’s last essay published in 1918, the author attempted to use his reading of the Gospel as a foundation for social philosophy.  It is this reading, however, that, in our view, makes the foundation rather shaky.

The problem is in the fact that Rauschenbusch’s historical analysis turns Jesus into a failed Jewish revolutionary, and the Church into a piece of corrupted machinery with aimlessly spinning wheels (587-8).  Of course, Rauschenbusch curtseys to the traditional notions of Christ’s divinity in the opening paragraph of the essay, but immediately announces His losing in the “great spiritual duel … between him and the representatives of organized religion” (586).  As such, however, neither Jesus nor His Church can serve as a foundation for anything, except perhaps something like Vladimir Lenin’s “we will follow a different path.”[1] (more…)

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Varietal or Generic? On William James’ “The Will to Believe.”

Posted in Theology by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 9 July 2010

For approximately a millennium, from the era of the first few Ecumenical Councils and through the Reformation, Christian faith was guided by a rather small number of established traditions.  This was not the case in the first few centuries of Christendom, as many competing views on core Christian teachings were vetted, and theologians sought ways of talking about new concepts and doctrines.  The result was not only the development of uniquely Christian ideas, such as the full humanity and divinity of Christ, but also the crystallization of a new theological language.  This new language gave new definitions to already existing philosophical terms and developed many new ones.  And as Christianity struggled to give precise definitions to such terms as hypostasis or ousia, among many others, strong traditions of Christian theology were established in part through the precision of language and clarity of thought.  Thus, the formation of traditional Christian theologies can be seen as the result of the polemic between the greatest thinkers that Christendom could produce.

A very similar process appears to have been restarted in the West, as post-Reformation Christendom fell apart into various creeds and theologumena.  And just as fitting definitions were sometimes elusive in antiquity, the language employed by modern thinkers is sometimes marked by a lack of clarity.  Apart from the issue of inclusivity—a type of thinking that purposefully avoids rigid definitions on the basis that someone is sure to disagree—some modern Christian theology often lacks definitions as if unintentionally.  Perhaps, this murkiness is due to a more intuitive understanding of faith that does not rely on reason as heavily as did the medieval scholastics.  More likely, however, this is due to a more simplistic approach to faith, rejection of the old dogmas, and a renewed process of finding “new and improved” definitions.  In this sense, in the last four hundred years Western Christian thought has been going through a process of discovering its own beliefs not unlike that of the first five centuries of Christendom.  Whether this is an ascent on the eternal spiral of human self-discovery, or the West’s attempt at reinventing the wheel is a topic for a different paper.  It suffices to say here that while some of the ideas born by modern Christian theologians do excite the taste with their freshness, many others fail to find their way out of the graveyard of ancient heresies. (more…)

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The Problem of the Central Persona in Eliot’s “The Waste Land”

Posted in Articles by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 2 July 2010

I must admit that faced with the task of writing a short paper on “The Waste Land,” I agonized over the difficulty of pinpointing a topic—the poem seems bizarre, to say the least, and defies standard analytical thinking.  I was certainly glad that I did not have to study the poem in school; although my wife, who did, could not recall either a line or a theme from the work.  Perhaps, like esteemed critics of old, I too approached the poem “structurally looking for underlying mystic, symbolic, or formal coherence” (Davidson 6). (more…)

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On Tithing

Posted in Practical Matters by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 1 July 2010

Russian: http://osergii.wordpress.com/

The Church is the Body of Christ, and just as Christ united in Himself human and heavenly nature, in the Church the heavenly is united with the earthly.  The Church is not only comprised of apostles, saints, and holy monks, but also of us—exactly in as much as we submit our earthly selves to the heavenly—”I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20); in as much as we live in Christ.  As the Lord builds His Heavenly Church through the saints, He builds the Earthly Church through us. (more…)

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The Third Sunday After Pentecost: Seek First His Kingdom And His Righteousness

Posted in Sermons by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 11 June 2010

In today’s Gospel reading (Matt. 6:22-33), Christ urges us not to be anxious about our lives and bodies—what we shall eat, drink, or wear (25).  But how can this be, if we must eat and drink, and clothe ourselves?  Are we not earthly beings, who are bound by laws of biological existence?  Do we not come from our forefather Adam, who is dust (Gen. 3:19), and as he was so we also are (1 Cor. 15:48)?  This is true; we are descendants of Adam, and find ourselves in a fallen state.  We sustain our lives by devouring the created world, we wrap out bodies in that which is corruptible, our soul draws its inspiration from the lusts and desires of our bodies, and our spirit feeds on the passions of the soul.  This is the order of life that has become habitual to us, but it is not natural for us; God did not create us for such an existence. (more…)

