Category Archives: Book Reviews

Books reviewed by OPF/IC

Recommended Reading – Summer 2006

In Communion / issue 42 / Summer 2006

Recommended Reading

Silence and Honey Cakes

by Rowan Williams

Lion Hudson, 125 pp, €7

ISBN 0745951708

Once known mainly in the Orthodox Church, the desert saints of the early church are increasingly being discovered by Christians in the West.

Helen Waddell’s classic, The Desert Fathers, published in 1936, was perhaps the first book on the subject to reach a wide ecumenical readership.

Four decades ago, there was Thomas Merton’s still popular collection of “words” of the desert monks: Wisdom of the Desert.

Over the past thirty years Sr. Benedicta Ward has published English translations of the principal collections that come down to us from the early centuries of desert monasticism.

Now there is this fine new addition by Rowan Williams: Silence and Honey Cakes.

Williams begins with one of the sayings of St. Anthony the Great, : “Our life and our death is with our neighbor. If we win our brother, we win God. If we cause our brother to stumble, we have sinned against God.”

It is advice, as Williams points out, that comes from the heart of the primitive monastic witness – “the impossibility,” as he says, “of thinking about contemplation or meditation or ‘spiritual life’ in abstraction from the actual business of living in the Body of Christ, living in concrete community….

“The desert monastics have an uncompromising message for us: a relationship with eternal truth and love simply doesn’t happen unless we mend our relations with Tom, Dick and Harriet.”

One need not be a monk or feel a call to desolate places to find these meditations on wilderness voices become an oasis in the desert of modern life.

Christ at Work:

Orthodox Christian Perspectives on Vocation

edited by Ann Mitsakos Bezzerides

Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 230 pp, $20

ISBN 1885652879

It is a common task for teenage students to be asked to write a paper on their future “careers.” The English word “career,” if you check your dictionary, has its roots in the Latin word carrus, a kind of Gallic wagon. Interesting. A career is indeed a kind of wagon that we purchase with our education and hope will provide not only for our future economic needs but also give us some actual satisfaction, though in fact oftentimes the chosen career turns out to be a this-life experience of purgatory. The money may come, but there is often very little real satisfaction or sense of being blessed.

“Vocation” is a word that also has a Latin root: vox, voice. The voice referred to in this case is God’s. To have a sense of vocation means to be continually exploring in the theater of one’s own life what God has in mind for each of us.

One of the book’s author, Deborah Malacky Belonick, sees Mary as a primary image of vocation. “Though not called to be the mother of God,” she writes, “we are called to a life that is lived in relation to God, a life that is hidden with Christ in God.”

For Paul Meyendorff, the recovery of a sense of vocation is the recovery of the priesthood of all believers. Christianity sees priesthood not only in terns of the few who are called to preside at the altar. It refers to a vocation belonging to all baptized people: “to offer sacrifices and to serve as the intermediary between God and humanity.”

Thus he writes: “We are called to live out our priesthood in day to day life” for it is precisely in the world and not only ion church that “the priestly role of the laity is most important.”

Among the Dead Cities

by A.C. Grayling

Bloomsbury, 384 pp, €20

ISBN 0747576718

The book’s subtitle is “Was the Allied Bombing of Civilians in WWII a Necessity or a Crime?” While looking closely at the arguments pro and con, the author (professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London) concludes that the massive intentional bombing of civilians was indeed a war crime.

The Allied bombing of Axis cities made smoking ruins of Dresden, Nuremberg, Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. Grayling concentrates on Britain’s “area bombing” of entire German cities, a strategy adopted initially because bombers couldn’t hit smaller sites, and then continued as a deliberate attack. Grayling carefully considers the justifications for area bombing (it would shorten the conflict by destroying Germany’s economy, it would undermine civilian morale, civilian workers were also combatants, etc.) and finds each of them wanting. British bombing, he finds, in fact did little damage to the German war effort while in the process killing and maiming vast numbers of people. In contrast, American pinpoint bombing of industrial and military targets succeeded in paralyzing the German economy with few civilian casualties, yet in the last months of the war American also resorted to area bombing in its devastating air campaign against Japanese cities.

Grayling is thorough in his research and provides the reader with a flowing, lucid narrative. Drawing on firsthand accounts by professional soldiers, strategists, architects, victims and opponents of area bombing, he places historical data within a rigorous philosophical framework. Black-and-white photos show the effects of the campaign.

In the book’s final section, Grayling laments the failure of Allied airmen to refuse to obey orders to bomb civilian targets.

On Human Being: Spiritual Anthropology

by Olivier Clment

New City Press, 155 pp, $15

ISBN 1565481437

Rooted in the experience and writings of the early Christian centuries, Olivier Clment (professor of patristic studies at St. Serge Theological Institute in Paris) reflects on human nature, its challenges, its wounded nature, its joys and fulfillments.

He begins by exploring a response to the dysfunctional aspects of human nature, and then looks at how we are persons made in the image of the divine and in communion with one another. In the light of what emerges, the author discovers fresh understandings of sexuality, politics, the role of humanity in the cosmos and the power of beauty.

Clment challenges all Christians not only to be open to the treasures of the Orthodox Christian East but also to recover these traditions, which Clment expresses in existential terms, and through them enrich and revitalize Christianity in the West.

“Before love is even mentioned, the first thing is humility, and what humility becomes when it is exercised towards another person is respect,” Clment writes in the chapter “Persons in Communion.” The author’s own humility, no less than his respect for the reader, illuminates each page.

Denys the Areopagite

by Andrew Louth

Continuum, 133 pp, $30

ISBN 082645772X

The writings of Denys – or Dionysius – the Areopagite (his actual identity remains a mystery) appeared in the sixth century and ever since have been deeply influential on Christian thinking in both East and West. Fr. Andrew Louth examines all the traditions on which Denys’s work draws: the fourth century Greek theologians, pagan philosophy and Syrian Christian thought. He also documents and comments on Denys’s compelling vision of the beauty of God’s world and his revelation, together with his profound awareness of the ultimate mystery of the unknowable God who utterly transcends all being.

Fr Alexander provides valuable insights into the thought of a mystical theologian whose insights played a major role in the development of liturgical theology. The voice of Denys remains as fresh today as when he was putting pen to paper fifteen hundred years ago.

Encounter

by Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Darton Longman & Todd, 317 pp, €10

ISBN 0232526001

Until his death three years ago, the late Metropolitan Anthony not only led the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain, but for many years was one of the most persuasive Christian voices of the late twentieth century. Via his weekly BBC Russian Service broadcasts, he was the most important spokesman for Christianity in what was then the Soviet Union. His books on prayer, in numerous translations, continue to be widely read by Christians of many traditions.

Encounter between God and man, person and person, is the golden thread running through this collection of essays, sermons and interviews. “If you examine the Gospels anew,” he writes, “if you read them with new eyes, if you look at how they are constructed, you will see that apart from encounter there is nothing else in the Gospels. Every tale in an encounter.”

Meeting Metropolitan Anthony was an unforgettable encounter for all who had the good fortune to do so. He is one of those rare people whose presence, faith and wisdom survive in the printed word. This makes his few books an important part of any library, large or small.

Books – Summer 2006

In Communion / issue 42 / Summer 2006

Recommended Reading

Christ at Work:

Orthodox Christian Perspectives on Vocation

edited by Ann Mitsakos Bezzerides

Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 230 pp, $20

ISBN 1885652879

It is a common task for teenage students to be asked to write a paper on their future “careers.” The English word “career,” if you check your dictionary, has its roots in the Latin word carrus, a kind of Gallic wagon. Interesting. A career is indeed a kind of wagon that we purchase with our education and hope will provide not only for our future economic needs but also give us some actual satisfaction, though in fact oftentimes the chosen career turns out to be a this-life experience of purgatory. The money may come, but there is often very little real satisfaction or sense of being blessed.

