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Author Topic: The Antirrhetikos is freaking me out  (Read 3390 times) Average Rating: 0
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Salpy
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« on: May 27, 2011, 02:30:05 AM »

My eyes are bad, so I got a Nook to read with.  It came with some stuff already loaded in it, like Little Women, Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice.  

I thought it would do me good, however, to read some more of St. Evagrius.  A while back, I read his Praktikos and Chapters on Prayer:

http://www.amazon.com/Evagrius-Ponticus-Praktikos-Chapters-Cistercian/dp/0879079045

So I thought this time I would get his Antirrhetikos:

http://www.amazon.com/Evagrius-Pontus-Talking-Back-Cistercian/dp/0879073292

In this book, St. Evagrius takes the eight categories of bad thoughts that tempt us, breaks them down into further thoughts and temptations, and gives us Bible verses to help us cut the bad thoughts off.  

Now I know that St. Evagrius has a very no-nonsense, uncompromising approach to sin.  I wonder, however, if I can make it though this book.  I guess I am a spiritual wimp, or something, but this is kind of getting to me.

Here's an example:

Quote
3.  Against the thoughts that stir up in us the desire to eat meat on a feast day and that advise us also to eat on account of the body's illness:

And to the people say, "Purify yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat, ... You shall not eat one day, not two, not five days, not ten days, and not twenty days.  For a month of days you shall eat, until it [the meat] comes out of your nostrils.  And it shall be nausea to you because you disobeyed the Lord, who is among you" (Num 11:18-20).

I'm not sure I'll ever eat meat again.  

Has anyone else read this book?  Am I being too squeamish?
« Last Edit: May 27, 2011, 02:33:22 AM by Salpy » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2011, 07:21:49 AM »

I don't know anything about this saint, but is it possible he was a monk and writing for monks?  Obviously some things carry over from monastacism to the rest of the Christian world, but there are things that don't.  I was completely unaware of any OO saying that meat is bad for non-monastics to eat except on a fast day, which is why the Copts were angry when so many pigs were slaughtered in Egypt because of the swine flu epidemic.  So, could it be that he was writing to monastics when he says that it is a temptation to want to eat meat on a feast?
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« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2011, 09:15:26 AM »

I don't know anything about this saint, but is it possible he was a monk and writing for monks?  Obviously some things carry over from monastacism to the rest of the Christian world, but there are things that don't.  I was completely unaware of any OO saying that meat is bad for non-monastics to eat except on a fast day, which is why the Copts were angry when so many pigs were slaughtered in Egypt because of the swine flu epidemic.  So, could it be that he was writing to monastics when he says that it is a temptation to want to eat meat on a feast?

The swine has nothing to do with mainstream Copts.  The swine that were killed belonged to a subgroup of poor Copts called the "Zaballeen" (literally, "Garbage people") who live under the poorest of conditions next to a dump.  The two biggest source of income for these people are pork (raising them, selling them, and eating them; so it was the biggest and cheapest source of food as well) and recycling the dump and selling the cleaned and rebuilt parts, something the government also is trying to take away from them.

So it's more of a deliberate targeting of a specific group of Copts who need pork and recycling to survive.
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« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2011, 09:18:43 AM »

Ahh, I knew that it was a government attack on the Copts, but I didn't realize that it was just (or at least mostly just) poor Copts who raised them.
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« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2011, 10:05:00 AM »

Evagrios/Evagrius of Pontus is not a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Churches.
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« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2011, 10:11:47 AM »

My eyes are bad, so I got a Nook to read with.  It came with some stuff already loaded in it, like Little Women, Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice.  

I thought it would do me good, however, to read some more of St. Evagrius.  A while back, I read his Praktikos and Chapters on Prayer:

http://www.amazon.com/Evagrius-Ponticus-Praktikos-Chapters-Cistercian/dp/0879079045

So I thought this time I would get his Antirrhetikos:

http://www.amazon.com/Evagrius-Pontus-Talking-Back-Cistercian/dp/0879073292

In this book, St. Evagrius takes the eight categories of bad thoughts that tempt us, breaks them down into further thoughts and temptations, and gives us Bible verses to help us cut the bad thoughts off.  

