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Hinterlander
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« on: September 08, 2013, 04:31:16 PM »

I have a question regarding the Orthodox view of the present day state of Orthodoxy as compared to the past.

I came across the following quote, "In the times of Nil Sorsky, three centuries before us, living vessels of divine grace were extremely rare, "had diminished exceedingly," according to his expression. Now they are so rare that it will be scarcely an exaggeration to say that they no longer exist." This quote is from St. Ignatius Brianchaninov's On the Prayer of Jesus page 36.  

Is this observation part of an understanding that in the "last times" faith will be scarce ( Luke 18:8 ) or is more of a commentary on the current health of Orthodoxy in Russia at the time?  Do many Orthodox today have a similar assessment of the health of their own Church?

This sort of thinking reminds me a lot of the prophets and the "darkness" of Micah 3:6.  Could the current darkness and faithlessness be similar to the dearth of prophet writings in the centuries prior to Advent?
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« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2013, 04:36:59 PM »

People always tend to idealise a non-existent past and contrast it with their own time.

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« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2013, 06:16:33 PM »

I have a question regarding the Orthodox view of the present day state of Orthodoxy as compared to the past.

I came across the following quote, "In the times of Nil Sorsky, three centuries before us, living vessels of divine grace were extremely rare, "had diminished exceedingly," according to his expression. Now they are so rare that it will be scarcely an exaggeration to say that they no longer exist." This quote is from St. Ignatius Brianchaninov's On the Prayer of Jesus page 36.  

1.  Is this observation part of an understanding that in the "last times" faith will be scarce ( Luke 18:8 ) or is more of a commentary on the current health of Orthodoxy in Russia at the time? 

2.  Do many Orthodox today have a similar assessment of the health of their own Church?

This sort of thinking reminds me a lot of the prophets and the "darkness" of Micah 3:6.  

3.  Could the current darkness and faithlessness be similar to the dearth of prophet writings in the centuries prior to Advent?


People always tend to idealise a non-existent past and contrast it with their own time.

This is not an answer to any of the above questions but a criticism of the OP.
Hinterlander, its best you try and find an Orthodox priest who can answer your questions and maybe share them here.
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« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2013, 07:47:30 PM »

People always tend to idealise a non-existent past and contrast it with their own time.

Is that what St. Ignatius is doing?  I've heard similar sentiments by other Orthodox authors. 
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« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2013, 07:49:09 PM »

People always tend to idealise a non-existent past and contrast it with their own time.

Is that what St. Ignatius is doing?  I've heard similar sentiments by other Orthodox authors. 

Seems to be. There are multiple stories in the Desert Fathers with a similar moral to them. *shrugs*
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« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2013, 07:57:42 PM »

People always tend to idealise a non-existent past and contrast it with their own time.

Is that what St. Ignatius is doing?  I've heard similar sentiments by other Orthodox authors. 

Seems to be. There are multiple stories in the Desert Fathers with a similar moral to them. *shrugs*

Wouldn't "idealizing a non-existent past" be a form of delusion?
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« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2013, 08:01:10 PM »

If by delusion you mean a wrongly held belief, then sure. If by that you mean something more serious, then only possibly IMO. Sometimes it is just humility exaggerated beyond proper bounds.
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« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2013, 08:39:20 PM »

If by delusion you mean a wrongly held belief, then sure. If by that you mean something more serious, then only possibly IMO. Sometimes it is just humility exaggerated beyond proper bounds.

Or a ramped up nostalgia for the "good old days."  Viewing the past through rose colored glasses is a common human affliction and we in the Church are hardly immune to this.
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« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2013, 10:48:44 PM »

People always tend to idealise a non-existent past and contrast it with their own time.

Is that what St. Ignatius is doing?  I've heard similar sentiments by other Orthodox authors. 

Seems to be. There are multiple stories in the Desert Fathers with a similar moral to them. *shrugs*

Wouldn't "idealizing a non-existent past" be a form of delusion?