“Vocation” is a word that also has a Latin root: vox, voice. The voice referred to in this case is God’s. To have a sense of vocation means to be continually exploring in the theater of one’s own life what God has in mind for each of us.

One of the book’s author, Deborah Malacky Belonick, sees Mary as a primary image of vocation. “Though not called to be the mother of God,” she writes, “we are called to a life that is lived in relation to God, a life that is hidden with Christ in God.”

For Paul Meyendorff, the recovery of a sense of vocation is the recovery of the priesthood of all believers. Christianity sees priesthood not only in terns of the few who are called to preside at the altar. It refers to a vocation belonging to all baptized people: “to offer sacrifices and to serve as the intermediary between God and humanity.”

Thus he writes: “We are called to live out our priesthood in day to day life” for it is precisely in the world and not only ion church that “the priestly role of the laity is most important.”

Among the Dead Cities

by A.C. Grayling

Bloomsbury, 384 pp, €20

ISBN 0747576718

The book’s subtitle is “Was the Allied Bombing of Civilians in WWII a Necessity or a Crime?” While looking closely at the arguments pro and con, the author (professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London) concludes that the massive intentional bombing of civilians was indeed a war crime.

The Allied bombing of Axis cities made smoking ruins of Dresden, Nuremberg, Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. Grayling concentrates on Britain’s “area bombing” of entire German cities, a strategy adopted initially because bombers couldn’t hit smaller sites, and then continued as a deliberate attack. Grayling carefully considers the justifications for area bombing (it would shorten the conflict by destroying Germany’s economy, it would undermine civilian morale, civilian workers were also combatants, etc.) and finds each of them wanting. British bombing, he finds, in fact did little damage to the German war effort while in the process killing and maiming vast numbers of people. In contrast, American pinpoint bombing of industrial and military targets succeeded in paralyzing the German economy with few civilian casualties, yet in the last months of the war American also resorted to area bombing in its devastating air campaign against Japanese cities.

Grayling is thorough in his research and provides the reader with a flowing, lucid narrative. Drawing on firsthand accounts by professional soldiers, strategists, architects, victims and opponents of area bombing, he places historical data within a rigorous philosophical framework. Black-and-white photos show the effects of the campaign.

In the book’s final section, Grayling laments the failure of Allied airmen to refuse to obey orders to bomb civilian targets.

On Human Being: Spiritual Anthropology

by Olivier Clment

New City Press, 155 pp, $15

ISBN 1565481437

Rooted in the experience and writings of the early Christian centuries, Olivier Clment (professor of patristic studies at St. Serge Theological Institute in Paris) reflects on human nature, its challenges, its wounded nature, its joys and fulfillments.

He begins by exploring a response to the dysfunctional aspects of human nature, and then looks at how we are persons made in the image of the divine and in communion with one another. In the light of what emerges, the author discovers fresh understandings of sexuality, politics, the role of humanity in the cosmos and the power of beauty.

Clment challenges all Christians not only to be open to the treasures of the Orthodox Christian East but also to recover these traditions, which Clment expresses in existential terms, and through them enrich and revitalize Christianity in the West.

“Before love is even mentioned, the first thing is humility, and what humility becomes when it is exercised towards another person is respect,” Clment writes in the chapter “Persons in Communion.” The author’s own humility, no less than his respect for the reader, illuminates each page.

Denys the Areopagite

by Andrew Louth

Continuum, 133 pp, $30

ISBN 082645772X

The writings of Denys – or Dionysius – the Areopagite (his actual identity remains a mystery) appeared in the sixth century and ever since have been deeply influential on Christian thinking in both East and West. Fr. Andrew Louth examines all the traditions on which Denys’s work draws: the fourth century Greek theologians, pagan philosophy and Syrian Christian thought. He also documents and comments on Denys’s compelling vision of the beauty of God’s world and his revelation, together with his profound awareness of the ultimate mystery of the unknowable God who utterly transcends all being.

Fr Alexander provides valuable insights into the thought of a mystical theologian whose insights played a major role in the development of liturgical theology. The voice of Denys remains as fresh today as when he was putting pen to paper fifteen hundred years ago.

Encounter

by Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Darton Longman & Todd, 317 pp, €10

ISBN 0232526001

Until his death three years ago, the late Metropolitan Anthony not only led the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain, but for many years was one of the most persuasive Christian voices of the late twentieth century. Via his weekly BBC Russian Service broadcasts, he was the most important spokesman for Christianity in what was then the Soviet Union. His books on prayer, in numerous translations, continue to be widely read by Christians of many traditions.

Encounter between God and man, person and person, is the golden thread running through this collection of essays, sermons and interviews. “If you examine the Gospels anew,” he writes, “if you read them with new eyes, if you look at how they are constructed, you will see that apart from encounter there is nothing else in the Gospels. Every tale in an encounter.”

Meeting Metropolitan Anthony was an unforgettable encounter for all who had the good fortune to do so. He is one of those rare people whose presence, faith and wisdom survive in the printed word. This makes his few books an important part of any library, large or small.

Silence and Honey Cakes

by Rowan Williams

Lion Hudson, 125 pp, €7

ISBN 0745951708

Once known mainly in the Orthodox Church, the desert saints of the early church are increasingly being discovered by Christians in the West.

Helen Waddell’s classic, The Desert Fathers, published in 1936, was perhaps the first book on the subject to reach a wide ecumenical readership.

Four decades ago, there was Thomas Merton’s still popular collection of “words” of the desert monks: Wisdom of the Desert.

Over the past thirty years Sr. Benedicta Ward has published English translations of the principal collections that come down to us from the early centuries of desert monasticism.

Now there is this fine new addition by Rowan Williams: Silence and Honey Cakes.

Williams begins with one of the sayings of St. Anthony the Great, : “Our life and our death is with our neighbor. If we win our brother, we win God. If we cause our brother to stumble, we have sinned against God.”

It is advice, as Williams points out, that comes from the heart of the primitive monastic witness – “the impossibility,” as he says, “of thinking about contemplation or meditation or ‘spiritual life’ in abstraction from the actual business of living in the Body of Christ, living in concrete community….

“The desert monastics have an uncompromising message for us: a relationship with eternal truth and love simply doesn’t happen unless we mend our relations with Tom, Dick and Harriet.”

One need not be a monk or feel a call to desolate places to find these meditations on wilderness voices become an oasis in the desert of modern life.

[end]

Books – Summer 2006

In Communion / issue 42 / Summer 2006

Recommended Reading

Christ at Work:

Orthodox Christian Perspectives on Vocation

edited by Ann Mitsakos Bezzerides

Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 230 pp, $20

ISBN 1885652879

It is a common task for teenage students to be asked to write a paper on their future “careers.” The English word “career,” if you check your dictionary, has its roots in the Latin word carrus, a kind of Gallic wagon. Interesting. A career is indeed a kind of wagon that we purchase with our education and hope will provide not only for our future economic needs but also give us some actual satisfaction, though in fact oftentimes the chosen career turns out to be a this-life experience of purgatory. The money may come, but there is often very little real satisfaction or sense of being blessed.

“Vocation” is a word that also has a Latin root: vox, voice. The voice referred to in this case is God’s. To have a sense of vocation means to be continually exploring in the theater of one’s own life what God has in mind for each of us.