Now I know that St. Evagrius has a very no-nonsense, uncompromising approach to sin.  I wonder, however, if I can make it though this book.  I guess I am a spiritual wimp, or something, but this is kind of getting to me.

Here's an example:

Quote
3.  Against the thoughts that stir up in us the desire to eat meat on a feast day and that advise us also to eat on account of the body's illness:

And to the people say, "Purify yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat, ... You shall not eat one day, not two, not five days, not ten days, and not twenty days.  For a month of days you shall eat, until it [the meat] comes out of your nostrils.  And it shall be nausea to you because you disobeyed the Lord, who is among you" (Num 11:18-20).

I'm not sure I'll ever eat meat again.  

Has anyone else read this book?  Am I being too squeamish?


 I've never heard of it before, but now, thanks to you, I'm researching it and will probably end up purchasing it.  As to your last question, I don't think any of us are qualified to answer whether or not you're too squeamish but it seems in general that our culture has veered away from the seriousness of sin.  Thanks again, though, for sharing this with us.
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« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2011, 10:14:24 AM »

Evagrios/Evagrius of Pontus is not a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

That's why Salpy is posting this in the sub-forum "Oriental Orthodox Discussion" for Non-Chalcedonian-specific issues. Evagrius is a saint in their Church.

Even if we Eastern Orthodox do not consider him a saint, his writings are very good.

Salpy, in regards to the meat, he is writing to monks. Carry on.
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« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2011, 10:33:47 AM »

Thanks, Father.  I guess the reason this one got to me is because even though St. Evagrius was writing about feast days, cheating on fasting days is an issue for me.  I'm horrible at fasting.  Well, I guess the image St. Evagrius presented will make me think twice before I chomp on ribs during Lent again.   Smiley 

He did write this for monks who shouldn't be eating lots of meat on feast days, but aren't we all supposed to hold ourselves to a high standard?  I have always been a bit confused about how we are supposed to apply to ourselves writings like this that were written for monks.  A few years back I read the Ladder of Divine Ascent, and I got downright depressed when I realized I am not even on the ladder.  I guess we are supposed to apply these writings to our lives in a different way than the monks do.
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« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2011, 11:00:05 AM »

Yes, we should hold ourselves to a high standard. Monks should not eat meat ever (unless there is some medical necessity) but we who can eat meat should never overindulge in it.

What I do when I read things like the Ladder is try to understand what I can do to improve my situation now, and bring it closer to what is presented in the text. I know that I am not going to make it all the way any time soon, but what matters most is staying the course, and keep trudging along. Christ judges us based on a lot of criteria, and only He can tell if we have progress...only He knows our hearts.  So just take it one step at a time.

These texts show us how utterly low we are, so that we will never brag about the small victories we might have. For instance, if you get to the point where you keep Lent completely: So what? Now try not eating until 3 pm every day at all Smiley  The idea is not to crush you, but to say, "Hey, when you do something good, thank God. Don't let it go to your head."  Keeping humble, and loving and trusting in God, is what will get you saved.
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« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2011, 11:00:16 AM »

Evagrios/Evagrius of Pontus is not a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Why is that?
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« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2011, 11:03:53 AM »

Evagrios/Evagrius of Pontus is not a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Why is that?

He was condemned posthumously by the 5th Ecumenical Council for Origenist sympathies (pre-existence of the soul, etc).  Origenism was a powerful force that took hold of various monastic communities even through the 500s, which explains why it was still important enough to condemn in 553. Obviously, since the Non-Chalcedonians were not with the EO at this time, they didn't join in the judgment, and have their own opinion that he is a saint.
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« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2011, 11:15:40 AM »

Well that explains it. Thanks, Father. Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2011, 12:08:37 PM »

From what I understand, he is still a saint in the Georgian Orthodox Church, since they were not with the Chalcedonians during Constantinople II, but were still OO at that time.

I think some modern scholars have debated whether he was really an Origenist.  Evidently he never mentions Origen in any of his writings.  Regardless, his writings were valuable enough to monks in the Chalcedonian monasteries, that after his condemnation they began ascribing his writings to other saints so they could keep them and not have to burn them.
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« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2011, 02:03:38 PM »


Even if we Eastern Orthodox do not consider him a saint, his writings are very good.


