Saturday, April 29, 2023

Questions and Answers 204 - 209

Question 204: Is it true that the miracle of the Holy Light (Holy Fire) in Jerusalem on Holy Saturday can only be done by an Orthodox Patriarch? The story of the Armenian Patriarch centuries ago seems to confirm it.

Answer: This belief or theory is based on a story or two, but it really is just an interpretation of those incidents. The truth is, we don't know. I think it could be dangerous and misleading to make such pronouncements based on an interpretation of events. Does the Holy Light appear because the Patriarch is Orthodox, or does it appear because the tomb of Christ has grace and it is the event of the resurrection that is confirmed, no matter who invokes God for the light. After all, the Armenian Patriarch still brought down the Holy Light, it's just that, according to the story, it occurred in a frightening and unusual way. Also, miracles happen among Catholics with the relics of true Saints that have nothing to do with confirming the belief system of those possessing them, though it may confirm their faith in the Saint who has the grace. There are many examples like this. It happens with Muslims too who put their faith in Christian Saints to help them. The same can be said with the Holy Light, that if someone merely believes in the miraculous nature of it, the miracle can occur without it necessarily affirming the belief system of the individual. The danger of saying the Holy Light comes down only for the Orthodox is if it happens one day with someone who is not Orthodox, then what will be the explanation? I prefer to say that the Holy Light has more to do with the location than the person who receives it, though it may also be true that the person does have something to do with it. Only God knows. Every other interpretation is an act of judgment, and such judgments are beyond my nature and ability due to my limited understanding of God's mind and intention.

Question 205: How many visitors do you get to your websites daily, monthly, annually?

Answer: I stopped looking at those numbers some years ago, probably stopped around 5 years ago. Numbers like that are very deceiving and they don't really say anything of value. The only thing I measure my ministry by is by the amount of people who support it financially. Currently I have about 130 people who give me some sort of financial support annually, so when people ask me how many people read and follow my work, that is the number I give. If I were to go by any other number, such as people who click on and view my stuff, it would be much higher, but I figure those are the people who don't value what I have to offer enough to support it, so they are just passers-by who could care less whether the Mystagogy Resource Center exists or not. I think the same with people who cancel their financial support of this ministry, that if they stop giving then they no longer consider its existence of value. The only reason the Mystagogy Resource Center has existed for so many years is because people have told me they value it by their financial support. Otherwise, I would stop and remove everything.

Question 206: Do you think the hymns of Holy Week have anti-Semitic elements?

Answer: Anyone who reads Antisemitism into the hymns of Holy Week is reading those hymns wrong, plain and simple, whether they are for or against Antisemitism. I find it laughable every time this issue comes up, because it is so ridiculous. We might as well eliminate the Gospel of John, which all these hymns are based off of, if you want those hymns eliminated. Of course, then we would be heretics.

Question 207: Are the invisible ascetics of Mount Athos real?

Answer: There is a whole book in Greek on this subject which gathers various testimonies about their existence. I find it difficult to not believe the stories, though there is no actual proof except for personal testimonies. I find it fascinating to a degree and it does seem to make sense from a certain perspective. Just to be clear, these "invisible" ascetics are not really invisible per se, but their visibility is obscured by God's grace so as to go about Mount Athos unnoticed. And not just Mount Athos, but there are also stories of such invisible ascetics in Crete and perhaps elsewhere. These are said to be men who have reached such a high degree of sanctification and humility, that God allows them to go unnoticed so as not to acquire spiritual children and disciples that might otherwise be the cause of their downfall through pride and ego. By going unnoticed, they live an undistracted life of prayer. Typically only people who God allows to see them do, most famous among them being Saint Paisios the Athonite. I'll hopefully be writing more about them in the future.

Question 208: How is the book publishing coming along?

Answer: Right now I am sitting on a bunch of books waiting to be published. Because I plan on publishing many things, I will have to self-publish, so I still have to figure that out. My primary hindrance right now is finances. I barely have enough time to do the little I do because I have to work full time to pay my bills. To publish I would need more financial support to free up some time for myself to get more work in the ministry going, but I can't seem to convince enough people to help me out. Once this takes place, expect a bombardment of publications.

Question 209: Can you recommend some good Orthodox websites, ministries and YouTube channels in English?

Answer: Unfortunately, no. Not that they are all bad or anything, some might actually be very good, but I have no time beyond doing my own reading, writing and research to thoroughly examine them. From those that I do know, very little to nothing appeals to me, personally, though there are a few that I do like but have failed to follow recently (I would need to be asked more specifically about certain things). The only stuff I like that I am familiar with are in Greek or Russian, which is where a lot of my translations come from. I will say, however, that what I do see once in a while on social media coming off as Orthodox is highly disturbing, so I would warn everyone with extreme caution about the sources of their information about Orthodoxy, not only in English but in any language (Greek and Russian sources can be just as bad or even worse). I would even say to be cautious of my own things that I post. Most of what I post is just translations, so they don't always reflect my thinking on subjects. I try to minimize my own thoughts on subjects because there is this phenomenon these days of the rise of too many internet personalities that people get attached to. I don't want to be one of those internet personalities, so I limit to writing about things only when I have to and when I think it can be helpful to address specific things I can offer a unique perspective on. Otherwise, I do not find it spiritually beneficial to me or anyone else to be an overly lauded internet personality or internet ministry. One of the best things that happened to me was when my Twitter account was permanently suspended and I lost thousands of followers. It's been months now since I started a new Twitter account and currently have less than 150 followers. This gives me a much better understanding of people who value what I have to offer than having thousands of followers.

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