One of the book’s author, Deborah Malacky Belonick, sees Mary as a primary image of vocation. “Though not called to be the mother of God,” she writes, “we are called to a life that is lived in relation to God, a life that is hidden with Christ in God.”

For Paul Meyendorff, the recovery of a sense of vocation is the recovery of the priesthood of all believers. Christianity sees priesthood not only in terns of the few who are called to preside at the altar. It refers to a vocation belonging to all baptized people: “to offer sacrifices and to serve as the intermediary between God and humanity.”

Thus he writes: “We are called to live out our priesthood in day to day life” for it is precisely in the world and not only ion church that “the priestly role of the laity is most important.”

Among the Dead Cities

by A.C. Grayling

Bloomsbury, 384 pp, €20

ISBN 0747576718

The book’s subtitle is “Was the Allied Bombing of Civilians in WWII a Necessity or a Crime?” While looking closely at the arguments pro and con, the author (professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London) concludes that the massive intentional bombing of civilians was indeed a war crime.

The Allied bombing of Axis cities made smoking ruins of Dresden, Nuremberg, Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. Grayling concentrates on Britain’s “area bombing” of entire German cities, a strategy adopted initially because bombers couldn’t hit smaller sites, and then continued as a deliberate attack. Grayling carefully considers the justifications for area bombing (it would shorten the conflict by destroying Germany’s economy, it would undermine civilian morale, civilian workers were also combatants, etc.) and finds each of them wanting. British bombing, he finds, in fact did little damage to the German war effort while in the process killing and maiming vast numbers of people. In contrast, American pinpoint bombing of industrial and military targets succeeded in paralyzing the German economy with few civilian casualties, yet in the last months of the war American also resorted to area bombing in its devastating air campaign against Japanese cities.

Grayling is thorough in his research and provides the reader with a flowing, lucid narrative. Drawing on firsthand accounts by professional soldiers, strategists, architects, victims and opponents of area bombing, he places historical data within a rigorous philosophical framework. Black-and-white photos show the effects of the campaign.

In the book’s final section, Grayling laments the failure of Allied airmen to refuse to obey orders to bomb civilian targets.

On Human Being: Spiritual Anthropology

by Olivier Clment

New City Press, 155 pp, $15

ISBN 1565481437

Rooted in the experience and writings of the early Christian centuries, Olivier Clment (professor of patristic studies at St. Serge Theological Institute in Paris) reflects on human nature, its challenges, its wounded nature, its joys and fulfillments.

He begins by exploring a response to the dysfunctional aspects of human nature, and then looks at how we are persons made in the image of the divine and in communion with one another. In the light of what emerges, the author discovers fresh understandings of sexuality, politics, the role of humanity in the cosmos and the power of beauty.

Clment challenges all Christians not only to be open to the treasures of the Orthodox Christian East but also to recover these traditions, which Clment expresses in existential terms, and through them enrich and revitalize Christianity in the West.

“Before love is even mentioned, the first thing is humility, and what humility becomes when it is exercised towards another person is respect,” Clment writes in the chapter “Persons in Communion.” The author’s own humility, no less than his respect for the reader, illuminates each page.

Denys the Areopagite

by Andrew Louth

Continuum, 133 pp, $30

ISBN 082645772X

The writings of Denys – or Dionysius – the Areopagite (his actual identity remains a mystery) appeared in the sixth century and ever since have been deeply influential on Christian thinking in both East and West. Fr. Andrew Louth examines all the traditions on which Denys’s work draws: the fourth century Greek theologians, pagan philosophy and Syrian Christian thought. He also documents and comments on Denys’s compelling vision of the beauty of God’s world and his revelation, together with his profound awareness of the ultimate mystery of the unknowable God who utterly transcends all being.

Fr Alexander provides valuable insights into the thought of a mystical theologian whose insights played a major role in the development of liturgical theology. The voice of Denys remains as fresh today as when he was putting pen to paper fifteen hundred years ago.

Encounter

by Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Darton Longman & Todd, 317 pp, €10

ISBN 0232526001

Until his death three years ago, the late Metropolitan Anthony not only led the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain, but for many years was one of the most persuasive Christian voices of the late twentieth century. Via his weekly BBC Russian Service broadcasts, he was the most important spokesman for Christianity in what was then the Soviet Union. His books on prayer, in numerous translations, continue to be widely read by Christians of many traditions.

Encounter between God and man, person and person, is the golden thread running through this collection of essays, sermons and interviews. “If you examine the Gospels anew,” he writes, “if you read them with new eyes, if you look at how they are constructed, you will see that apart from encounter there is nothing else in the Gospels. Every tale in an encounter.”

Meeting Metropolitan Anthony was an unforgettable encounter for all who had the good fortune to do so. He is one of those rare people whose presence, faith and wisdom survive in the printed word. This makes his few books an important part of any library, large or small.

Silence and Honey Cakes

by Rowan Williams

Lion Hudson, 125 pp, €7

ISBN 0745951708

Once known mainly in the Orthodox Church, the desert saints of the early church are increasingly being discovered by Christians in the West.

Helen Waddell’s classic, The Desert Fathers, published in 1936, was perhaps the first book on the subject to reach a wide ecumenical readership.

Four decades ago, there was Thomas Merton’s still popular collection of “words” of the desert monks: Wisdom of the Desert.

Over the past thirty years Sr. Benedicta Ward has published English translations of the principal collections that come down to us from the early centuries of desert monasticism.

Now there is this fine new addition by Rowan Williams: Silence and Honey Cakes.

Williams begins with one of the sayings of St. Anthony the Great, : “Our life and our death is with our neighbor. If we win our brother, we win God. If we cause our brother to stumble, we have sinned against God.”

It is advice, as Williams points out, that comes from the heart of the primitive monastic witness – “the impossibility,” as he says, “of thinking about contemplation or meditation or ‘spiritual life’ in abstraction from the actual business of living in the Body of Christ, living in concrete community….

“The desert monastics have an uncompromising message for us: a relationship with eternal truth and love simply doesn’t happen unless we mend our relations with Tom, Dick and Harriet.”

One need not be a monk or feel a call to desolate places to find these meditations on wilderness voices become an oasis in the desert of modern life.

[end]

Recommended Reading – Fall 2005

Orthodoxy for the Non-Orthodox

by John Garvey

Templegate, 136 pp, $12

Death and the Rest of Our Life

by John Garvey

Wm. B. Eerdmans, 96 pp, $10

The person who wants a concise yet lively introduction to Orthodox Christianity would be hard-pressed to find a better starting point than Orthodoxy for the Non-Orthodox. Fr. John Garvey explains the differences between the Eastern and Western churches (as well as their shared teachings), a summary of Orthodox belief, a description of the Orthodox liturgy and the feasts of the church, an introduction to Orthodox spirituality, and a survey of some questions facing Orthodoxy in the contemporary world.

Convinced that our beliefs about death should inform every aspect of our lives until death, Fr. Garvey reflects on the meaning of death and its aftermath in Death And The Rest Of Our Life.

He argues that the common view of the soul being released from its “imprisonment” in the body is not Orthodox Christian teaching. The Christian affirmation of the resurrected and transformed body, he reminds us, is an essential part of the truth about death’s real depths and about what life is finally meant to be.

Incorporating stories from the author’s own family life and experience as a parish priest, this book will be of particular help to people recently bereaved and those who work with the bereaved.

Our Church and Our Children

by Sophie Koulomzin

St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press

169 pp, $16

Sophie Koulomzin was an Orthodox Christian laywoman, teacher, mother and grandmother and also taught Religious Education at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. She was also among the founders of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship. Our Church And Our Children, first published in 1975, is a classic work of foundational wisdom for Christian parents and educators, now updated with a new foreword and study guide by Ann Mitsakos Bezzerides.

