15 January 2006

Father Arseny again

I was blessed to have some time to read this afternoon, and I finished up the Father Arseny work. Amazing, utterly amazing. It provided a powerful answer to something I was struggling with a bit, and I am thankful to God for that. It has the effect of opening up your own soul and letting you see the truth about yourself, and not despairing despite that, but reposing entirely upon the mercy of God. (The picture is of Fr. Arseny's tomb in Rostov, Russia - it would be a wonderful thing, I think, to make a pilgrimage there and pray at this tomb.)

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the part where the Red and White Russian get in a fight and they put him the middle great. His response was just stunning.

Deb

William Weedon said...

Frankly, I found the entire account stunning. Martin Franzmann spoke of the New Testament having "the ring of truth" that you did not find, for example, in the Gnostic gospels. I found the entire work to resound with "the ring of truth." It was truly a glimpse into the life of this extraordinary saint of God!

Anonymous said...

Regarding a pilgrimage to teh tomb to pray there, why?

Thanks,

William Weedon said...

Why a pilgrimage to where his bones rest? Much the same reason that one goes to the graves of parents and grandparents. One goes to remember, to be near their earthly remains, to pray. It is an act of love that I do not quite know how to explain. But for us Christians the bones of the dead are not what they are to the gnostics (who concentrate on the soul in heaven as the biggy); for us those bones are holy, sanctified by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and "dem bones gonna rise again!" And we always remember Elisha's bones...

Janice M. said...

Which book? I need to know which one to interlibrary loan!
Father Arseny, 1893-1973: Priest, Prisoner... by Alexander
or
Father Arseny: Cloud of Witnesses

Thank you for your bloggings...

William Weedon said...

Dear Janice,

I haven't read Cloud of Witnesses yet, but I want to! I just read Father Arseny, 1893-1973.

You must let me know what you think of it. I can't thank Deaconess Sandy enough for pointing me to it. She picked it up because she is involved in prison ministry and she saw he was a prisoner - but wow is it ever so much more.

Thanks for the kind comments on the bloggings. What a neat way to share and have back-and-forths.

Pax!

Anonymous said...

This probably isn't the answer you were looking for, but I'd imagine that Pr. Weedon would go to pray at the tomb of Fr. Arseny because Pr. Weedon is a Christian and that is the Christian faith at its purest.

Anonymous said...

Praying at the tomb of a russian priest is the Christian faith at its purest?? I disagree.

Thanks Pr. Weedon for trying to explain. I was not raised in a family that visited the graves of our forebears, and so I don't do it now as an adult. I guess I tend toward the gnostic (I had no idea!) in that I regarded those remains as not unimportant, but done for now...on the shelf until later. Meanwhile, at the Divine Service I am rejoined with my loved ones and "All the company of Heaven."

The other thing I don't really understand is why the prayers at the grave of a man you only know from writings? What about less famous Christians? Should we make pilgrimage to the graves of others to pray there too? What is accomplished at Fr. Arseny's tomb that is not at a lesser known saint, or elsewhere?

Please understand that thanksgiving to God for the exemplary lives of the Saints who've gone before us is something I am completely in agreement with. I just don't grasp what makes the location of this tomb a better place than others.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

You're free to disagree, but the fact is that what Pr. Weedon is suggesting is what the apostolic Church practiced/s.

From the Martyrdom of Polycarp, a 2nd century bishop who was baptised by John:

"And so we afterwards took up his bones which are more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold, and laid them in a suitable place, where the Lord will permit us to gather ourselves together, as we are able, in gladness and joy, and to celebrate the birth-day of his martyrdom for the commemoration of those that have already fought in the contest, and for the training and preparation of those that shall do so hereafter."

Why gather at the tomb of a saint? Because our *bodies* are made temples of the Holy Spirit and because *in our flesh* we shall see God. The bodies of the Saints are precious in the sight of the Lord.

Anonymous said...