No. And I don't think what Cyrillic said really applies in this case.
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« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2013, 10:56:29 PM »






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« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2013, 10:59:18 PM »

Is this observation part of an understanding that in the "last times" faith will be scarce ( Luke 18:8 ) or is more of a commentary on the current health of Orthodoxy in Russia at the time?
There were terrifying things going on in the Russian Church at the time of St. Nilus.
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« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2013, 11:41:06 PM »

Is this observation part of an understanding that in the "last times" faith will be scarce ( Luke 18:8 ) or is more of a commentary on the current health of Orthodoxy in Russia at the time?
There were terrifying things going on in the Russian Church at the time of St. Nilus.

So perhaps St. Ignatius comments that I quoted in the OP were more concerned with what the Russian Church was experiencing in his own day and previously in the days of St. Nilus of Sora?

As for the pictures you've posted, I recognized Met. Anthony and Elder Paisos.  I didn't recognize Elder Porphyrios but I was just reading Wounded By Love before sitting down.

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« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2013, 05:05:08 PM »

@OP

There is often a case that people idealize the past regarding different segments of lives from minor topics to the important one. "In my days..." you will hear....
BUT...
When it comes to this topic (or even a bit broader overview of Christians before vs now) there is some visible distinction...without goinintogreat details...Even wit.
hout considering the apocalyptic wave present in some Orthodox circles, there is a consistency in Orthodox teachings about the lack (not complete dissapearance) of startzi-elders.

Let's go even a step further and acknowledge the widely accepted (and even easily confirmed teaching) about how spiritually inadequate we are...
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« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2013, 05:09:27 PM »

Yes to q1.  Yes to q2.  Will let others answers q3
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« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2013, 03:08:57 AM »

Well, it seems when you look at lists of bishops for a bishopric, there is a negative correlation of saint bishops as time goes forward. Perhaps this is evidence that as time goes on further from the time Christ was on the earth in Jerusalem, the less people believe.

Also, another saint monk said that there at his time (first millenium) there were only three people in the world who had, what you said, filled with divine grace (such as, God will listen to whatever they pray for, and perform miracles)



Sometimes I read from other holy people, that in the end times it will be almost impossible to find a true christian, there will be so few left and that is when Christ will come. It reminds me of Sodom and Gemorrah, trying to find enough righteous people to merit saving it but when it got to a point where there were so few it was finally destroyed

about your question of what one thinks of the health of the church,

I think personally, no it is not doing very well. Schisms, secularism, innovationism, and modernism all at once. Where are the saints to show us the correct path? They are too few and they hide themselves. Some people still say though, that God will one day send another St. Gregory Palamas, another St. John Chrysostom, another St. Basil another St. Mark Ephesus

I don't think we deserve them to come again though. I don't think people want to listen to saints anymore they only want to listen to themselves. Me included


Some people might have the opposite outlook on the church, but again it was just my person opinion
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« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2013, 03:29:06 AM »

Well, it seems when you look at lists of bishops for a bishopric, there is a negative correlation of saint bishops as time goes forward. Perhaps this is evidence that as time goes on further from the time Christ was on the earth in Jerusalem, the less people believe.

Also, another saint monk said that there at his time (first millenium) there were only three people in the world who had, what you said, filled with divine grace (such as, God will listen to whatever they pray for, and perform miracles)



Sometimes I read from other holy people, that in the end times it will be almost impossible to find a true christian, there will be so few left and that is when Christ will come. It reminds me of Sodom and Gemorrah, trying to find enough righteous people to merit saving it but when it got to a point where there were so few it was finally destroyed

about your question of what one thinks of the health of the church,

I think personally, no it is not doing very well. Schisms, secularism, innovationism, and modernism all at once. Where are the saints to show us the correct path? They are too few and they hide themselves. Some people still say though, that God will one day send another St. Gregory Palamas, another St. John Chrysostom, another St. Basil another St. Mark Ephesus

I don't think we deserve them to come again though. I don't think people want to listen to saints anymore they only want to listen to themselves. Me included


Some people might have the opposite outlook on the church, but again it was just my person opinion