The book is peppered with engaging anecdotes from her half-century of experience working with children in the Church. For Koulomzin, recognizing that children are full members of the Church was of upmost importance, and her life’s vocation was encouraging others to see this.

Topics addressed include: the task of Christian education, developmental stages of children, Christian education in the family, the challenges and opportunities of the church school, and a vision and goals for the Christian teacher. Included in the re-release are a foreword, which gives a glimpse into her incredible personal life, a bibliography, and a chapter-by-chapter study guide.

St. Macarius The Spirit Bearer

translated by Tim Vivian

St. Vladimir’s Press, 216 pp, $16

Four Desert Fathers

translated by Tim Vivian

St. Vladimir’s Press, 202 pp, $15

Macarius the Great (also referred to as Macarius of Egypt) presided over a loosely knit scattering of ascetic monastic communities in the fourth century Egyptian desert. He enjoyed great respect during his lifetime and his fame was further spread after appearing in Palladius’s Lausiac History. This volume presents three ancient texts (The Sayings of Saint Macarius, The Virtues of Saint Macarius and The Life of Saint Macarius of Scetis) and provides valuable insight into the world of Coptic spirituality and early Egyptian asceticism.

Pambo, Evagrius, Macarius of Egypt and Macarius of Alexandria, the four fathers presented in the companion volume, were well-known in Alexandria and Lower Egypt some 1600 years ago. Their lives provide valuable insight into the Egyptian monastic communities of the fourth century and into the saintly tradition of the Coptic Church.

When You Fast:

Recipes for Lenten Seasons

by Catherine Mandell

St. Vladimir’s Press, 264 pp, $20

This attractive and helpful book was born out of the author’s nearly decade-long quest to attain a rule of fasting for her family in accordance with the traditional Orthodox Christian discipline. Her goal was not only abstention from meat during lenten seasons, but also abstention from dairy products, and from oils on the strictest of fast days. The resultant 200 recipes provide a variety of easy, nourishing, and appealing meals. Sprinkled among the delicious recipes are sayings from the Mothers and Fathers of the early Church regarding how the body and soul are affected by eating habits – pithy illuminations to accompany the appetizing recipes.

The Passion of Christ

by Vaselin Kesich

St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 92 pp, $11

The passion narrative is at the heart of Christianity and the suffering and death of Christ on the cross takes a central role in any discussions between Christians and non-Christians. The 2004 film Passion of the Christ provoked strong reactions from Christians and non-Christians alike, running the gamut from alarm and repulsion at the violence to genuine religious experience. The film also brought to the fore discussions of the importance of the Cross to Christianity and the perceived anti-Semitism of the Gospels. Professor Kesich addresses both of these issues in this re-release of his 1965 edition. He expertly addresses questions of anti-Semitism and the family quarrels between Jews and Christians in the historical context as well as explaining the trial of Jesus and the purpose his suffering.

Speaking the Truth in Love

by Thomas Hopko

St. Vladimir’s Press, 176 pp, $16

These collected lectures on education, mission, and witness, all written during the author’s decade as dean of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, deal with what it means for Orthodox Christians to speak and to act in a loving manner in societal and ecclesiastical settings. Especially relevant are his remarks regarding education and spiritual formation in Orthodox theological schools; his historical background regarding the formation of Orthodox seminaries in the United States is enlightening.

In an effort to dispel misconceptions, he also presents readers with an insightful view of Orthodox participation in ecumenical activities. Additionally, he comments on the relationship between clergy and laity and makes some pertinent observations about the challenges to the Church in post-modern and post-communist societies.

The thread holding these essays together is St. Paul’s admonition to “speak the truth in love” and to “grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ.”

The Nicene Faith

by John Behr

St. Vladimir’s Press

502 pp, $30

In this two-volume sequel to The Way to Nicaea, Fr. John Behr turns his attention to the fourth century, the era in which Christian theology was formulated as the Nicene faith, the common heritage of most Christians to this day. Engaging the best of modern scholarship, Behr provides a series of original, comprehensive, and insightful sketches of the theology of the key protagonists of the Nicene faith, presenting a powerful vision of Christian theology, centered upon Christ and his Passion.

Part One, “True God of True God,” opens with a reflection on the nature of Christian theology, challenging common presuppositions, and an analysis and survey of the fourth- century controversies, followed by studies of Alexander, Arius, the Council of Nicaea, and, Athanasius.

Part Two, “One of the Holy Trinity,” provides analyses of the work of Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa, together with their opponents, in particular Eunomius and Apollinarius.

Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy

by John McGuckin

St. Vladimir’s Press

430 pp, $23

The Christological Controversy describes the turmoil of fifth-century Christianity seeking to articulate its beliefs on the person of Christ. The policies of the Theodosian dynasty and the conflicting interests of the patriarchal sees are the context of the controversy between Nestorius of Constantinople and Cyril of Alexandria, a bitter dispute that racked the entire oecumene.

The historical analysis expounds on the arguments of both sides, particularly the Christology of Cyril, which was adopted as a standard.

Recommended Resources – Summer 2005

The Return of the Icon

an 85-minute film produced by Bill Smith

In the summer of 2004 the icon of the Tikhvin Mother of God, one of the several icons attributed to the hand of St. Luke, was returned to Russia after nearly 60 years in the United States.

The story begins in a Chicago house and ends in at the monastery at Tikhvin, east of St. Petersburg. The film includes wartime footage in its explanation of the extraordinary events which lead to the icon’s miraculous escape from both the Nazis and the Soviets. Moving footage provides a vivid glimpse into the revival of Orthodoxy in Russia and Latvia. It is especially impressive to see the hundreds of thousands of people processing with the Tikhvin icon down Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg.

The film is available in both DVD and VHS formats for €20, including postage and packing. Contact: Bill and Masha Smith, Great Takes TV, The Old Rectory, Church Road, Wreningham, Norwich NR16 1BA, UK; [email protected] (In North America: Dr. Constantine Kallaur, 108 Oakwood Drive, Syosset, New York 11791; [email protected])

Salt of the Earth

a film about Palestinian Christians in the West Bank

“Salt of the Earth” documents the lives of Palestinian Christians living in the northern West Bank. This skillfully made DVD is the work Marthame and Elizabeth Sanders, Americans who lived for three years in the mainly Christian Palestinian village of Zababdeh.

One of the nine segments focuses on an Orthodox priest, Fr. To’mie Daoud. First we meet him as he presides at the Divine Liturgy and then meets with the minority Christian community in Tubas. The next day he prays with the “living stones” of the ancient church of Burqin, while on the next he serves in his home town of Zababdeh.

The film can be ordered via www.saltfilms.net.

The Trial of Job

By Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon

Conciliar Press, $11

The figure of Job is elusive to us – possibly because he seems so comfortably distant; or perhaps because he seems so frightfully close. What Fr. Reardon achieves with this book is to render Job comprehensible, tangible and accessible. Ultimately, all of us identify with one or another aspect of Job’s life. As life inevitably informs and as this book intuitively confirms, one cannot sing the Psalms without having read Job.

– Fr. John Chryssavgis

Tending the Flame of Feminine Holiness by Demetra Velisarios Jaquet

The author’s study draws on data collected from a conference of 80 Orthodox women held last year. Attendees supported the restoration of the Order of Deaconess and urged hierarchs and clergy to support women in emerging ministries such as chaplains and pastoral counseling. The author reviews the recommendations of twelve conferences held in Europe since 1976; she summarizes Orthodox theological arguments regarding ordination and women’s roles in lay ministry; and offers guidelines for women’s ministries.