Father bless; If I may springboard from your comments with my own...

I'm not necessarily endorsing this particular book per se (although I have ordered it already  Shocked Smiley), I would like to say that, based on the information re: the teachings contained, it doesn't seem to go against Eastern Orthodox teachings.  For example, although I haven't seen the word Logismoi used, it seems that this is exactly what is being addressed and this is a part of Eastern Orthodox teaching.  I cannot wait til my copy arrives!
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« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2011, 08:12:32 PM »


Even if we Eastern Orthodox do not consider him a saint, his writings are very good.


Father bless; If I may springboard from your comments with my own...

I'm not necessarily endorsing this particular book per se (although I have ordered it already  Shocked Smiley), I would like to say that, based on the information re: the teachings contained, it doesn't seem to go against Eastern Orthodox teachings.  For example, although I haven't seen the word Logismoi used, it seems that this is exactly what is being addressed and this is a part of Eastern Orthodox teaching.  I cannot wait til my copy arrives!

I didn't know what Logismoi was, so I looked it up:

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Logismoi

It seems this book is exactly what that is about, and it seems St. Evagrius was among the earliest to develop the concept.

I learned a new word today.  Cool.   Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2011, 10:23:10 PM »

How can (St.?) Evagrius be a saint in the Georgian Church but not in the rest of the EO communion?  Does his consideration as a saint in the Georgian Church require that the rest of the Orthodox Church accept him as a saint?  Or at least leave open the possibility for private veneration (something I am under the impression is not allowed of condemned persons)?
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« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2011, 11:10:44 PM »

It's an odd situation.  It just seems that when the Georgians were accepted into communion with the EO's they were not required to condemn St. Evagrius.  I really don't know why. 
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« Reply #17 on: May 27, 2011, 11:37:00 PM »

Hmm...that's bizzare and something that perhaps the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council should consider
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« Reply #18 on: May 28, 2011, 12:08:34 AM »


Even if we Eastern Orthodox do not consider him a saint, his writings are very good.


Father bless; If I may springboard from your comments with my own...

I'm not necessarily endorsing this particular book per se (although I have ordered it already  Shocked Smiley), I would like to say that, based on the information re: the teachings contained, it doesn't seem to go against Eastern Orthodox teachings.  For example, although I haven't seen the word Logismoi used, it seems that this is exactly what is being addressed and this is a part of Eastern Orthodox teaching.  I cannot wait til my copy arrives!

I didn't know what Logismoi was, so I looked it up:

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Logismoi

It seems this book is exactly what that is about, and it seems St. Evagrius was among the earliest to develop the concept.

I learned a new word today.  Cool.   Smiley

 Well it seems as if we both contributed something to each others' journey; you introduced me to what promises to be an amazing book and I introduced you to a new Orthodox term.  One of the many cool things about this forum I reckon. Smiley 

 I first learned about Logimoi through Dr. Kyriakos Markides' book, The Mountain of Silence (which the Wiki article references).  After a little searching, I discovered and purchased Confronting and Controlling Thoughts: According to the Fathers of the Philokalia by Fr. Anthony Coniaris.  I believe this little book to be a great introduction (after Dr. Markides' book) to Evagrius' book.  At any rate, I highly recommend Orthodox Christians to thoroughly acquaint themselves with Logismoi and how to combat them. 
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« Reply #19 on: May 28, 2011, 12:51:52 AM »

Hmm...that's bizzare and something that perhaps the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council should consider

I believe that's the least important issue today that a Pan-Orthodox council should consider, unless his writings for some reason are causing major unavoidable problems.
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« Reply #20 on: May 28, 2011, 08:07:31 AM »

yeah, if they don't have enough problems, we can recommend some new ones...
lol

i didn't quite understand what is 'antirrhetikos', sounds like an unpleasant illness.
i opened the post as i noticed salpy has lots of cool posts, but i am a bit lost on this one.

as for meat coming out of the nostrils, it was mentioned in the book of numbers as a punishment for gluttony (greed).
i think it's the earliest historical record of aversive therapy for addictions  Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: May 28, 2011, 10:33:53 AM »

yeah, if they don't have enough problems, we can recommend some new ones...
lol

i didn't quite understand what is 'antirrhetikos', sounds like an unpleasant illness.
i opened the post as i noticed salpy has lots of cool posts, but i am a bit lost on this one.