To my anonymous respondent, you are reading/writing past me, friend.

First, because it is what the early church did does not make it "The faith in its purest form." They worshipped in homes. Is that the "purest form also? I could list many other examples.

Secondly, re: the martyrdom of Polycarp, sure, those who were close to him took care of his body and sure, they returned to the grave to remember and give thanks. They were close to him, just like, as Pr. Weedon commented, people visit the graves of friends and family.

My question is not about people we are close to, nor is it about "the tomb of *a* saint. It is this particular saint, who would be a stranger except for Pr. Weedon happening to read his writings (which I might like to read myself some time, based on his enthusiam in this blog).

Now, about the Holy Spirit indwelling our flesh, is the Holy Spirit in the ground with our mortal remains? Your last paragraph almost suggests such a thing.

And again, I wrote that the body is not unimportant. I agree, our bodies are precious in the sight of the Lord.

Lastly, being that this is Pr. Weedon's blog, my comments are addressed to him. I appreciate your attempts at sharpening my dull edge, but this is going to get quite cumbersome with both of us posting back and forth as anonymous. He made comments in his blog, I'm asking him to discuss them with me. A third party answering arguments I haven't made isn't really helpful for me.

Thanks.

William Weedon said...

Do note that I NEVER said that Fr. Arseny's tomb was a "better place" than others, but that it would be a place I myself would very much like to visit and pray at. It was an entirely personal statement - no one has to like it or agree with it or even understand it, for who really cares where I would like to make pilgrimage and where I would like to pray? Having read about Fr. Arseny, I would simply like to be where his holy bones lie and to offer prayer there.

But the idea that the graves of the saints are hallowed places is something that is confessed at every commital. We confess that this body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (who doesn't abandon it!); we confess that Christ by His rest in the tomb has sanctified the graves of His saints. Because these are places where particular members of the Body of Christ rest, they are holy places. Fit places for prayer, and St. Paul even suggests for Holy Baptism in 1 Cor. 15.

Finally, as to the notion of the bones of God's saints "being on the shelf till later", do spend time pondering the wondrous story in 2 Kings 13:21!

Anonymous said...

That helps me understand. Thank you Pastor. I will consider the Scriptures to which you have pointed me.

AS to "who cares" ...you put it in your blog, and I like to read your blog, so I would like to understand your thoughts and reasons... So I guess I do.

Also, I know you did not say it was a better location. I apologize for inferring that you did.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Weedon,

St. John of Damascus in "On the Divine Images" convinced me of everything you mention above. He caused a major turning point in my thinking. The Holy Spirit does not depart from the bodies of the saints. Bodies are not "wrappers" thrown away, as I've heard more than one Lutheran preacher say.

Fr. S. R. Cota

William Weedon said...

Dear Anon,

No problem. If you get to read about Fr. Arseny, though, I think you'll see why it would be wonderful to visit his grave. You feel you come to know the man through the pages of this work and he becomes very dear to you, at least such was my experience.

Dear Fr. Cota,

Amen! Amen! Amen! I will NEVER forget hearing the Methodist pastor say over both my wife's grandparents: "And so we leave their bodies here because they won't ever need them again." And this after just confessing the Apostles' Creed in Church!

Pax!

Anonymous said...

Fr. Weedon,

What you relate in regard to the funerals of your wife's grandparents just goes to show that the true Faith is preserved in the Creeds and liturgy of the Church, even when the pastors become apostate, IF the Creeds and liturgy ARE preserved.

Fr. S.R. Cota

William Weedon said...

BIG "If" when you live in Adiaphoraland... "You know we don't HAVE to do the Creeds, don't you? What are you a liturgical Nazi?"

Sometimes 40 Lord have mercies doesn't seem nearly enough...

Anonymous said...

I have just completed Father Arseny - Priest, Prisoner.
This is such an inspirational true story, of an amazing human.
I agree with Weedon. I will visit Rostov one day and pray at his tomb