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Παρασκευή, 25 Μαΐου 2018

ΤΑ ΔΥΟ ΠΡΟΣΩΠΑ ΤΗΣ ΧΑΡΑΣ ΚΑΙ ΤΗΣ ΛΥΠΗΣ

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για sorrow


Γνωρίζεις πολλούς που θα ήθελαν να τους αναγνωρίζει ο κόσμος από το λυπημένο τους πρόσωπο;

Καθώς επικράτησε σιγά σιγά και ύπουλα η φιλοσοφία της διαφήμισης, μετατοπίζοντας το νόημα από το σημαντικό στο ασήμαντο, από το βαθύ στο επιφανειακό κι από τη φιλότιμη προσπάθεια στη φυγόπονη ευκολία, αισθάνθηκα να πνίγομαι στο βούρκο της ασάφειας. (Σαλβαδόρ δελ Πόθο, 60 Μαθήματα Ζωής από τον Δον Κιχώτη)

Βούρκος ασάφειας. Οι Πατέρες της Εκκλησίας διακριτικά την αξιοποιούν ως υφολογικό μέσο που έχει την ικανότητα να κεντρίζει περισσότερο το ενδιαφέρον του αναγνώστη και να τον ωθεί εις έρευνα. Όταν όμως η ασάφεια είναι καπνός που θολώνει το μυαλό και βούρκος που πνίγει τη ζωή, τότε τα πράγματα γίνονται επικίνδυνα.

Η ασάφεια, στην οποία αναφέρεται το αρχικό παράθεμα, είναι πλέον μέρος της προσωπικότητάς μας, και έχει γίνει μάλλον αφασία. Στον κοινωνικό μας βίο συνοδεύεται από τη χρήση στερεότυπων και συνθημάτων που αποτελούν τη γλωσσική ταυτότητα του lifestyle. Το lifestyle είναι χαρά. Όλα είναι «τέλεια», όλα «υπέροχα», όλοι εξαιρετικοί κι αγαπημένοι, όλα στον υπερθετικό βαθμό. Δεν υπάρχει μέτρο, σύγκριση, διαβάθμιση, γιατί δεν υπάρχει κρίση και κριτήριο, ούτε άλλωστε έχουν σημασία, γιατί ζούμε στην εποχή της διαφήμισης. Η οποία απλά θέλει κάτι να επιβάλει. Όχι με επιχειρήματα, αλλά με τη δικτατορία των εντυπώσεων. Η εικόνα είναι αυτό που μετρά, η «προσωπικότητα», όχι ο χαρακτήρας. Η παγκόσμια αγορά με κάθε επιστημοσύνη επέβαλε αυτό το μοντέλο ως άρθρο πίστεως και συνταγή επιτυχίας. Διότι ξέρει ότι η χαρά, αυτή η συγκεκριμένη χαρά, είναι εξαιρετικά καταναλωτική. Και εξαιρετικά εξαρτημένη.

Όλα τέλεια, υπέροχα, κι εμείς χαρούμενοι, αρυτίδωτοι και γελαστοί πάντοτε, ευπροσήγοροι και ανοιχτόκαρδοι, συνάδελφοι και ομόφρονες, ανταγωνιστές έως θανάτου, πανέτοιμοι νὰ σκοτώσουμε συμβολικά τους άλλους και ταυτόχρονα απόλυτα εξαρτημένοι από τη γνώμη τους, ολοπρόθυμοι να φιλήσουμε χέρια που δεν μπορούμε να δαγκώσουμε, χαρούμενοι θλιμμένοι νάρκισσοι. Μα σε τούτο το νευρωσικό χτίσιμο του προσώπου μπορεί ο καθένας να δει τις ρωγμές. Η θλίψη είναι βαθιά και πικρή, είναι ανελέητη ερημιά που αλλάζει ρόλους και προσωπεία για να φανεί κοινωνική. Όσο πιό βαθιά είναι, τόσο περισσότερο εναγωνίως επιδιώκει να πείσει τους άλλους ότι δεν υφίσταται, ακόμη κι αν πρέπει να τους πατήσει στο σβέρκο.

Αν μιλάμε για Χριστιανούς, ναι, μπορεί να ισχύουν τα ίδια, με μόνη διαφορά ότι εδώ όλα γίνονται στο όνομα του Χριστού ή (για να μην είμαστε εκτός θεολογικής μόδας) να γίνονται ευχαριστιακά. Ζούμε την «πληρότητα της αγαπητικής ελευθερίας» μέχρι να μας πατήσουν τον κάλο ή να αμφισβητήσουν κάτι από το πρόσωπό μας. Και οι μαθητές του Χριστού μετατρεπόμαστε σε φανφαρόνους με πατερικά η (συνηθέστερο) μεταπατερικά τσιτάτα, φορεμένα χαμόγελα πληρότητας και ικανή θέληση για δύναμη.