The guy who translated the book, David Brakke, translated "Antirrhetikos" as "Talking Back."  Basically, St. Evagrius is giving us Bible verses to help us "talk back" to bad thoughts in order to cut them off before they can do harm.

Like when I get a thought telling me in would be OK to eat meat during Lent just this once,  I can cut off the thought with the Bible verse about meat coming out of the nostrils.

Quote
as for meat coming out of the nostrils, it was mentioned in the book of numbers as a punishment for gluttony (greed).
i think it's the earliest historical record of aversive therapy for addictions  Smiley

This one might actually work on me.
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« Reply #22 on: May 28, 2011, 08:42:17 PM »

Hmm...that's bizzare and something that perhaps the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council should consider

I believe that's the least important issue today that a Pan-Orthodox council should consider, unless his writings for some reason are causing major unavoidable problems.

I admit it isn't a great and important issue immediately right now.  However, imagine we get closer to union of the OO and the EO.  The OO have more than a millenia and a half of saints who they will not want to give up.  Is it really a good thing when these two Churches are united, to have half of them teaching "This man is a saint" and the other half teaching "This man is a heretic and a schismatic"?  The reason they ought to address it (though I admit the liklihood of that is slim to none) is because it will be one more obstacle out of the way for the union of the OO and the EO.
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« Reply #23 on: May 28, 2011, 08:57:28 PM »

Hmm...that's bizzare and something that perhaps the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council should consider

I believe that's the least important issue today that a Pan-Orthodox council should consider, unless his writings for some reason are causing major unavoidable problems.

I admit it isn't a great and important issue immediately right now.  However, imagine we get closer to union of the OO and the EO.  The OO have more than a millenia and a half of saints who they will not want to give up.  Is it really a good thing when these two Churches are united, to have half of them teaching "This man is a saint" and the other half teaching "This man is a heretic and a schismatic"?  The reason they ought to address it (though I admit the liklihood of that is slim to none) is because it will be one more obstacle out of the way for the union of the OO and the EO.

The question isn't the person.  It's the heresies.  Is the Church professing the heresies of this said saint?

We have a few examples of Orthodox saints who may have held heretical opinions, such as St. Augustine and St. Gregory of Nyssa (who was considered more of an Origenist than Origen himself).

That's why this is not a big deal.  It shouldn't be.  It's a big deal if the Church actually takes up some teachings that happen to be unOrthodox.  If it's because of a particular saint, then maybe then the Church will be clear.
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« Reply #24 on: May 28, 2011, 10:11:05 PM »

Hmm...that's bizzare and something that perhaps the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council should consider

I believe that's the least important issue today that a Pan-Orthodox council should consider, unless his writings for some reason are causing major unavoidable problems.

I admit it isn't a great and important issue immediately right now.  However, imagine we get closer to union of the OO and the EO.  The OO have more than a millenia and a half of saints who they will not want to give up.  Is it really a good thing when these two Churches are united, to have half of them teaching "This man is a saint" and the other half teaching "This man is a heretic and a schismatic"?  The reason they ought to address it (though I admit the liklihood of that is slim to none) is because it will be one more obstacle out of the way for the union of the OO and the EO.

If we're going to get into the issue of saints, Evagrius would be the least of our problems. At the top of the list would be Leo, Dioscorus, and Severus. I think we can- we must- move on without trying to come to a definitive judgment of these men that everyone is expected to hold. If we cannot reconcile without universally condemning or glorifying these personages, then reconciliation won't happen at all. I think in the event of a reconciliation there are bound to be many incongruities like this that only time can resolve.
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« Reply #25 on: May 31, 2011, 11:51:11 AM »

How can (St.?) Evagrius be a saint in the Georgian Church but not in the rest of the EO communion?  Does his consideration as a saint in the Georgian Church require that the rest of the Orthodox Church accept him as a saint?  Or at least leave open the possibility for private veneration (something I am under the impression is not allowed of condemned persons)?