The full text is available electronically without charge and can be requested by e-mailing: [email protected]

Good Reading

Mother Maria Skobtsova: Essential Writings

Orbis Books, 2003, pp 192, $15

ISBN: 1-57075-436-5

edited by Helene Klepinin-Arjakovsky

preface by Olivier Clement, introduction by Jim Forest

Many know the life of Mother Maria thanks to Fr. Serge Hackel’s biography, Pearl of Great Price. Now at last there is a collection in English of some of her the principal essays.

Mother Maria was the first woman to study at the theological academy in Saint Petersburg. She was also a poet of note as well as an artist. Some of her pen drawings are used to illustrate this book. Like so many Russians, the revolution made her a refugee. She finally settled in Paris. Following the death of one of her children, she became a nun but living in the world rather than apart from it. Her life became a ceaseless act of hospitality. During the German occupation, the relentless efforts she and her co-workers made to save Jews and others in danger resulted finally in her arrest and martyrdom.

“Man ought to treat the body of his fellow human beings with more care than he treats his own,” she wrote. “Christian love teaches us to give our fellows material as well as spiritual gifts. We should give them our last shirt and our last piece of bread. Personal almsgiving and the most wide-ranging social work are both equally justified and needed.”

The book’s editor, Hèléne Klepinin-Arjakovsky, is the daughter of Father Dimitri Klepinin, a priest who worked closely with her and, like Mother Maria, died in a German concentration camp. The book’s principal translators are Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, renowned for their new editions of Dostoevsky, Gogol, Chekhov and Bulgakov.

In his preface, Olivier Clément comments: “Mother Maria lived a theology of encounter like that expressed in Matthew 25… She engaged herself fully in history, in organized spiritual resistance that she refused to distinguish from military resistance. But she remained fundamentally Orthodox in her mystical fervor and her love for the crucified and risen Christ, in her understanding of the cross of glory as the central point of history, and in her openness to the dynamism of the Holy Spirit.”

The Way of the Dreamcatcher

by Steve Georgiou

Novalis, 2002, pp 284, $19.95

ISBN 2-89507-244-2

In an exchange with his friend Thomas Merton when they were both university students, Box Lax told Merton the only thing worth aspiring to was sanctity. “How do you expect me to become a saint,” Merton asked. “Just by wanting to,” said Lax.

In 1993 Steve Georgiou, while visiting Patmos, happened to meet Lax. By then Lax had been living a hermit’s life on Patmos for many years. An enduring friendship took root between the young visitor and the old man. This book is a record of some of their conversations, the main theme of which could be summed up as sanctity.

Many readers will be drawn to this book by Lax’s haunting poetry. (The most recent collection is Circus Days and Nights, published last year just after Lax’s death.) Others will find their way to the poetry thanks to the conversations Georgiou “ an OPF member “ shares with his readers in this lovely book.

“Prayer is a way of sending out love everywhere at once,” Lax said. “When we forgive ourselves and each other, things that interfere with the flow of holiness dissolve.

Book Reviews

God With Us: Critical Issues in Christian Life and Faith

by Fr. John Breck

St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press

285 pp, ISBN 0-88141-252-X

Fr. John’s book begins with an evocative description of his first experience of being inside an Orthodox Church as a young theological student visiting Paris. Nearly 40 years later, he has become a re­spected Orthodox theologian. He is currently Professor of Biblical Interpretation and Ethics at St. Sergius Theological Institute in Paris.

His latest book is a collection of many columns he has written in the past several years.

The first section focuses on moral issues: When does human life begin? How can a person be so pro-life about an unborn child and so eager to see a person on death row be hurried to his grave? Do embryos have souls? What do we say to those who regard suicide as a human right? Do we really want a world in which killing children with Downs Syndrome is regarded as an act of mercy? Is pornography socially destructive? He also ad­dresses such issues as clergy burnout, the link between stress and lack of sleep and fear of losing one’s memory.

In the book’s second section, we meet Fr. John as an interpreter of scripture and liturgy. Again his short essays are often responses to questions: Are the words of Jesus authentic? How are we to read the scriptures? Who wrote the Bible? Why the incarnation? Is there room for innovation in painting icons? How could Jesus suffer temptation?

Finally there is a section of reflection on various topical issues: the events of September 11, the mystery of suffering, the experience of God’s seeming absence, the impact of secularism on theological discourse. He also addresses such issued as weeping icons and bishops who recite the Creed but do not believe it.

Fr. John has a rare gift to be clear without over-simplifying and to be a knowledgeable person who is haunted by what he doesn’t know.

The Bond of Unity

Syndesmos – Fifty years of work for Orthodox youth and unity

Hildo Bos, editor

€15 plus postage; 250 pages

orders via: www.syndesmos.org

or contact the Syndesmos secretariat:

[email protected]

This sturdy volume brings together some of the best writing to have been generated by Syndesmos, the pan-Orthodox youth move­ment that this year is celebrating its 50th birthday. Syndesmos has been one of the main areas of contact linking Orthodox jurisdictions and a factor in stimulating reflection on many issues that have troubled or challenged the Church.

The authors include Fr. John Meyen­dorff, Metropolitan George Khodre, Bishop Kallistos of Dio­kleia, Fr. Heikki Huttunen, Archimandrite Lev Gillet, Archbishop Anthony Bloom, Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Paul Evdoki­mov, James Cou­chell (now Bishop Dimi­trios), Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia, and Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana. The book also include a photos section.

Steps of Transformation

An Orthodox Priest Explores the Twelve Steps

by Fr. Meletios Webber

Conciliar Press: $14.95

ISBN 1-888212-63-2

For those suffering from an addiction or trying to better understand and befriend those so afflicted, Fr. Meletios Webber’s book is required reading. For many readers it may prove quite literally a life-savi­ng resource.

The twelve-step program that was developed for those struggling to overcome alcoholism has gradually found its way to many people with other dependencies and has also been found useful simply as a structure for spiritual growth.

While many books have been written on the twelve steps, this is the first to consider them from an Orthodox Christian perspective.

“Here is a book that will help many who, so far as they know, are not themselves alcoholics,” writes Bishop Kallistos is his introduction, “for there are numerous kinds of addictions besides addiction to alcohol, and who among us can claim to be free from all addictive weakness? This is a humble and realistic book, that bears witness to the immense patience and mercy of God. Let us read it in the spirit of humility and self-questioning.”

Three Treatises on the Divine Images

by St. John of Damascus

translation: Andrew Louth

163 pp, ISBN 0-88141-245-X

On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ

by St. Maximus the Confessor

translation: Paul Blowers & Robert Wilken

183 pp, ISBN 0-88141-249-X

St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press has a long-running project of making available fresh and reliable translations of patristic texts in compact, inexpensive editions that are useful to scholars yet accessible to lay readers who want to better know the great voices of Orthodox theology.

The latest additions to this excellent series includes a new edition of the three essays on icons by St. John of Damascus, written in the eighth century during the era of iconoclasm from a monastery near the Dead Sea. St. John’s defense of icons remains the best reply to those who regard veneration of icons as idolatry. The lucid translation as well as the introduction is the work of Andrew Louth, professor of Patristics and Byzantine Stud­ies at the University of Durham.

With interest in St. Maximus on the rise not only within the Orthodox Church but also among other Christians, this edition of some of the saint’s most important work will surely be welcomed by many in the English-speaking world. “This is the ideal volume,” comments Andrew Louth, “from which to learn first hand the depth and insight of St. Maximus’ cosmic vision and grasp of the complexities of human nature and consequences of the renewal of all things in Christ.”