Ένας αλλοεθνής αλεβίτης, άνθρωπος καλλιεργημένος, του κόσμου τούτου, είπε κάποτε στον γράφοντα: «Με ενδιαφέρει η Ορθοδοξία. Αλλά η Ορθοδοξία των ταπεινών αγίων, όχι η Ορθοδοξία-The Coca-Cola Company. Μπορείτε να μου τη δείξετε;». Δεν προσβλήθηκα καθόλου. Η διαφήμιση έχει μπει στη ζωή των Ορθοδόξων, φέροντας μαζί της ασάφεια και αφασία, το κυνήγι του εύκολου και άμεσου, τυφλές συμπεριφορές και οράματα προσωπικής επιτυχίας, δύναμης και δόξας (αφού είμαστε «κοινωνία προσώπων»). Πίσω απ’ αυτά βρίσκεται πολλή θλίψη.

Υπάρχει όμως και μια θλίψη αγαθή, ή μάλλον λύπη, η οποία δεν συνθλίβει, αυτή που αναδύεται από την ευαίσθητη καρδιά. Αυτή που στρέφει προς τα έσω με ειλικρίνεια, που σμιλεύει τον χαρακτήρα, που βοηθά στην αυτογνωσία αλλά και στην ενσυναίσθηση.

Οι Πατέρες αποδέχονται τη θλίψη, όπως αποδέχονται και τη χαρά και όλο το ανθρώπινο. Δεν διστάζουν να πουν ότι η αληθινή χαρά είναι ακόμη βαθύτερη. Πρέπει λοιπόν να σκάψεις και να ιδρώσεις για να τη βρεις, όπως βρίσκεις ένα μαργαριτάρι θαμμένο σε ρουμανιασμένο χωράφι. Όσο καθαρίζεις και εμβαθύνεις, αρχίζεις και διακρίνεις ότι η χαρά είναι η φυσική κατάσταση του ανθρώπου. Αυτή η χαρά δεν είναι εξωστρεφής και εξαρτημένη, δεν εξορκίζει τη λύπη, είναι χαρά που βρέθηκε μέσα από τον σταυρό, όχι παραμύθιασμα, αλλά έλεγχος πραγμάτων μη βλεπομένων.

Οι Πατέρες βλέπουν με υποψία και τη χαρά και τη λύπη ως εξωτερικές εκδηλώσεις. Γιατί ψεύδος και υποκρισία μπορεί να υπάρχει και στη μία και στην άλλη. Γι αυτό και ο Χριστός λέει, μη φαίνεσθε σκυθρωποί για να δείξετε ότι νηστεύετε. Και το προσωπείο της λύπης είναι ναρκισσιστικό, είναι εργαλείο στα χέρια εκείνου που θέλει να είναι το κέντρο του ενδιαφέροντος, να αποσπά τον οίκτο και τη συμπάθεια, γιατί έτσι αισθάνεται ότι αποκτά νόημα και υπόσταση, και γιατί έτσι ικανοποιεί τα θελήματά του. Σήμερα νομίζω ο Κύριος θα έλεγε το αντίθετο: μη φαίνεσθε και πολύ γελαστοί, όπως κάνουν οι υποκριτές για να φανούν αυτάρκεις και ευτυχισμένοι.

Ο αληθινός άνθρωπος είναι ο άνθρωπος της χαρμολύπης. Λυπημένος στη λύπη τού πλησίον, χαρούμενος στη χαρά εκείνου. Λυπημένος για τις δικές του αμαρτίες, χαρούμενος για τη μετάνοιά του. Λυπημένος για την αδικία στον κόσμο, χαρούμενος για την ανάσταση. Και κάτι παραπάνω. Έτοιμος να υπερβεί και τη λύπη και τη χαρά ως συναισθήματα, προκειμένου να προχωρήσει σε μεγάλες πράξεις, σε μεγάλα ναι ή όχι, που μπορεί μόνο ο Θεός να γνωρίζει. Η χαρμολύπη του είναι αληθινή, δεν διαφημίζεται. Χωρά όλον τον κόσμο, αλλά δεν τη χωρά ο κόσμος…

Ἱερομ. Χρυσόστομος Κουτλουμουσιανός

πηγή 


Πέμπτη, 24 Μαΐου 2018



Στις τρείς ημέρες μεταξύ του θανάτου και του ενταφιασμού του, το σώμα του π. Σεραφείμ Ρόουζ δεν υπέστη ούτε ακαμψία, ούτε αποσυντέθηκε στο ελάχιστο, ακόμη και με τη θερινή θερμοκρασία. Δεν υπήρχε καμιά νεκρική ωχρότητα πάνω του..
Στην πραγματικότητα, το χρώμα του ήταν κυριολεκτικά χρυσωπό. Το δέρμα του παρέμεινε μαλακό και το σώμα του φάνηκε να είναι, όπως είπε ένας προσκυνητής της μονής, '' σαν ένα παιδί που κοιμάται ''...
Tο πρόσωπο του π.Σεραφείμ ακτινοβολούσε. Κοίταζε σαν να ήταν ζωντανός - νεώτερος από ό,τι ήταν πριν από την ασθένειά του. Η θέα του πιστοποιούσε έναν θρίαμβο πάνω στον θάνατο...

