Friday, December 23, 2022

The Beggar Boy at Christ's Christmas Tree (Feodor Dostoevsky)

 The Beggar Boy at Christ's Christmas Tree

By Feodor Dostoevsky


I am a novelist, and I suppose I have made up this story. I write “I suppose,” though I know for a fact that I have made it up, but yet I keep fancying that it must have happened on Christmas Eve in some great town in a time of terrible frost.

I have a vision of a boy, a little boy, six years old or even younger. This boy woke up that morning in a cold damp cellar. He was dressed in a sort of little dressing-gown and was shivering with cold. There was a cloud of white steam from his breath, and sitting on a box in the corner, he blew the steam out of his mouth and amused himself in his dullness watching it float away. But he was terribly hungry. Several times that morning he went up to the plank bed where his sick mother was lying on a mattress as thin as a pancake, with some sort of bundle under her head for a pillow. How had she come here? She must have come with her boy from some other town and suddenly fallen ill. The landlady who let the “concerns” had been taken two days before the police station, the lodgers were out and about as the holiday was so near, and the only one left had been lying for the last twenty-four hours dead drunk, not having waited for Christmas. In another corner of the room a wretched old woman of eighty, who had once been a children’s nurse but was now left to die friendless, was moaning and groaning with rheumatism, scolding and grumbling at the boy so that he was afraid to go near her corner. He had got a drink of water in the outer room, but could not find a crust anywhere, and had been on the point of waking his mother a dozen times. He felt frightened at last in the darkness: it had long been dusk, but no light was kindled. Touching his mother’s face, he was surprised that she did not move at all, and that she was as cold as the wall. “It is very cold here,” he thought. He stood a little, unconsciously letting his hands rest on the dead woman’s shoulders, then he breathed on his fingers to warm them, and then quietly fumbling for his cap on the bed, he went out of the cellar. He would have gone earlier, but was afraid of the big dog which had been howling all day at the neighbor’s door at the top of the stairs. But the dog was not there now, and he went out into the street.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Christianity and Socialism (Hieromartyr Hilarion Troitsky)

 Christianity and Socialism
By the New Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky) [+1928]

[Note: This was a pamphlet St. Hilarion published in the intervening years between the failed 1905 Revolution and the unhappy 1917 Revolution.]

People swear by someone greater than themselves (Heb. 6:16).

This truth remains ever and everywhere immutable. Any single truth or any series of truths always comprise what is “greater” for man, and this “greater” is man’s authority; he refers to it, he “swears” by it. Yet the same truths are not what is “greater” for all men. Sometimes what is “greater” is entirely false; yet man nevertheless swears by this illusory “truth” as though it were authoritative. The measures by which men approach the phenomena of the life which surrounds us are quite varied. Each chooses that authority which seems best to him, and therefore one may accept the position: Tell me what your authorities are, and I will say what sort of man you are. In the past, men were different, and their authorities were also different. The word of God, the laws of the Church - in the past these were the eternally immutable and perfect authorities understood and held dear equally by all. If something were in accordance with the word of God, with the laws of the Church, it was good; if something were not in accordance with them, or contradicted them, it could not be good. I. T. Pososhkov wrote his “A Father’s Testament” precisely “to corroborate the divine Scriptures”; there he states with certainty: “All of us who live in the Orthodox Faith know this well: that all truth is contained in the words of the Lord”; and to his son he says: “My son, I firmly exhort and adjure thee, that with all thy strength thou hold fast to the Holy Eastern Church as the Mother who gave thee birth... and that thou cut off from thyself all who oppose the Holy Church, and have no amicable relations with them of any sort, for they are the enemies of God.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

The Girl Mouse Seeks a Groom (A Fairy Tale by Photios Kontoglou)

When Photios Kontoglou spoke and wrote about "blessed simplicity", he did not preach "from the pulpit", nor pretend to be a teacher to others about things that are good in theory, but not to put them into practice himself. He was a simple man in everything, since the truth is always simple, and that is why he loved, among other things, simple conversations, simple stories and most of all fairy tales - especially oriental ones.

On the other hand, as he said, "we Greeks have a bad habit of considering foreign things better than our own, so we end up imitating everything, as long as it is foreign. We here can start chanting 'Ti Hypermacho' with instruments and polyphony and everyone will find it normal and a sign of progress. But if we go to La Scala in Milan and start chanting 'Ave Maria' to a tsamiko they will kick us out - and rightly so."