Father Dimitry Klepinin

Martyr of the Dora Concentration Camp

By Helene Arjakovsky-Klepinin

5599131 On February 11, 2004, Father Dimitry Klepinin was glorified by the Orthodox Church. On this day the Diocesan Council of the Russian Exarchate of Western Europe, under the Ecumenical Patriarchate, announced that Fr. Dimitry, along with his friend Mother Maria Skobtsova and three other contemporaries, had been added to the Synaxarion of saints.

Few people today are familiar with the efforts of a small group of Orthodox who, during the Second World War, protected and saved numerous Jews in France at the risk of their own lives, by hosting them and acquiring forged papers for them. One of those who attempted in this way to witness their faithfulness to Christ and the life of the Gospel was Fr. Dimitry, a young Russian-born parish priest with a wife and two children. He was the associate of Mother Maria Skobtsova in the shelter that she had created at 77 rue Lourmel in Paris.

In France, Fr. Dimitry and his wife Tamara had been among the most active members of the Russian Student Christian Movement (RSCM). Tamara Klepinina later worked for many years at the publishing house YMCA-Press (famous for the publication of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago), where she published a bibliography of the works of Nicholas Berdyaev. Fr. Dimitry’s daughter Helene Arjakovsky-Klepinin is currently completing work on a book about her father, to be published in French. She has offered the following article in tribute to her father’s canonization.

Father Dimitry Klepinin was born in 1904 in Piatigorsk, in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains. He was the third child of an architect, Andrey Nikolaevich, who had constructed one of the city’s churches and built the famous baths of Kislovodsk, and of his wife Sophia Alexandrovna. While Dimitry was still a young child, the family moved to Odessa, where Andrey oversaw the construction of houses for the port authority.

The Klepinin family was very cultivated, musically gifted, and devout. Sophia’s cousin Zenaida Hippius and her husband, the philosopher Dimitry Merezhkovsky, were little Dimitry’s godparents. Sophia herself composed prayers and longed for a renewal of Orthodox life. In Odessa, she established an Orthodox school and engaged in social work in the city’s poor neighborhoods. Arrested in 1919 by the Cheka (the predecessor of the KGB), she was released from prison by a young female Cheka officer who knew about her work with the poor.

Dimitry left Odessa amidst the Bolshevik terror and was hired as apprentice on a ship. He briefly joined his family in Constantinople, where they had found a first refuge. Dimitry began studying at the American College in Constantinople. There the Zernov family, with whom the Klepinins were close, proposed the idea of a religious fellowship that would focus on action. This idea laid the foundation for the subsequent establishment of the Russian Student Christian Movement, in which Dimitry would play a key role. The Klepinins moved on to Yugoslavia, where Andrey successfully continued his career as an architect.

Two episodes from this period define Dimitry’s difficult spiritual journey. The first took place in Odessa when he was fifteen years old. Overwhelmed by the arrest of his mother, Dimitry went to a church to pray. He stood still, hands behind his back. A nun came up to him and admonished him, saying it was not fitting to stand in church like this. Dimitry left mortified, and vowed never again to set foot in a church.

The second episode took place in Yugoslavia. This fortunate event was also connected with his mother, who had passed away in 1923. Fr. Dimitry described this experience in a letter to a friend: “For the first time in my life I understood the meaning of suffering, when I realized that everything I had hoped for in life had evaporated. . . . I recalled the words of the Lord, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ I went to my mother’s grave with a heavy load of worldly sorrows, everything seeming so muddled up and forlorn, and suddenly I found the ‘light yoke’ of Christ. After this revelation, I changed the direction of my life.”

Dimitry began to participate in the Orthodox student circles established in Belgrade by the Zernovs. As Nicholas Zernov remembers, “We gathered around the Church; for us, the Church was the column and the foundation of truth, a force allowing everyone to be born again and capable of transfiguring our homeland. The members of our circle later became active members of the Orthodox Church in the West, of the Ecumenical Movement, of the Russian Student Christian Movement, and of different brotherhoods.” Dimitry absorbed the hopes of the student circle. One of the most prominent and influential Russian hierarchs and theologians in exile, Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, showed great affection to Dimitry, as did Father Alexis Neliubov, the spiritual father of many members of the circle.

In 1925 Dimitry enrolled at the Saint Sergius Theological Institute, which had recently opened in Paris. While at the Institute, he was especially moved by the lectures of his favorite teacher, Fr. Sergei Bulgakov. After graduating in 1929, he received a scholarship to study for one year at the New York Protestant Theological Seminary. His studies focused on Saint Paul, who became for him, as he would say himself, “both dear and near.”

Back in Europe, Dimitry made a living working in the copper mines of Yugoslavia, where his father was architect. During this time he encountered Father Sergei Tchetverikoff, who became his spiritual father; Dimitry became a chanter at his church.

Restless and searching, Dimitry soon returned to Paris. He knew hard times, and became a window-cleaner and parquet-waxer. Dimitry continued taking part in the life of the RSCM, singing in the church at 10 Boulevard Montparnasse and directing the choir at the RSCM summer camp. However, he found himself facing a grave dilemma. He did not feel a monastic vocation, but desired with his whole being to become a priest. Metropolitan Eulogius describes in his memoirs how the Orthodox community of Paris undertook to marry Dimitry. At one of the RSCM conferences, he was introduced to Tamara Feodorovna Baimakova, an RSCM member and correspondent of the Messenger of the RSCM in Riga.

Dimitry and Tamara married in 1937. That same year Dimitry was ordained to the priesthood by Metropolitan Eulogius at Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Paris. Initially he served at the Church of the Presentation of the Virgin at 91 rue Olivier de Serres, a parish dear to his heart. In 1939 he was named dean of the parish of the Protection of the Mother of God, at the shelter established by Mother Maria Skobtsova. Mother Maria welcomed the family and their little daughter Helene with joy. A boy, Paul, was born in 1942.

Thus began the years of the war and the German occupation. Fr. Dimitry actively joined the resistance efforts of Orthodox Action, the organization founded by Mother Maria. The small group of people at the rue Lourmel center collected parcels for prisoners and found hideouts for those suffering persecution. An entire Jewish family was given shelter in Fr. Dimitry’s bedroom. His ministry during this time of trouble led him to support many people in need, including mental patients. A former patient remembers how Fr. Dimitry saved her from depression: “He taught me to see other people’s misery, he took me to hospitals and entrusted children to me whose parents were in hiding. Thanks to him I stopped thinking about myself and found my balance in life again.”

Many former parishioners remember vividly the night of Pascha 1942 at the rue Lourmel. As one of those present described, “Outside there were restrictions, fear, war. In the church, illuminated by the light of candles, our priest, dressed in white, seemed to be carried by the wings of the wind, proclaiming with a radiant face: ‘Christ is risen!’ Our reply ‘He is risen indeed!’ tore apart the darkness.”

Many Russians and converted Jews came to the shelter seeking certificates of baptism, as a shield against arrest by the Nazis. Father Dimitry would pass long hours with each to prepare for baptism. But as events accelerated, others with no interest in becoming Christian came seeking certificates of baptism as well. While this troubled Fr. Dimitry, he still felt called to act. He told Mother Maria, “I think the good Christ would give me that paper if I were in their place. So I must do it.” While Fr. Dimitry never baptized anyone who did not truly want to be Christian, he gave out several dozen certificates, primarily to Jews. “These unfortunate ones are my spiritual children,” he used to say. “In all times, the Church has been a refuge for those who fall victims to barbarism.”