πηγή 

Τετάρτη, 23 Μαΐου 2018

Προσαρμογή του Χριστιανισμού στην Ιαπωνική πραγματικότητα

Η Ορθοδοξία στη «Χώρα Του Ανατέλλοντος Ηλίου»


Tού Μακ. Αρχιεπισκόπου Τιράνων και πάσης Αλβανίας Αναστασίου

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για αγιοσ νικολαοσ κασατκιν


Σε μια εποχή εθνικιστικών φιλοδοξιών, ο Νικόλαος Κασάτκιν κατόρθωσε να κρατήσει την Ορθόδοξη Ιεραποστολή ανέπαφη από πολιτικές διαπλοκές. Όραμα και σκοπός του ιεραποστολικού του έργου στην Ιαπωνία ήταν, όπως ο διάδοχός του Σέργιος διατύπωσε, «ο Ορθόδοξος Χριστιανισμός, μόνος αυτός χωρίς άλλο προσδιορισμό, όπως ελληνικός, ρωσικός, μοναρχικός κ.λπ.»

Η αίσθηση της καθολικότητος της νέας Εκκλησίας υπογραμμίσθηκε από τον Επίσκοπο Νικόλαο, όταν έλαβε για τον νέο ναό μία εικόνα με την ευλογία του Πατριάρχη Ιεροσολύμων. Τον χαροποίησε επίσης πολύ η επίσκεψη ενός Έλληνα αρχιεπισκόπου, ο οποίος και λειτούργησε μαζί με τους Ιάπωνες Ιερείς στον Καθεδρικό της πρωτεύουσας. Αυτό ήταν σημαντικό διότι δήλωνε τον υπερεθνικό χαρακτήρα της Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας, και μάλιστα σε μια περίοδο αυξανόμενης εχθρότητος μεταξύ Ρωσίας και Ιαπωνίας.

Ο Επίσκοπος Νικόλαος απέδειξε πόσο συνεπής ήταν στην αρχή του να κρατήσει την Ιεραποστολή μακριά από κάθε πολιτική κατά την έκρηξη του Ρωσο-Ιαπωνικού πολέμου (1904-1905). Όχι μόνο έμεινε μαζί με το ποίμνιό του, αλλά και συμβούλευσε τους Ιάπωνες Ορθοδόξους να κάνουν το χρέος τους προς τη χώρα τους.

«… Όσοι κληθήκατε στο πεδίο των μαχών πρέπει να πολεμήσετε, χωρίς να φροντίζετε για τη ζωή σας, όχι όμως από μίσος κατά του εχθρού, αλλά από αγάπη απέναντι στους συμπατριώτες σας… Με ένα λόγο, να πράξετε καθετί που η αγάπη για την πατρίδα σας επιβάλλει… Αλλά εκτός από τη γήινη πατρίδα, εμείς οι Χριστιανοί έχουμε ακόμη μια άλλη πατρίδα, την ουράνια. Σ' αυτήν ανήκουν οι άνθρωποι χωρίς διάκριση εθνικότητος… Η πατρίδα μας αυτή είναι η Εκκλησία· σ' αυτήν τα τέκνα του ουρανίου Πατρός αποτελούν πραγματικά οικογένεια. Γι' αυτόν τον λόγο δεν σας εγκαταλείπω, αδελφοί και αδελφές, αλλά μένω στην οικογένεια σας όπως στη δική μου».

Την εποχή εκείνη εντούτοις, αποφάσισε να αποσυρθεί διακριτικά από κάθε δημόσια δραστηριότητα και εμφάνιση. «Όχι διότι θα ήταν επικίνδυνη για τον ίδιο προσωπικά, αλλά διότι, ως Ρώσος υπήκοος, δεν θα μπορούσε να προσεύχεται για την ήττα της χώρας του».

