Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov

Random Quotes from an Unpublished Paper: Part 2

Posted in D.Min. Study Notes by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 19 August 2015

These are random quotes from an unpublished paper. I will post more quotes from the same paper every few days during the Dormition Fast (Old Calendar). 

I will use the word ‘mankind’ throughout to refer to all humans, both male and female. I will also use ‘man’ and ‘he’ to mean ‘human’ and ‘he/she.’ I do not do this from a position of male chauvinism–my writings on the equality of males and females in Christ speak for themselves. I do this out of concern that linguistic acrobatics may distract from the main points of the study. My Greek professor once told a joke. Someone noticed that there was ‘man’ in the word ‘woman,’ so they decided to change it to ‘woperson.’ But then someone noticed that there was ‘son’ in ‘person,’ and so the word was changed to ‘woperchild.’ My goal here is to no longer be distracted by whether the words ‘wo-man,’ ‘fe-male,’ or ‘s-he’ are inherently offensive and how they can be changed, but instead to focus on the main points of our study.

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Saint Irenaeus of Lyon wrote: “God formed Adam, not as if He stood in need of man, but so that He might have [someone] upon whom to confer His benefits.” Surely, these “benefits” are not gold, or material possessions, or entertainment, but communion with God Himself and the participation in His divine life.

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Communion with God, so intimate that man becomes the Body of Christ, is the essence of the Eucharist. Fagerberg goes even further in claiming that Saint Ephrem describes the story of Eden as a liturgical story:

“God expelled us from the environs of the tree of life lest we be eternally disfigured. Do not think we were expelled from Paradise because God was jealous of divinity and would not share it with anthropos. The Christian narrative is not the myth of Prometheus. The expulsion was on account of man and woman’s untimely grasping at that for which they were not prepared. The sin was not that man and woman took something which God never intended them to have; the sin was that the serpent convinced them to take it prematurely.

He deceived the husbandman

so that he plucked prematurely

the fruit which gives forth its sweetness

only in due season

— a fruit that, out of season,

proves bitter to him who plucks it.”

Paradise, and all that was within it, and the creation in which it sat had the purpose of both preparing man for the reception of God’s divine Gift and offering it to him in due time. This is also a liturgical model: the Liturgy both prepares man for the reception of God’s divine Gift and offers it to him in due time. But the Gift stolen without the process of “tilling and keeping” one’s heart is truly bitter: “Then after the morsel [given to him by Jesus], Satan entered into [Judas Iscariot]” (John 13:27).

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The intersection of God’s free self-sacrificial act of love for man  and man’s equally free self-sacrificial act of love for God constitutes the Liturgical sacrament. Elsewhere, I have written about a distinction between miracles, works of man, and sacraments. When God acts alone, it is a miracle; when man acts alone, it is a work of man; when the wills and acts of God and man intersect, it is a sacrament.

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