The concluding chapter of Fr. Dimitry’s life has been recounted powerfully by the Russian writer Sophie Koulomzin. What follows is a description of this time of trial and glory, as told by Sophie in an article published in 1970 by Young Life magazine.

Mother Maria and Fr. Dimitry were warned that they were likely to be arrested in the near future. They had been denounced for helping Jews and their case was being investigated. Gestapo officers arrived at Lourmel while Mother Maria was away. They arrested her son Yuri, searched the building, and ordered Fr. Dimitry to present himself at their headquarters the following day. Fr. Dimitry went willingly, accompanied by a woman from the Lourmel shelter.

A German officer named Hoffman had collected a large amount of evidence on how Jews had been helped by Mother Maria and Fr. Dimitry. He was prepared to question the priest for a long time, and was astonished when Fr. Dimitry told him frankly about everything he had done.

Hoffman said curtly, “And if we release you, will you promise never again to aid Jews?”

Dimitry answered, “I can say no such thing. I am a Christian, and must act as I must.”

Hoffman stared at him in disbelief for a moment, and then struck Dimitry across his face. “Jew lover!” he screamed. “How dare you talk of those pigs as being a Christian duty!”

The frail Dimitry recovered his balance. Staying calm, he raised the Cross from his cassock and faced Hoffman with it.

“Do you know this Jew?” he said quietly.

The blow he received knocked him to the floor.

Dimitry’s interrogation lasted another six hours. Finally, Hoffman took Fr. Dimitry back to the Lourmel, to pick up Mother Maria and finish the search. One of Hoffman’s assistants told her, “Your priest has sentenced himself!”

Fr. Dimitry took leave of his wife and children. Almost his last words were to remind her of an elderly woman who lived on the sixth floor of a walk-up apartment building nearby. Only then did Tamara learn why this visit had always taken so long. Fr. Dimitry would chop wood for the old woman, make fires for her, bring her food, and prepare it.

Two months later, Fr. Dimitry, together with Mother Maria’s son Yuri, was being transferred from their prison to a prison camp in Compiegne, France. His cassock torn and dirty, Fr. Dimitry was ridiculed. To amuse a watching group of office girls, a German began pushing and hitting him, crying out “Jew! Jew!” Fr. Dimitry remained calm, but beside him Yuri began to cry. Fr. Dimitry said gently, “Don’t cry — remember that Jesus Christ had to bear much greater humiliations.”

In the camp at Compiegne, Fr. Dimitry continued to act as a priest. Tamara managed to send him his books and vestments. Out of tables and beds a makeshift chapel was arranged in one of the barrack rooms, complete with altar table and iconostasis. Divine Liturgy was served every day. Catholics and Orthodox worked side by side. Artists in the camp painted icons, craftsmen hand-made a crucifix, the chalice, and the diskos. Orthodox services alternated with those of the Catholics. Fr. Dimitry drew a sketch of the church in a letter he smuggled out to Tamara.

For almost a year Fr. Dimitry remained in the French camp. He was then transferred briefly to the camp at Buchenwald in Germany, and then to the camp at Dora. While Fr. Dimitry had always been frail, his health had remained strong throughout his ordeal. Not long after his arrival at Dora, though, he began to deteriorate. He could not carry out the work that was assigned to him. Some of his friends told the German foreman, “The priest is an old man, he cannot do this work.” And indeed Fr. Dimitry looked old and unwell. But when the foreman asked him his age, he told the truth. “I am 39 years old,” he said. The foreman, angry because the prisoners had tried to deceive him, struck Fr. Dimitry.

Fr. Dimitry’s forces continued to fail. He began to feel abandoned, like Jesus Christ on the cross. He was dismissed from the work gang. In the bitterness of the mountain winter, wearing only cotton work clothes and wooden shoes, he became sick and ran a high fever. Doctors among the prisoners saw that he had pneumonia, but they could do nothing for him. He was sent to the camp death house. One of his friends was able to visit him there. He brought him the monthly letter-card on which he could write something to Tamara and his children. Fr. Dimitry stared at the card but wrote nothing. He was too weak, and he knew he was dying. He just looked at his old friend, who survived to tell the story. That night, Fr. Dimitry died.

A Grandson’s Reflections

Helene’s son, and Fr. Dimitry’s grandson, Anton Arjakovsky spoke about his grandfather at the Kiev Monastery of the Caves in 2001. During his address, Antoine gave the following tribute:

Since childhood, I remember hearing stories about the tragic life of my grandfather. Still it seems that I really heard them when I was twelve. One morning my mother, displeased with my behavior, spoke about her father, with all her heart, about a hero. I went to school crying. I still consider this day as the beginning of my moral memory. It also meant the beginning of a dialogue with my grandfather, following the gradual and startling discovery of his discreet presence and protection…..

After the war, there were the first anniversaries of Father Dimitri’s death celebrated at the church of the Russian Student Christian Movement, the first parcels with clothing and food sent to my grandmother by grateful Jewish families in the United States. There was solidarity. There was the witness of former victims of the deportation, such as Geneviève Anthonioz de Gaulle, the niece of the General who had been incarcerated in Ravensbrück together with Mother Maria.

A poet, George Rayevsky, told the small group of survivors a dream he had had. One night, my mother later told me, he had dreamt of Mother Maria crossing a field full of ears of grain, walking in her usual calm manner. He rushed up to her and said: ‘But Mother Maria, they told me you were dead!’ She answered, looking at him over the rim of her spectacles with kindness and wit: “O, if one should believe everything they say You see, don’t you, that I’m alive!” [Hélène Arjakovsky, “The Joy of Giving,” in Mother Maria, The Sacrament of our Neighbor, Pully 1995 p. 69 (in French); included in Mother Maria Skobtsova: Essential Writings (English language edition, Orbis Press]

Then there was the twentieth anniversary of his death in 1964, followed the next year by the publication of Father Sergi Hackel’s Pearl of Great Price, translated into German in 1967 by Heinrich Böll’s wife, and the book The Rebel Nun by Stratton Smith, translated into French some years later. Again twenty years later, in 1984, the Orthodox Messenger dedicated an issue to their memory, and the Jewish memorial in Yad Vashem granted the title “Just among the Nations” to Father Dimitri and Mother Maria. (Still, the production of a film on Mother Maria in the USSR didn’t help calm the collective memory of the émigré community. It depicted the rue Lourmel parish as a group of pro-Soviet Russian patriots combating the Fascist invaders )

Personally I believe that the end of Communism and the Soviet Union contributed largely to revive the flame of memory, not only with the publication of Fr Sergi Hackel’s book in Russia in 1993, but also among the emigres. When the outer enemy disappears, the inner enemy becomes visible. The 1990s in France were a period when the participation of the French authorities in the anti-Semitic Vichy regime was finally acknowledged. The Russian emigration ceased at last to exhaust itself in combating the “giant on feet of clay” of totalitarianism.

In this context, my mother started speaking little by little about the tragic destiny of the “modernist” group at the ‘Orthodox Action.’ Indeed, those who fell in battle were not just anyone. They were the heirs of the great movement of renewal in the Russian religious thought of the early Twentieth Century, transformed in exile into a movement of non-conformist, and later spiritual, Orthodox thought. They were among the intimate friends of Father Sergi Bulgakov and Nicholas Berdyaev. In 1994, at the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Father Dimitri, my mother published a biography of her father and an introduction to the first collection of articles of Mother Maria in French, The Sacrament of our Neighbor. As introduction to her article she used the saying of Evagrius of Pontus: ‘Sell was you have and give the proceeds to the poor.’ Some time later she allowed the review Khristianos in Riga (Latvia) to publish the correspondence of my grandfather and grandmother during his months in the camps.