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And Jesus said we were evil.
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will your Father who is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him?
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« Reply #16 on: September 10, 2013, 06:17:56 AM »

It seems to me that throughout history, man has always felt that times were holier or somehow more spiritually correct in the past. I was taught not to worry about this or get depressed about it as it is God's will that we live when we live in the here and now. We have been given the spiritual tools and the guides necessary to navigate our path to Theosis and salvation so have to deal with it. As to a new Chrysostom or Palamas, rather than sit and wait for one to appear, I am reminded of the parable of the rich man and the beggar, Lazarus. The rich man realizes too late that he failed to live a righteous life and from the torments of hell he implores Abraham to allow him to return to life to warn his brothers to follow the way of the Lord. The answer then is, I suspect, the same one given to those who lament "if only we had more holy saints in our midst..."  Abraham replies quite clearly,  ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
(Luke 16:29) and  ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ (Luke 16:31). Rather than await a new Chrysostom and others, let us listen to them and the promise of our Risen Savior which they steadfastly proclaimed to the ages.
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« Reply #17 on: September 10, 2013, 08:20:29 AM »

It seems to me that throughout history, man has always felt that times were holier or somehow more spiritually correct in the past. I was taught not to worry about this or get depressed about it as it is God's will that we live when we live in the here and now. We have been given the spiritual tools and the guides necessary to navigate our path to Theosis and salvation so have to deal with it. As to a new Chrysostom or Palamas, rather than sit and wait for one to appear, I am reminded of the parable of the rich man and the beggar, Lazarus. The rich man realizes too late that he failed to live a righteous life and from the torments of hell he implores Abraham to allow him to return to life to warn his brothers to follow the way of the Lord. The answer then is, I suspect, the same one given to those who lament "if only we had more holy saints in our midst..."  Abraham replies quite clearly,  ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
(Luke 16:29) and  ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ (Luke 16:31). Rather than await a new Chrysostom and others, let us listen to them and the promise of our Risen Savior which they steadfastly proclaimed to the ages.

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« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2013, 05:58:53 PM »


"In the times of Nil Sorsky, three centuries before us, living vessels of divine grace were extremely rare, "had diminished exceedingly," according to his expression. Now they are so rare that it will be scarcely an exaggeration to say that they no longer exist." This quote is from St. Ignatius Brianchaninov's On the Prayer of Jesus page 36.  

Is this observation part of an understanding that in the "last times" faith will be scarce ( Luke 18:8 )


If you compare the Modern Icons of today, with early Icons you can see there are differences. They may be subtle, but they are changed. This indicates - on  a certain level - some knowledge has been lost. Christ wears Red, Blue and Gold in specific shapes to indicate certain Mysteries. Some modern Icons do not even have the Red or Gold, or are in the wrong shape. The banded halo holds a Mystery also.
Eg.The tassels of the Theotokos had a certain shape / style to instruct the viewer, etc. The Baby Jesus wore White and Gold to show the transformation on one level.

Details of the Last Supper, resurrection etc. are not the same nowadays.
I believe part of the reasons why there are fewer 'Living Vessels' today is there has been a weakening of the
depth of knowledge passed on. Apparently, in the early days of Christianity if you said to a stranger you were
a Christian they would tremble. Nowadays if you tell that to someone they will probably smirk quietly to themselves.

So much has been lost. Satan and his minions must have done an excellent job over the centuries, dividing and obscuring.

I believe there is hope though for a revival. Some Elders eg. Paisios have prophesied a return to a Golden period of Orthodoxy, though this may only last a few score years. Hopefully many Christian Souls can be saved, before the light is denied us again.

There are certain sources of knowledge and resources of nature, that are now more readily available.
Thank God for the Icon makers!
There is always the danger that Mysteries will be revealed to the profane and used by the Anti-Christ to delude the Faithful with Wondrous signs.

But how can Mysteries be passed to the worthy and not the unworthy?
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« Reply #19 on: September 10, 2013, 06:15:13 PM »

I heard from someone that as long as there are people who yearn for the salvation of God that, the Son of man will not come on the clouds.