Wait, how is one sure that Evagrius of Pontus is a saint in the Georgian Orthodox Church? Are you sure it's the same Evagrius? There are several saints of the same name, a few of them native Georgians (Evagre).
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« Reply #26 on: May 31, 2011, 12:19:53 PM »

I've heard it and read it a few places that he is a saint in the Georgian Church.  I would like, however, to get ahold of the Georgian Church's calendar to see for sure. 

In the introduction to The Praktikos and Chapters on Prayer, referenced above, it says, "The Georgian Church, which considers Evagrius a native son, holds him in the highest honor and considers him its first monk.  See M. Tarchnisvili, p. 307, op. cit." (p. lviii)


This Georgian website states the following about him in paragraph 4:

Quote
This period is noteworthy for the activities of famous Georgian theologians Evagrius Ponticus (Evagre Pontoeli, fourth century) and Peter the Iberian (Petre Iberi, fifth century).

http://rustaveli.tripod.com/christianity.htm


And then here you see:

Quote
Evagrius Ponticus - a major influence in the Byzantine tradition and a saint of the Armenian and Georgian Orthodox Churches, who share much of our Byzantine tradition.

http://students.cua.edu/16kalvesmaki/EvagPont/


Also:

Quote
Outstanding Georgian representatives of Christian culture included Evagrius Ponticus (Evagre Pontoeli, 4th century), Peter the Iberian (Petre Iberieli, 5th century), Euthymius of Athos (Ekvtime Atoneli, 955-1028), George of Athos (Giorgi Atoneli, 1009–1065), Arsen Ikaltoeli (11th century), and Epraim the Lesser (Eprem Mtsire, 11th century).

http://www.enotes.com/topic/Georgian_Orthodox_Church


Of course to be sure, I'd like to see a Georgian Church calendar, if anyone knows how to find one online.
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« Reply #27 on: May 31, 2011, 12:33:50 PM »

It would just seem odd. Peter the Iberian is not on the Georgian calendar, to my knowledge. And the Georgians accept the later councils which repeat the anathemas against Evagrius Ponticus.
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« Reply #28 on: May 31, 2011, 12:38:57 PM »

While it is likely that the Council Fathers had Evagrius in mind, he does not appear to be mentioned by name in the anathemas.
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« Reply #29 on: May 31, 2011, 01:22:57 PM »

It would just seem odd. Peter the Iberian is not on the Georgian calendar, to my knowledge.

Georgian icon of St. Peter the Iberian:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Peter_the_iberian.jpg




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And the Georgians accept the later councils which repeat the anathemas against Evagrius Ponticus.

But they didn't accept your fifth council until after the fact and after Sts. Evagrius and Peter the Iberian had been venerated by them for a while.

In fact, it seems that when the Georgians first united with the Chalcedonians, accepting the fifth council was not something they immediately did:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,16969.0.html
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« Reply #30 on: May 31, 2011, 01:24:59 PM »

While it is likely that the Council Fathers had Evagrius in mind, he does not appear to be mentioned by name in the anathemas.

I seem to recall that his condemnation was added to the council after it had been held.  If I find something on it, I'll link it.
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« Reply #31 on: May 31, 2011, 01:34:18 PM »

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,10964.msg150161.html#msg150161

The above is a rather long post by an EO named Grigorii, who used to post here.  He is a fan of St. Evagrius and gives a rather vigorous defense of him.  Part way through the post he goes into Constantinople II and how St. Evagrius is not explicitly mentioned.
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« Reply #32 on: May 31, 2011, 01:38:37 PM »

Evagrios/Evagrius of Pontus is not a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Why is that?

He was condemned posthumously by the 5th Ecumenical Council for Origenist sympathies (pre-existence of the soul, etc).  Origenism was a powerful force that took hold of various monastic communities even through the 500s, which explains why it was still important enough to condemn in 553. Obviously, since the Non-Chalcedonians were not with the EO at this time, they didn't join in the judgment, and have their own opinion that he is a saint.
Why isn't Origen considered a saint in the OO, if the the council that condemned his ideas was not accepted by the OO?
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« Reply #33 on: May 31, 2011, 01:59:20 PM »

Evagrios/Evagrius of Pontus is not a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Why is that?