It was in this period that a growing number of voices could be heard calling for the canonization of Mother Maria and Father Dimitri as well as other associated with them who had died as martyrs. New voices were added to those that had been calling for this for years (Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, Father Sergi Hackel, Olivier Clement, Elisabeth Bahr-Siegel): the Russian priest Father Ekonomtzev, dean of one of Moscow’s Orthodox universities, Deacon Maxim Egger, editor and secretary of the Saint Silouan Fellowship, and also Catholic and Protestant Christians inspired by their lives. Internet sites have been dedicated to their memory, icons have been painted in their honor, and so on. Following this appeal Tatiana Emilianova, a young Russian scholar, then compiled the dossier for the canonization of Mother Maria and Father Dimitri, with the help of my mother (to whom this seemed a natural development). .

Allow me to end with a personal memory. One morning, at our dacha in the countryside near Paris, I had breakfast with my grandmother, who was over 80 by then. Both of us had raised late. Suddenly she told me, with a wide smile: “You know, Anton, last night I had a wonderful dream. I walked by a field with Father Dimitri, we held hands. The sun was radiant. We were so happy ”

Fr. Dimitry, pray for us!

This essay was first published in English in the January-March 2004 issue of Again magazine, published by Conciliar Press, Ben Lomond, California. Translated from the French by Deacon Hildo Bos. Reprinted with permission. The section by Antoine Arjakovsky has been expanded.

Published in the Spring 2004 issue of In Communion, the quarterly journal of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship. Copyright by the author.

Recommended Reading

An Outline of Orthodox Patristic Dogmatics

by Fr. John S. Romanides

edited and translated by Fr. George

Dion Dragas; preface by Metropolitan

Methodios of Boston

Orthodox Research Institute, 153 pp, $11

www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org

An Outline of Orthodox Patristic Dogmatics (published both in Greek and English) provides a concise introduction into Romanides’ understanding of the basic tenets of the Eastern Orthodox Faith and its differences from those of Western (Augustinian or Franco-Latin) Christian theology. It covers such doctrines as God’s relation to the world, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the doctrine of Christ, the doctrine of the Church, the Church’s Holy Tradition and the restoration and perfection of humanity in and through this Tradition. It serves as an introduction into Romanides’ original vision of Patristic Orthodoxy, which is the basis of his reappraisal of Christian theology and history. Its value lies in its concise, coherent and comprehensive character.

The Golden Anthology: Writings of a Greek-American Soldier in Korea (1947-1951)

compiled & edited by Dean Papademetriou;

Boston: Somerset Hall Press, 2003;

134 pp, $15;

www.somersethall. com

The cover of this poignant story introduces us to Private First Class John C. Papademetriou. His open face, sincere smile, and dark eyes engage us all the more because, as a Greek-born child, he is dressed in the picture in an American soldier’s uniform.

A larger picture develops as we discover John’s birthplace in his Greek village, his parents and siblings, his extended family, and the endearing vignettes of his childhood. We are also confronted with the reality of the times in which he lived, including the shadows of Hitler and Mussolini cast across the European nations. We discover John at the age of 12 on the wrong side of a firing squad, and learn how he escaped death.

By 1947, we meet John in America, a teenager intent on learning English. His soul spilled over into prose and poetry, sometimes jovial, sometimes serious, always genuine. He had come to love life so much that he wanted to guard it at all costs. Choosing to enlist, he found himself in the Korean War, where he served by his own choosing as a medic on the front, “not having enough time to sleep in the foxhole he has dug for himself,” as he wrote.

On May 12, 1951, he was killed while ministering to a fellow wounded soldier.

Threaded throughout the short life of this young man is his devotion to God, his daily prayers, his love of family and country, both his birth country of Greece and his adopted country of America. Above all, he demonstrates his overflowing love of life. There is quiet enthusiasm and reassurance when he writes: “Don’t you cry tears for me, I will return.”

Over 50 years later, one of John’s nephews, Dean Papademetriou, has paid a tribute to his late uncle worthy of a place on your bookshelf and, even more, worthy of a place in your heart. “Run, run before my soul leaves my body run, run, the heavens are opening.”

— Lyn Breck

Toward a Eucharistic Vision of Church, Family, Marriage and Sex

by Philip LeMasters

Light &Life Publications 176 pages, $15;

http://www.light-n-life.com

This enlightening volume demonstrates how the Eucharist connects to and influences every aspect of life in practical everyday ways since, in fact, it is the very source of life. Its seven chapters highlight how the Eucharist shapes Christians living the life of Christ in the world in such specific areas as marriage, family and sex. The wide range of themes addressed indicates the profundity and breadth of the spiritual and moral issues at stake for the Christian in the celebration of the Eucharist. “Hundreds of lengthy quotations from patristic and modern theologians makes this a work to be read and studied by parish groups,” Fr. John Breck comments in his foreword.

O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?

By Fr. Alexander Schmemann

St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press

115 pp, $10

“The most important and most profound question of the Christian faith must be, how and from where did death arise, and why has it become stronger than life?” asked Fr. Alexander Schmemann. “Why has death become so powerful that the world itself has become a kind of global cemetery, a place where a collection of people condemned to death live either in fear or terror, or, in their efforts to forget about death, find themselves rushing around one great big burial plot?”

In this collection of ten essays, Schmemann explores the mystery of death. Taking us to the heart of Christian revelation and anthropology, he helps the reader discover why the apostle Paul calls death the “last enemy” and Christ’s answer to this enemy.

In a culture in which death is often hidden or masked and the world made into a cosmic cemetery, Schmemann’s reflections make for timely reading.

“Christianity is not a reconciliation with death,” he notes. “It is the revelation of death, and it reveals death because it is the revelation of Life. Christ is this Life. And only if Christ is Life is death what Christianity proclaims it to be, namely the enemy to be destroyed, not a mystery to be explained.”

On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ

by St. Maximus the Confessor

Translated by Robert Wilken and Paul Blowers;

St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press 184 pp, $13.95

The last half of the twentieth century saw the recognition of St. Maximus the Confessor as one of the greatest of Byzantine theologians, with a wholeness of vision that speaks directly to many of our concerns today. Until recently, however, little of his work has been available in English translation.

This volume provides translations of the two main collections of theological reflections by St. Maximus, his Ambigua (or Difficulties) and his Questions to Thalassius, plus one of his Christological opuscula, hitherto unavailable in English. The translations are accompanied by helpful notes, and prefaced by an excellent introduction to the theology of Maximus. This is the ideal volume from which to learn at first hand the depth and insight of St. Maximus’ cosmic vision and grasp of the complexities of human nature, as he patiently explores the nature and consequences of the renewal of all things in Christ.

— Fr. Andrew Louth

Journey Back to Eden: My Life and Times Among the Desert Fathers

by Mark Gruber, OSB

Orbis Books, 208 pp, $18.00

As a young monk and anthropology student, Gruber — after leafing through a National Geographic article on the Nile — impulsively selected Coptic monasteries as his dissertation topic. Coptic monasteries in the Sahara desert became the topic of Gruber’s year-long field study and a lifelong focus of personal and professional interest.

More than a decade after his year in the desert, he began consulting his notes, letters, notes from interviews and memories in order to create this memoir, part spiritual journal, part travelogue of his passage through a “blessed corridor of time.” The author provides an intimate glimpse of patches of heaven in the Egyptian wilderness.