We also have to remember the history of the Church has always been terrible. Let's see, the Romans, the Jews, the Muslims, the Crusaders and the Communists. Lot's of bad things happened in the history of the Church. I have always seconded this when I have been inquiring into Orthodoxy, but recognize that the Church never had a "Golden Age" without martyrs.

Let us pray that our progeny will become the new Athanasius, the new Cyril, the new Ignatius, Photios and Gregory Palamas and lead us to the new "Golden Age of Orthodoxy."

If that new age never comes, let's stay watchful for the son of man coming in power, upon the clouds of heaven.

Raise your children well!
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« Reply #20 on: October 12, 2013, 10:20:30 PM »

If you search among the sayings of the desert fathers and other saints of the first few centuries of the Church you will find these two following stories which I will tell as best as I remember them.

1). A holy elder had a vision once of an angel and the Lord. Between the angel and the Lord flowed a river wide and swift. The angel was very beautiful with great spreading wings of many wondrous colors. The Lord raised His hand and called to the angel, saying "Come!" And the angel lifted up his wings and leapt into the air and soared with ease to stand by the side of his Lord and Master. 

Another angel appeared almost the equal of the first in glory, and also with great and spreading wings of wondrous colors. Likewise, the Lord called to this angel and said, "Come!" The angel lifted up his wings, leapt into the air soared with ease to stand beside his brother angel with the Lord, their Master.

After this appeared a third angel, also very beautiful and glorious, but with small wings not like the greatness of the wings of the other angels at all except in their wondrous color. To this angel the Lord called, "Come!" The third angle spread his wings as wide as he was able and leapt into the air. But he did not soar. It was only with furious beating of his wings that he stayed in the air at all, and every inch, every foot he made towards the Lord was slow and unsteady. Many times his feet began to drag the water. Sometimes he sang nearly too his knees in the flood, but each time he began to falter, he wept, and cried out to the Lord for mercy and for help. "Come!" The Lord replied, and the angel redoubled his efforts and struggled that much the harder to rise up once more above the raging waters, again and again. Finally after a long while, great labors, and many tears he too took his place beside the the Lord, His Master and His God.

The guardian angel of the elder asked him if he understood the vision he had just witnessed. The elder replied that he did not. So, the elder's angel answered and said, there will be two great ages of monastics who will do great things and work many wonders, that is the Lord's gift to them; but the monastics of the third age will hardly do any wonders at all, and it will be all they can do to keep from perishing in the river. To them the Lord will give mainly tears and repentance and this later angel will be the greatest of them all.

2) One somewhat younger but still accomplished monk asked his elder about how that in times past it seemed the holy ascetics did many great wonders, yet in their own times these seemed much diminished, and he wonder if this continued what would it be like for those who followed them.  The elder replied that the first generations of Christians did twice as much compared to more recent generations, and those generations that are to follow their own will do half as much again as the present generations, and those generations who come at the very end will struggle just to keep their garments clean; they will know weeping and sorrow for their sins, yet they will be the greatest generation of all.

Between these two stories, I think a useful answer may be found.
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« Reply #21 on: October 12, 2013, 10:30:28 PM »

If you compare the Modern Icons of today, with early Icons you can see there are differences. They may be subtle, but they are changed. This indicates - on  a certain level - some knowledge has been lost. Christ wears Red, Blue and Gold in specific shapes to indicate certain Mysteries. Some modern Icons do not even have the Red or Gold, or are in the wrong shape. The banded halo holds a Mystery also.
Eg.The tassels of the Theotokos had a certain shape / style to instruct the viewer, etc. The Baby Jesus wore White and Gold to show the transformation on one level.
I can answer this, and of course LBK can correct me if she needs to, but because there has been theological development in the Church and also differentiating between various heresies, it is only inevitable that the iconography of the Church must change
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« Reply #22 on: October 15, 2013, 07:49:05 PM »

Re: question #3 Have you looked at this in light of the Protestant churches having a different canon of scripture than the Orthodox?
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