He was condemned posthumously by the 5th Ecumenical Council for Origenist sympathies (pre-existence of the soul, etc).  Origenism was a powerful force that took hold of various monastic communities even through the 500s, which explains why it was still important enough to condemn in 553. Obviously, since the Non-Chalcedonians were not with the EO at this time, they didn't join in the judgment, and have their own opinion that he is a saint.
Why isn't Origen considered a saint in the OO, if the the council that condemned his ideas was not accepted by the OO?

Possibly because opinion had turned against him even before Chalcedon. Archbishop Theophilus of Alexandria was not a fan of Origen or Origenism, at least at the end of his life.
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« Reply #34 on: May 31, 2011, 08:26:10 PM »

I just had an e-mail exchange with someone who has studied St. Evagrius extensively, and he says he is not commemorated by the Georgians.

I so wish I had access to a Georgian calendar.
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« Reply #35 on: June 01, 2011, 12:35:40 AM »

OK, back to the Antirrhetikos.

I'm on the Fourth Book: Concerning the Thoughts of the Demon of Sadness.  This will be good for me since I tend to indulge in self-pity a lot.

Going back to the Chapter on Gluttony, though, it really opened my eyes on how hard the early monks were on themselves.  It seems St. Evagrius only ate bread and drank water.  Among other things, he warns against the temptation to eat vegetables.  He also gives Bible verses to help counter thoughts of worry over how the fasting devastates the body.  The way he writes about it, I get the feeling that he himself experienced physical harm to his body from all his fasting.  Yikes.  Are there any monks today who are this strict?
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« Reply #36 on: June 01, 2011, 02:35:39 PM »

i didn't meet anyone like this yet, but i want to stress that once people were doing this extreme fasting they were specifically guided to do this by God AND their spiritual father (so there is no recommendation for folks to go crazy and go off into the desert by themselves) and they regularly saw miracles and things happened that were supernatural, and God protected them.

i am sure this happens today, but not to many people, and we should sort out the basics first.
so if there is anyone here who is fasting perfectly, able to master gluttony, lust and pride, active in spreading the love of God, knowledgeble of the whole Bible and proficient in memorising the psalms and who feels they are not quite doing enough, please send a personal message, and i'll direct you to some monks i know!

LOL, i don't really expect anyone has reached this yet, but in the unlikely event of my inbox becoming full, i'll report back here...  Wink
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« Reply #37 on: June 01, 2011, 03:14:52 PM »

Yeah, this is definitely a "Don't try this at home!" type of thing.   Smiley
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« Reply #38 on: June 01, 2011, 04:38:05 PM »

no messages in my inbox yet...
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« Reply #39 on: June 01, 2011, 05:00:53 PM »

Salpy, what a great thread.  I'm partial to readings such as this.  Thanks for posting the information and your observations from the Antirrhetikos.

St. Evagrius had quite the resume:
Quote
St. Basil the Great tonsured Evagrius a reader, and St. Gregory the Theologian elevated him to diaconate. As a deacon, Evagrius Ponticus would attend the Second Ecumenical Council (First Constantinople) in 381, which formulated the last portion of the Nicene Creed (the article dealing with the Holy Spirit). After visiting Jerusalem, where Evagrius became a monk, he went to the Egyptian desert in 383. There his life would touch those of other saints such as St. Macarius of Alexandria, his mentor; and St. John Cassian, his disciple.http://www.orthodoxwiki.org/Evagrius_Ponticus

In terms of being squeemish, it seems that the source of the quotes is more to blame than Evagrius.  The Numbers selection is intense!   I look forward to reading more.
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« Reply #40 on: June 01, 2011, 05:05:35 PM »

so if there is anyone here who is fasting perfectly, able to master gluttony, lust and pride, active in spreading the love of God, knowledgeble of the whole Bible and proficient in memorising the psalms
That's me!  You left out mastering humility though.  No problem, I've done that too.