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On the Significance of the Ritual of the Russian Orthodox Church Surrounding Death and Dying for the Grieving Process of the Bereaved

Posted in Articles, Practical Matters, Theology by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 7 June 2010

Presented at the Pastoral Conference of the  Western American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church

San Francisco, California, 18 March 2008

Imprimatur: † Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America

Introduction

For them that mourn and grieve who look for the consolation of Christ, let us pray to the Lord! (From the Great Litany during the Panikhida or the Requiem Service)

This workshop was designed to be presented to the clergy of the Western American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad during the Spring 2008 Lenten Conference in San Francisco, California.  The purpose of the workshop is to provide the clergy with another tool in their work with grieving parishioners and their families as well as to raise the level of awareness of the stages of the process of grieving and the healing properties of the Church rituals which may be explored in relation to the grieving process.  As Lundquist writes in Ethnic Variations in Dying, Death, and Grief: Diversity in Universality, “death [in the dominant culture of the U.S.] is frequently treated as a taboo topic in conversation” (32).  This cultural conditioning of Orthodox Christians living in the U.S. goes against the millennia-old tradition of the Church Who reminds Her children that death is the ultimate culmination of the earthly life of every human.  The conversation about death, therefore, must be continued and supported within the Church which teaches, “in all you do, remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin” (Sirach 7:36 NRSV).  The participants of the workshop were invited to look at the meaning of Church rituals not only as the expression of Her beliefs concerning the fate of the reposed, but also and primarily, for this exercise, as a pastoral tool in helping the bereaved to transform the period of grieving and loss into a period of spiritual development and gain. (more…)

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The Second Sunday After Pentecost: The Feast of All Saints of Russia

Posted in Sermons by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 4 June 2010

Today, on the second Sunday after Pentecost, we continue to explore the meaning of sanctity in our lives through the examples provided to us by the Church.  The Church guides us in the celebration of the memory of the saints who are the closest to us in culture, and often in time.  The numerous holy princes and peasants, learned and simple, monastics and soldiers, hermits and martyrs, men, women, and children—they are our ancestors and neighbors, parents and children, past and present.  Sanctity in the holy Church of Christ did not end in some long-ago century, but has always persevered, and is set as a standard for our own lives here and now.  Sanctity did not stop with the Apostles, or the Fathers, or even the New Martyrs of Russia, but reveals itself in the lives of the saints here in North America, some of whom many present here can remember personally.  And those who remember, for example, the life of Saint John of San Francisco, know that sanctity is not in spectacular fireworks or drumbeat from the sky, but in taking one’s cross and following Christ (Matt. 10:38). (more…)

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The First Sunday After Pentecost: On Sanctity

Posted in Sermons by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 3 June 2010

Today, on the first Sunday after Pentecost, the Holy Church celebrates the memory of all saints.  Just as Pentecost is not the pouring out of the Holy Spirit two millennia ago on the Apostles only, but on the whole Church—that is to say, on us—now as then; in the same way the Feast of All Saints is not a memorial or a tombstone on the graves of some ancients, but a call to sanctity for us here and now.  And if anyone is dead to this call, if anyone is a stranger to sanctity and considers it to be for someone else, in some other place, and at some other time, he must ask himself whether or not he is in the Church, the living and holy Body of Christ, or whether he is a tree that does not bring forth good fruit (see Matt. 3:10).  But what is sanctity?  And what does it mean to partake of it? (more…)

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Blessed Augustine’s View of Self

Posted in Theology by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 21 May 2010

It has been asserted that Saint Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430) has had enormous influence on the formation of Western thought and Western civilization.  Some, as F.J. Sheed, for example, have even argued for St. Augustine’s “towering importance in the history of mankind” (Augustine 323).  It is not my goal in this paper to examine whether St. Augustine’s importance was indeed towering in the history of all mankind.  Nor do I wish to examine Jasper’s assertion that St. Augustine is “by far the most important hermeneut of the early Christian church”[1] (Jasper 39) from the position of the Eastern Orthodox Church.  Both issues, however, are of utmost importance to our discussion, but the authors’ statements and my implied questions are merely rhetorical.  One fact cannot be denied: St. Augustine indeed played a prominent role in the formation of the Western mind.   

Sheed notes that St. Augustine’s was “the one light that shone steadily” for the seven centuries between St. Augustine’s death and the twelfth century, when “first-rate thinkers were once more in action in the Church” (Augustine 324).  Despite the lack of an obvious reference to the Western Church, the context of Sheed’s remark leads me to believe that he would not challenge a hypothesis that the East was nourished by its own lights, while being somewhat shaded from the rays of St. Augustine’s “enormous intellect” (Augustine 324) by the cultural and ecclesiastical divide between the two parts of the Roman Empire.  Although, even in the West, such theologians as John Scotus Eriugena, whom Sheed apparently considers a second-rate thinker, were studying the Eastern Fathers (Pseudo-Dionysius, Maximus the Confessor, the Cappadocians, and others, in Eriugena’s case), and were not blinded by the illustrious Augustine.  In his discussion on the issue of the filioque, the Irishman apparently was not convinced by the Doctor’s arguments and preferred to search for answers, alas!—self-admittedly, in vain, elsewhere.  

