Wednesday, October 26, 2016

St. Cedd, Founder of Lastingham, Bishop and Apostle of the East Saxons

St Cedd, Founder of Lastingham, Bishop and Apostle of the East Saxons was born in Northumbria, England and died October 26, 664. Cedd was raised together with his brother Saint Chad. He became a monk at Lindisfarne and in 653 was sent with three other priests to evangelize the Middle Angles when their King Peada was baptized by Saint Finan of Lindisfarne in 653, at the court of his father-in-law, Oswy of Northumbria.
After working in that field for a time he was called to harvest a new one in East Anglia (Essex), when King Sigebert was converted and baptized by Finan. He and another priest travelled throughout the midlands to evaluate the situation. Then Cedd returned to Lindisfarne to confer with Finan, who consecrated him bishop of the East Saxons in 654. Cedd returned to Essex and spent the rest of his life with the Saxons--building churches, founding monasteries (at Bradwell-on-the-Sea (Ythancaestir, Othona), Tilbury, and Lastingham), and ordaining priests and deacons to continue the work of evangelisation.

Lastingham, originally called Laestingaeu, was built in 658 on a tract of inaccessible land in Yorkshire donated by King Ethelwald of Deira. Here Cedd spent 40 days in prayer and fasting to consecrate the place to God according to the custom of Lindisfarne, derived from Saint Columba. All three of the monasteries he built were destroyed by the Danes and never restored.
He attended the Synod of Whitby in 664, where he accepted the Roman observances, and died of the plague at Lastingham, Yorkshire. At the news of his death, 30 of his brethren among the East Saxons came to Lastingham to consecrate their lives where their holy father in faith had died. But they, too, were all killed by the same plague, except one unbaptized boy, who lived to become a priest and zealous missionary (Delaney, Walsh).[1]

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Does Evil Exist?

Many, during various eras, have asked this interesting question. A number of theologians have endeavoured to answer this ancient question, which has troubled mankind since the beginning of time, where in every religion and understanding of our existence, we separate the world into good and evil. However, does evil exist? And if it does, how does it exist? Why has God allowed it to exist and prevail (in some instances)? These are popular questions. Vladimir Lossky, in his book The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, explains:

‘Evil entered into the world through the will. It is not a nature (φύσις), but a condition (έξις). ‘The nature of good is stronger than the habit of evil,’ says Diadochus of Photike, for ‘good exists, while evil does not exist, or rather it exists only at the moment in which it is practiced.’ According to St Gregory of Nyssa, sin is a disease of the will which is deceived, and takes a mere shadow of the good for the good itself. For this reason, the very desire to taste of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil was itself a sin, for, according to St Gregory, knowledge presupposes a certain disposition towards the object one wishes to know, and evil, being in itself non-existent, ought not to be known. Evil becomes a reality only by means of the will, in which alone it subsists. It is the will which gives evil a certain being. That man, who was by nature disposed towards the knowledge and love of God, could in his will incline towards a non-existent good, an illusory goal, can only be explained by some external influence, by the persuasion of some alien will to which the human will consented. Before entering the earthly world through Adam’s will, evil had already had its beginnings in the spiritual world. It was the will of the angelic spirits, eternally fixed in their enmity to God, which first gave birth to evil. And evil is nothing other than an attraction of the will towards nothing, a negation of being, of creation, and above all of God, a furious hatred of grace against which the rebellious will puts up an implacable resistance. Even though they have become spirits of darkness, the fallen angels remain creatures of God, and their rejection of the will of God represents a despairing intercourse with the nothingness which they will never find. Their eternal descent towards non-being will have no end. St Seraphim of Sarov, a great Russian mystic of the last century, says of them: ‘They are hideous; their conscious rejection of divine grace has transformed them into angels of darkness, and unimaginable horrors. Being angelic creatures, they possess enormous strength. The least among them could destroy creation from within, by turning human freedom towards evil.’ The same saint, referring to an ascetic writing attributed to St Antony, distinguishes three different wills at work in man. First, there is the will of God, perfect and saving; secondly, the will of man, not necessarily pernicious, but certainly not in itself a saving will, and, thirdly, the demonic will, seeking our perdition.’(pp.128-129).  