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who feels they are not quite doing enough, please send a personal message, and i'll direct you to some monks i know!
Ahh, Personal Message forthcoming.  I hope I can help those monks out with their spiritual failures.

 Wink
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« Reply #41 on: June 01, 2011, 05:49:36 PM »

so if there is anyone here who is fasting perfectly, able to master gluttony, lust and pride, active in spreading the love of God, knowledgeble of the whole Bible and proficient in memorising the psalms
That's me!  You left out mastering humility though.  No problem, I've done that too.

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who feels they are not quite doing enough, please send a personal message, and i'll direct you to some monks i know!
Ahh, Personal Message forthcoming.  I hope I can help those monks out with their spiritual failures.

 Wink

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« Reply #42 on: June 01, 2011, 05:57:16 PM »

Salpy,

 Can you tell a us a little what he says about sadness and which verses he uses to combat those types of thoughts?  I have S.A.D.* (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and so am sensitive to the topic.  Thanks!  Smiley


 *I realize that depression and feelings of self-pity are two different things.
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« Reply #43 on: June 01, 2011, 06:28:56 PM »

Well, as luck would have it, there is a website that has excerpts from St. Evagrius' writings, including the Antirrhetokos.  You can click on the left to get to some of the sayings from the chapter on sadness:

http://www.ldysinger.com/evagrius/07_Antirrhet/00a_start.htm

The impression I am getting from what I have read so far is that included in the term "sadness" are things like discouragement and giving up.  It's not just self-pity (my big issue) or what we today would call depression.

Here is an example from what I just linked:

Quote
4.12. For the human thoughts that arise within us saying that struggling against demons does us no good:

+ Deut 1:29-30  Fear not, nor be afraid of them; the Lord your God who goes before your face, he shall fight against them together with you effectually.


And again, there is some material that is a bit alarming:

Quote
4.36. For the Lord, concerning the demons that fall upon the skin of the body scorching like flames with their touch and then leave circular marks like those made by a cupping instrument. These I have often seen with [my] eyes and been amazed.

+ Ps 34:1-2  Judge, O Lord, those that injure me, fight against those who fight against me. 2Take hold of shield and buckler, and arise for my help.


From reading this book, as well as other things I have read in the past, like the Life of St. Anthony, I get the feeling that the Desert Fathers were confronted with demons in a very tangible form.  I guess that is what happens when one engages in such intense spiritual exercise. 
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« Reply #44 on: June 01, 2011, 07:01:31 PM »

Well, as luck would have it, there is a website that has excerpts from St. Evagrius' writings, including the Antirrhetokos.  You can click on the left to get to some of the sayings from the chapter on sadness:

http://www.ldysinger.com/evagrius/07_Antirrhet/00a_start.htm

The impression I am getting from what I have read so far is that included in the term "sadness" are things like discouragement and giving up.  It's not just self-pity (my big issue) or what we today would call depression.

Here is an example from what I just linked:

Quote
4.12. For the human thoughts that arise within us saying that struggling against demons does us no good:

+ Deut 1:29-30  Fear not, nor be afraid of them; the Lord your God who goes before your face, he shall fight against them together with you effectually.


And again, there is some material that is a bit alarming:

Quote
4.36. For the Lord, concerning the demons that fall upon the skin of the body scorching like flames with their touch and then leave circular marks like those made by a cupping instrument. These I have often seen with [my] eyes and been amazed.

+ Ps 34:1-2  Judge, O Lord, those that injure me, fight against those who fight against me. 2Take hold of shield and buckler, and arise for my help.


From reading this book, as well as other things I have read in the past, like the Life of St. Anthony, I get the feeling that the Desert Fathers were confronted with demons in a very tangible form.  I guess that is what happens when one engages in such intense spiritual exercise. 

 Thanks Salpy!  Very helpful indeed.  And regarding demons in a very tangible form, it wasn't just the Desert Fathers; Elder Cleopa of Romania talks extensively about a few demons that manifested themselves physically to harass him.  Re: those who don't believe they (demons) exist, he said (paraphrasing) that if you saw what he saw you could be chained to a giant oak tree and you would've ripped up the tree just to get away.  Lord, have mercy!
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