Herein lies the area of my interest: if the East and the West are different (and I choose to presuppose that they are), and if the ecclesiastical, cultural, theological, and even intellectual divides have not been healed, despite centuries of pontifical[2] efforts, then it may be possible to find some early signs, some symptoms of the early stages of the looming Great Divorce, in the persona of St. Augustine of Hippo who “single handed… shifted the center of gravity” for the West (Martindale, qtd. in Augustine 324).  I do not wish to imply that St. Augustine’s work was the sole source of the estrangement between the East and the West—this matter is too complex to be addressed in a short paper.  But if St. Augustine’s influence in the West was as great as it is touted to be, then “cut off from its intellectual sources” in the East (Augustine 324), cut off from the ecclesiastical life within the Grace of concensus patrum, the West may have inherited not only the greatness of Bishop Augustine of Hippo, but also his individuality, peculiarities, oddities, and (ready?!)… flaws (!).  Quite apart from looking for straws in St. Augustine’s eyes—thankless pursuit indeed—I shall embark on a voyage of celebrating some of the differences in his and “the Easterns’” (as Pius IX referred to us in his [in]famous epistle) view of self. (more…)

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Ascension of Our Lord

Posted in Sermons by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 12 May 2010

Russian: http://osergii.wordpress.com/

Today we celebrate one of the twelve great feasts of the Church, the Ascension of our Lord.  This feast, unlike immovable holidays, is directly related to Pascha and Pentecost.  Ascension crowns the celebration of Pascha and prepares us to receive the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

All this time, from Pascha to Pentecost, listening to the words of the Gospel and of church hymns, we as if again and again recall and relive the joy which encompassed the holy apostles.  Forty days from Pascha to Ascension they rejoiced in communion with the risen Savior (Acts 1:3): He came to them (Luke 24:36), stayed with them, ate with them (Luke 24:43), taught them and explained scriptures to them (Luke 24:45).  We also, keeping our paschal joy like the flame of a small candle, feel the Savior’s presence, commune with Him in the sacrament of the Eucharist, listen to the holy scriptures and teachings. (more…)

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The Healing of the Man Born Blind

Posted in Sermons by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 8 May 2010

Русский: Исцеление слепорожденного

Christ is risen!

It is not for much longer that we will hear these marvelous words from the church ambo.  The all-Church celebration of this great solemnity, this salvific work of God is coming to an end.  Together with the angels in heaven, we sang the resurrection of Christ; together with Apostle Thomas, we called out, “My Lord and my God!” having met the Savior; together with the myrrh-bearers, we ran to the empty tomb, carrying our pain, our sadness, our sorrow and received the good news; like the paralytic, we were raised by Christ from the death of sin to pure life; and like the Samaritan woman who left her clay pot by the ancient well and ran to tell the people in the city about the coming of the Messiah, Christ urges us to leave the muddy waters of the worldly and the sinful and drink from the ever-flowing Divine source, leading us into eternal life. (more…)

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On The Parable of the Talents/Minas

Posted in Theology by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 5 May 2010

“He Put Before Them another Parable” (Matt. 13:24)

Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. (Matt. 13:34)

Of all the passages in the Gospels, some of the best known and most often retold are probably the parables of Christ.  The stories of the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, the Rich man and the Beggar Lazarus, the Publican and the Pharisee, the Talents and others have not only given rich homiletic material to preachers from across the full spectrum of Christian denominations, but have served as staples of Christian children’s education for many generations of the faithful and have become part of the collective cultural make up that has shaped the Christian world.

Perhaps due to this assimilation and acculturation of the Parables of Jesus within the Western mindset, many preachers and Sunday school teachers tend to forget the fact that Jesus was not an American televangelist and that his audience did not live in the American Suburbia.   Relatively recently scholars began the colossal work of putting many familiar stories into their proper first-century Palestinian context.  The shear amount of material uncovered by the historical social sciences will be enough for schools of theologians to sift through for years and decades to come.  Yet, as Richard Rohrbaugh writes in his recently published work The New Testament in Cross-Cultural Perspective (2007), very little work specifically on the parables of Christ “has taken into account recent efforts to use the social sciences in New Testament interpretations.  That is certainly the case with the parable of the talents…” (109) (more…)

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