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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Orthodox Iconography as an Eschatological Art


By Steven Bigham

For Christians, eschatological “time” and “space” are our time and our space transfigured by the glory of Christ. We use quotation marks to speak of time and space for the following reason: since our words describe the reality of our world, they lose some of the relevance when we try to talk about what goes beyond our experience of the world. This is why poetry, parables, and image language are better suited for talking about the end time than discursive, rational, scientific language. All the eschatological passages of the Bible, especially those of Daniel and Revelations, use verbal imagery that seems, to our far-too-earthly eyes, very close to pure fantasy.

We can easily see that every word that tries to express the reality of the Kingdom of God must necessarily be deformed and stretched toward imagery so as to perceive “through a mirror dimly” (1Cor.13:12) that which we only know by foretaste. The same conditions apply to the icon but are expressed in a different manner: the icon has the task of representing, making visible, people and events in the light of the Kingdom of God. Such persons lived, such events took place in history, our history, according to the conditions that govern our existence, but they allow us to glimpse a reality which is not ruled by those conditions. Iconography, therefore, must use material and techniques that belong to our world (colors, lines, brushes, little colored stones, etc.) to show forth the Kingdom of God. The icon’s relation with the word is once again brought out: What poetry and parables are to the ear, iconography is to the eye.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Eschatological Nature of Asceticism


The eschatological settings of the marriage feast parables in the New Testament encouraged the ascetic nature of Christianity. To engage in activities that furthered the existence of this earthly life only delayed the inevitable — and desired — arrival of the eschaton. Christ as Second Adam had opened the gates of Paradise anew for those who were saved and promised their return to that state of grace lived by the First Adam and Eve before the Fall. To hasten the fulfillment of this event, the believer lived in its expectation and sought in every way possible not to contribute to the continuing existence of this earthly realm, for example, by the procreation of children.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Concerning the Last Judgement (St. Ephraim the Syrian)


Concerning the Last Judgement

Letter Addressed to Publius

By St. Ephraim the Syrian

You would do well not to let fall from your hands the polished mirror of the holy Gospel of your Lord, which reproduces the image of everyone who gazes at it and the likeness of everyone who peers into it. While it keeps its own natural quality, undergoes no change, is devoid of any spots, and is free of any soiling, it changes its appearance before colors although it itself is not changed .

Before white things it becomes [white] like them.

Before black things, it becomes dark like them.

Before red things [it becomes] red like them.

Before beautiful things, it becomes beautiful like them and before ugly things, it becomes hideous like them.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Eight Quotes from the Fathers on the Mystery of the Eighth Day


Just as God rested on the seventh day (the seventh day is the end of creation and encompasses within itself the time coextensive with the creation of this world) after He had created the world, so the world, having completed its course, will rest in God on the eighth and final day, the ogdoad, the eternal day. Everyone who exercises diligence with regard to virtue has in mind the future life. Its beginning is called the "eighth," for it follows this perceptible time when the number seven is dissolved. By necessity, we as human beings must establish a foothold in time and prudently use it if we wish to meet the eighth day of eternity. Thus the week of seven days falls back on itself, thereby forming a circle. Such a measure of time's totality exists until things endowed with motion cease and are supplanted by the eighth day. Eschatologically, the Lord's Resurrection is also seen as the eighth day, for it will bring about our own resurrection on the eighth day.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Russian Patriarch Warns Smartphone Users To Be Careful of the Antichrist


Smartphone Users Warned to be Careful of the Antichrist

People's dependence on smartphones and modern technology could bring about the coming of the Antichrist, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church has warned.

By Anastasia Clark and Chris Bell
8 January 2019

Russian social media users largely responded with humour and scepticism, while some accused the Church of "serving the regime".

Speaking to Russian state TV, Patriarch Kirill said smartphone users should be careful when using the "worldwide web of gadgets" because it represented "an opportunity to gain global control over mankind".

"The Antichrist is the person who will be at the head of the worldwide web, controlling all of humankind," he said.