Sunday, May 31, 2020

A Pentecostal blessing ...

This is very good ... and (noting recent discussions here) ecumenical!

Four Images: A Meditation for Pentecost


Bryden Black said...

Indeed, Peter; great stuff from Spankey & Co! For which my thanks for passing it along. And thanks to all the production crew too! Contemplating those Biblical metaphors and their application is surely fruitful. Curiously (providentially?!), I was given a copy of a book recently, which drove home to me a major segment of 20th C church history; and curiously, providentially, re this season of Pentecost, its title is Cry of the Spirit: Christian Testimonies from the Soviet Union (first published in English in 1989, a most auspicious year). It forms a glorious counter-balance to this delightfully produced recording from our local crowd, one I sense we seriously need in our western 21st C church.

The subtitle continues in an important way: “Selected from the Journal Nadezhda by Tatiana Goricheva.” The blurb says that TG, who is a devout Russian Orthodox Christian, lives in Paris, where she’s been involved in Samizdat (Russian: Самизда́т, lit. “self-publishing”). This “was a form of dissident activity across the Eastern Bloc in which individuals reproduced censored and underground makeshift publications, often by hand, and passed the documents from reader to reader.” (Wikipedia!) The Preface and Introduction are longer than is perhaps usual, but we western types need every bit of re-education in the ways of the Holy Spirit among our brothers and sisters of the East during the last century. Not least, as the theology and experience of that entire “other lung of the Body” (JP2) needs to counter-balance our own western history, theology, and experience - generally speaking.

Nadezhda was a title deliberately chosen by its recent editor, Zoya Krakhmalnikova, a convert from communism, as it referenced the original “Christian Reading” journal of the same name. This was published, we are told, by the St Petersburg Religious Academy from 1821-1917, the latter date of course seeing the rise to power of the Bolsheviks, who set in train a terrible persecution of the Church in the USSR throughout its atheistic history. Each edition of Nadezhda had three sections, headed “Tradition”, “Church Fathers”, and concluding with “contemporary matters”. In which light, the Preface states:

“Tradition and the present-day are the icons of Church experience. In the icon there is no shadow: light comes from an invisible celestial source and extends softly over the whole surface of the image. In an icon even hell is filled with light: to paint an icon there is no need for "negative" black lines and areas. So too is the life of Christ, which proceeds from strength to strength, from light to light, from abundance to abundance, and which seeks to avoid the "negation of negation", the swing between love and hate, between boredom and diversion. Only love "never faileth" (1 Cor. 13:8). It unites all affirming forces and transfigures all negative ones.” (p.13)

The six selections of Cry of the Spirit are all from the last section of Nadezhda. A number of letters from four exiled priests and bishops (from 1920s-30s; we don’t know the exact details of the writers or their recipients), form the heart of the book, chs 2-5. These are framed, firstly, by an account from a Muscovite, Prof Sheviryov, professor of literature and a poet, visiting a semi-deserted, half-ruined monastery in late 1950s, which had been turned into a lunatic asylum during Stalin’s time, then closing off with a sermon from the starets, Tavrion (1898-1978), in which he declares, “Our world is such that a believer is hardly accepted as normal. If he cannot be dissuaded from his faith, he is put into a mental asylum”.

Bryden Black said...

cont ...

May these testimonies of the Spirit from last century Russia, which echo forcibly the tenor of parts of Jesus’ Upper Room Discourses, John 13-17, also enrich our contemplation of this liturgical Pentecostal season. After all, the Divine Liturgy (our western “Eucharist”, but now with its own [richer?!] sensibilities generated by precisely the Eastern awareness of the Rite) is mentioned again and again as the source of their Christian faith and strength amidst the horrors of Soviet life. For surely its performance for those who participate in it is viewed as the very descent of eternity into their contemporary world, which is otherwise mostly arid and dark. Yet the beauty of the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world comes to all Christian worshippers, whether present in a church building or confined in the gulag—such is the Glory of the Lord of the Gospel of Peace, which grants us fellowship (κοινωνία) with the Father and with the Son, whose fruit is the fulness of joy (1 Jn 1:1-4).

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bryden
What an amazing book!
Pentecost for me this year was a moving reconnection with liturgy in the flesh (after a wonderful Zoom season - but virtual reality is not as rich-fulsome as real reality).
I really like your last sentence.

Father Ron said...

Thank you Spanky Moore - and Bishop Peter - for giving us this beautiful representation of what the Holy Spirit has meant in the lives of different people involved in the ministry of the Church here in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

When people tend to put down the experiential aspect of spirituality I can only respond that; unless one actually experiences the work of the Holy Spirit in one's own life, one may not be able to fully understand how God is working in our human lives, in the past, the present and the future.

One of my experiences was that of knowing that, despite my innate 'gay' nature - intrinsic to me, personally - God actually loved me and wanted me to celebrate who I was in the here and now of this world! This discovery was made through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in my life through years of charismatic renewal. I eventually found myself, as a successful manager in the travel industry, longing to offer my life to God in ministry. Having been turned down by CACTM in the U.K. years before, I was reluctant to offer my self, here in N.Z., for training for the priesthood, so I then became a Franciscan Brother. In three years in that community I learned to listen to, and obey, what God really wanted of me

During my time with SSF in Australia, I attended a joint Anglican/Catholic Charismatic Conference in Sydney, where, at a Mass celebrated by Roman Catholic bishops (including a cardinal) we were held in Silence for a full minute - before erupting into an extended time of 'Singing in The Spirit'. It seemed, during those few moment - as our Retreat Conductor said afterwards - we were experiencing the consolation of Heaven itself. Such moments are golden. This and other experinces led me eventually into offering myself and training for priesthood in the Auckland Diocese.

Then, though I knew I would be incapable of generating children, marriage became a distinct possibility for me. Meeting with a widow with young children in need of the fullness of a family, it did not take long. After a period of prayer and discernment for us both, Diana and I were married - thus giving me a loving environment for the ministry Diana and I have together undertaken for the last 37 years (completed tomorrow on the Feast of Saint Barnabas, swhen I will be privi9leged to preside at a simple Mass at SMAA, Christchurch).

"Come, Holy spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful with the Fire of your love, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. AMEN!"

Anonymous said...

Father Ron--


Father Ron said...

Thank you, Dear Brother BW for these heavenly sounds Blessings!