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The Angel of Light 02/2009

The Angel of Light 02/2009

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Published by Alexey Vidanov
February 2009/ Monthly Bulletin of the Orthodox V Charitable Association
February 2009/ Monthly Bulletin of the Orthodox V Charitable Association

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Published by: Alexey Vidanov on Feb 18, 2010
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Iverskaya icon of Theotokos
the most famous and respected of Slavonic people.
Iviron is the name of the monastery on Holy Mount Athos where the Iverskaya icon hasbeen since the 10th century. According to church history, this icon was of the type paintedby the Apostle and Evangelist Luke on a panel of the table at which, The Lord Jesus Christand His 12 apostles had their Last Supper. This icon is of the Hodegetria type from theGreek meaning Pointer of the Way and is usually depicted with the Christ Child in Herarms giving His blessing, but the Iverskaya icon has also some blood on Her cheek.In the 9
th
century, a widow from Byzantium hid the icon in her house topreserve this icon of Virgin Mary from destruction of iconoclasts, becausethat time, was a time of iconoclasm, and all icons were being lookedfor and then they were burned or broken. One day, soldiers burst into

with his sword. At that moment the blood began to flow from the cheekof The Holy Virgin Mary. The Soldiers-iconoclasts were very scared and

Fearing that she would be caught, the widowtook the icon to the sea and after saying a prayer, she dropped it into

200 years later a monk from Athos found the icon in the sea and took it to the monastery.A copy was made and sent to Russia in 1648, where a chapel was built for it. Almost im-mediately this copy became highly venerated because of many-many miracles which hadbeen attributed to it. This Holy Chapel is in the heart of Moscow (the capital of the RussiaFederation) between the Historical Museum and the building where the State Duma met be-fore the Revolution. It was always the most revered place of all Russian holy places Afterthe revolution of 1917, the chapel was razed, and opened again only in 1994. The feast

monks saw the holy icon, gliding in the sea water to them. Since then and up to now, forabout 11 centuries the Iverskaya icon of Theotokos has been in the monastery on HolyMount Athos and a lot of miracles have taken place all this time.
Prayerful dialogue.
Litanies are an integral part of worship in theOrthodox Church. They come in many different forms and bear several different

litanies that is difficult to ignore: all of them take the form of a dialogue between theclergy, who preside at our divine services, and the people, who can be thought of as co-celebrants. As in any good and healthy conversation, a few things are necessary. Foremost,there must be at least two parties; one cannot engage in dialogue by oneself. Litanies are aliturgical dialogue between the clergy and people. In order for this interaction to work ap-propriately, this conversation must consist not only of the priest chanting petitions, but of thepeople responding. In fact, a large portion of the Divine Liturgy involves dialogue betweenthe celebrating clergy and the people who have gathered in worship. Probably the mostpoignant example of such a dialogue is the anaphora. The content of these prayers impliesand rest upon the very fact that the congregation is present and that it actively participates,praying each petition as a single body. The celebrant exclaims, "Let us have our hearts on

ing. So, from the Great Litany at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy to the very end, when

ferent streams of dialogue between clergy and people, each affording us an opportunity tounify as a community, as the Body of Christ.
 
 Saint Nicholas, the Enlightener of Japan
On August 1, 1836, in the village of Beryoza, Smolensk District, a son was born into thefamily of a poor deacon named Dimitry Kasatkin. The child was baptized with the nameIvan. Who then could have imagined that Vanya Kasatkin would become the third Russian(after the Holy Princess Olga and Holy Prince Vladimir) to be glorified as a Saint Equal-to-the-Apostles! When in 1860 the 24-year-old missionary set off for Japan, preaching theGospel in that country seemed absolutely inconceivable. According to Fr. Nicholas, "the Japanese looked upon foreigners as animals and upon Christianity as an extremely evilchurch to which only frank evildoers and sorcerers could belong." Apparently the early years of his mission served only to confirm that sad idea: after 8 years, the Russian mission-ary's flock in Japan consisted of a mere 12 people. Toward the end of his life, however,in Japan there were already 266 communities, with a bishop, an archbishop, 35 priests,116 preachers, and approximately 33,000 laypeople!.In 1855 Japan allowed the Russians to establish their first diplomatic mission, in Hako-date. In 1860 the Russian consul to Japan made a request of the Holy Synod to send apastor "who might be useful not only with his religious activities, but one who with hisscholarly efforts and his personal life would be capable of giving the Japanese and foreign-ers as well a good understanding of our clergy." That request was passed on to the Theo-logical Academy.Among its graduates was John Kasatkin.

tioned the rector to tonsure him a monk and appoint him to the Russian Consulate in Ja-pan. There was no objection to his request. In June 1860, he was tonsured with thename Nicholas. The very same month, he was ordained a hieromonk, and became a mo-nastic missionary. In July, the young hieromonk left for his assignment in the city of Hako-date, Japan. He later recollected, "I dreamed a lot about my Japan. I imagined it to belike a bride waiting for me with a floral bouquet in her hands. When news of Christflooded through its darkness, everything would be renewed. How disillusioning it was forme to arrive in Japan and see something the complete opposite of what I had imagined! Iarrived, looked around, and saw that my bride was asleep, and was not even thinkingabout me."Since long past, Japanese had had a low opinion of everything foreign, and had heldfirmly to their own customs. Christian ethics were completely alien to the Japanese peo-ple. One can readily see that in the Samurai code: in the event of dishonor, the Samuraiwas obliged to committed suicide, to commit hara kiri. Of course, to them Christians wor-shiping Christ, One who had been crucified, seemed simply able. Even more so was theiraffirmation that this person, who had been condemned to a disgraceful death, was God!For 8 years, the young missionary studied Japan. Everything interested him - its language,its customs, and its moral code. In 1868 he spoke rudimentary Japanese, and acquired abetter understanding of Japan's history than did the Japanese themselves.Among the first Japanese to be converted to Orthodoxy by Fr. Nicholas was Sawabe. ThatSaul-turned-Paul was a Shinto priest who was held in universal respect lived in complete ma-terial contentment. He once happened to visit the Russian priest only to express his scornfor and hatred of the Christian Faith. He began his discussion with pointed ridicule, but inthe course of the talk became progressively more reflective. The next day Sawabe returned,and at the conclusion of the discussion asked to begin studying Christian teachings. Hebrought a brush and ink to the first lesson. Fr. Nicholas would relate the story of the OldTestament, and Sawabe would record it in kanji hieroglyphs. One year later, Sawabebrought his friend Dr. Sakai to see Fr. Nicholas. Another year later, another physician, Dr.Urano, joined them. Much later, during their Baptism (Fr. Nicholas was in no hurry to bap-

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