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lecture: Syriac Christianity in the land of the Tangut

Tuesday 25th October at 18.00 in G3 (Main Building SOAS) a lecture will be given by Dr. Li Tang (University of Salzburg) on Syriac Christianity in the Tangut region of north-west China and Inner Mongolia between the T'ang and Yuan dynasties (8th-14th centuries). With the demise of Syriac Christianity following its expulsion by the T'ang in the ninth century, questions are raised as to 'what happened to the Christians'. Textual and archaeological material from the Tangut region throw important light onto this question - which modern Chinese scholars and politicians have shown interest.
Dr. Li Tang is currently Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall Cambridge and at Faculty of Divinity, University Cambridge.  Her major publications include:
East Syriac Christianity in Mongol-Yuan China (12th – 14th Centuries). Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 2011.
A Study of the History of Nestorian Christianity in China and Its Literature in Chinese together with a New English Translation of the Dunhuang Nestorian Documents. Frankfurt/M: Peter Lang, 2002 & 2nd ed. 2004.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mr. Men and Little Miss – Royal Mail First Day Cover

The newest Royal Mail First Day Cover is dedicated to Mr. Men and Little Miss. Where did it all begin? One day, when Adam Hargreaves was about eight years old, he asked his father Roger, “What does a tickle look like?”

The unusual question his son had posed provoked an amused response initially but, being a creative man with a natural talent for drawing. Roger had a think and went on to visualise a tickle in the shape of a small orange man with incredibly long arms. Inspired by his creation, he drafted a short story all about him, developed some accompanying illustrations and mocked up his words and pictures into a little book, Mr. Tickle, which he sent to all the large UK publishers. While awaiting a reply, Roger kept busy working on several other little books, featuring characters such as Mr. Greedy and Mr. Nosey. Though rejected by the UK’s major publishers, Mr. Tickle would eventually find a home with Thurman Publishing Ltd and in August 1971 the first six Roger Hargreaves books – Mr. Tickle, Mr. Greedy, Mr. Happy, Mr. Nosey, Mr. Sneeze and Mr. Bump -  were published. They became so successful that after three years more than a million copies had been sold.
A decade after the first ‘Mr. Men’ books were published, Roger began writing the ‘Little Miss’ stories. In 1981, he introduced 13 new personalities to his readers, including Little Miss Bossy.
Sadly, in 1988 Roger Hargreaves died suddenly at the age of 53. Adam, who had inherited his father’s artistic talent, took over the family business and set about learning how to draw the Mr. Men and Little Misses. Although it took him quite a long time to feel that he was getting the characters right, in 2001 he illustrated and wrote the story of Mr. Cheeky, which was later followed by six titles in 2004, including Mr. Cool and Little Miss Bad.

The Mr. Men and Little Miss stories have been absorbing and entertaining children across the globe for 45 years and in 2016 these colourful, eclectic characters are as popular as ever. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Virgin Mother of God, hail Mary, full of grace

Virgin Mother of God, hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women; and blessed is the fruit of your womb; for you gave birth to the Saviour of our souls.

Friday, October 21, 2016

‘In the Eye of the Storm’ – Conference in Memory of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

The ‘Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh Foundation’ is organising a Conference in memory of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh on November 19 2016 @ St Sava’s Church Hall (89 Lancaster Road, London, W11). The speakers for this event will be Fr Ivan Moody (Lisbon), Costas Carras (Athens), Anna Conomos (London) and Fr Demetrios Bathrellos (Athens).

To see the programme and download the application form please see:
Booking is essential:
Tel: 01896 347457             07939 343734

Thursday, October 20, 2016

St Gerasimos’ Cave

St Gerasimos, the patron Saint of Kefalonia used to live in this cave, depicted below, before establishing a monastery, where his relics are currently located. St Gerasimos was born into the Notaras aristocratic family of Trikala Korinthias in 1506 AD. His parents were Dimitrios and Kallie Notara. His grandfather, Lucas, was the last Prime Ministerof Byzantium and a relative of Constantinos Palaeologus, the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire.

On completion of his excellent education, he toured all the sacred places in Greece. He went to Constantinople on a pilgrimage. He then moved on to Mount Athos, the Garden of the Virgin Mary, where he was ordained a monk. He later moved to the Holy Land, where he served for 12 years and was ordained to the priesthood. He wished to seek peace, therefore he left, moving on to Crete and then to Zakynthos.
St Gerasimos eventually ended up in Kefalonia in 1555, where he spent five years in a cave in Lassi (depicted in the pictures here), an area on the outskirts of Argostoli (the capital of Kefalonia). In 150 he established a convent, naming it New Jerusalem. The St had a famous motto, which he preached all his life: ‘Children, live in peace and do not be arrogant.’

The Saint passed away on August 15th 1579. However, he is commemorated on August 16th, due to the celebration of the Dormition of the Mother of God on the 15th August. His relics were uncovered on October 20th 1581 that is why he is also celebrated on this day. Therefore St Gerasimos is celebrated twice within a year.