Με αυτή την παραδειγματική του στάση κέρδισε όχι μόνο τον γενικό σεβασμό στην Ιαπωνία, αλλά ήταν σε θέση αργότερα να υπηρετήσει την πατρίδα του, διότι η Ιαπωνική κυβέρνηση του επέτρεψε, μαζί με τους Ιάπωνες Ιερείς, να φροντίσει για τις πνευματικές ανάγκες των 70.000 Ρώσων αιχμαλώτων πολέμου17.

Η προσέλευση Ιαπώνων στην Ορθόδοξη πίστη δεν διακόπηκε. Αμέσως μετά τον πόλεμο συνεχίσθηκε με αυξανόμενη ταχύτητα· ο Κασάτκιν κατόρθωσε να αποδείξει ότι η Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία, ενώ υπηρετεί τα έθνη, παραμένει πάντοτε υπεράνω αυτών και έτσι ουσιαστικά τα διακονεί.

πηγή 

Το μυστικό της Ιεραποστολική επιτυχίας τού αγίου Αρχιεπισκόπου Νικολάου Κασάτκιν

Η Ορθοδοξία στη «Χώρα Του Ανατέλλοντος Ηλίου»

Tού Μακ. Αρχιεπισκόπου Τιράνων και πάσης Αλβανίας Αναστασίου






Το 1906 η ιερά Σύνοδος ανύψωσε τον Κασάτκιν σε αρχιεπίσκοπο και το 1908 έστειλε ως βοηθό του Επίσκοπο τον Σέργιο Τυχομίρωφ, ο οποίος εγκαταστάθηκε στο Κιότο. Ο Αρχιεπίσκοπος Νικόλαος εξακολούθησε να ζει με ευαγγελική απλότητα και πτωχεία,18 ακτινοβολώντας τη χάρη του Θεού.

Σε όλη τη διάρκεια της ζωής του υπήρξε εξαιρετικά ευγενής και ταπεινός. Έμενε σε ένα μικρό διαμέρισμα δύο δωματίων, στη γωνία του Καθεδρικού, με τρόπο ασκητικό. Κατά κανόνα, αφιέρωνε όλα τα έσοδά του για να βοηθεί τους φτωχούς και τον κλήρο· η τροφή του ήταν λιτή· τό ράσο του μπαλωμένο σε πολλά μέρη. Ήταν το ίδιο με αυτό των κληρικών του. «Η φτωχική εμφάνισή τους, τους εμπόδιζε να εισέρχονται στα σπίτια των πλουσίων. Έτσι οι Ορθόδοξοι προέρχονταν από τις τάξεις των φτωχών εργατών»

Όταν στις 16 Φεβρουάριου 1912 ο Αρχιεπίσκοπος Νικόλαος άφησε αυτό τον κόσμο, βρέθηκαν στο ταπεινό του κελί μόνο μερικά τριμμένα ρούχα και αρκετά βιβλία. Σε όλη όμως την Ιαπωνία, τα επιτεύγματά του μιλούσαν για τον πλούτο της καρδιάς και το αποστολικό έργο του μεγάλου αυτού Αγίου.

Η Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία της Ιαπωνίας αριθμούσε 33.000 πιστούς οργανωμένους σε 266 ενορίες. Είχε 8 επιβλητικούς ναούς, 276 μικρότερους, 178 ιεραποστολικούς σταθμούς, 35 Ιάπωνες Ιερείς, 22 Διακόνους και 116 κατηχητές.

Ο αυτοκράτορας της Ιαπωνίας Μέιτζι έστειλε ένα στέφανο για την κηδεία του.21 Ο Αρχιεπίσκοπος Νικόλαος Κασάτκιν ήταν ο μόνος ξένος Ιεραπόστολος που τιμήθηκε μ’ αυτό τον τρόπο.

Η αγιότητα του, η γνήσια ζωή του εν Χριστώ υπήρξαν το μυστικό των πνευματικών του επιτευγμάτων. Ο Νικόλαος συνδύαζε βαθιά πνευματικότητα, σπάνια διοικητικά προσόντα και πύρινο Ιεραποστολικό ζήλο. Εργάσθηκε με βαθύ σεβασμό προς την ψυχοσύνθεση του Ιαπωνικού λαού και, σε περίοδο όπου πολλές φορές οι δυτικές ιεραποστολές είχαν συνυφανθεί με αποικιοκρατικές βλέψεις, πέτυχε να κρατήσει την αποστολική του προσπάθεια μακριά από κάθε πολιτική σκοπιμότητα.

Η Ιερά Σύνοδος της Ρωσικής Εκκλησίας τον ανακήρυξε Άγιο (1977).

Το Αποστολικό έργο του Νικολάου Κασάτκιν, διάπυρο από τη φλόγα του Αγίου Πνεύματος, έφερε τη χαραυγή της Ορθοδοξίας στη «χώρα του ανατέλλοντος ηλίου».

πηγή

Τρίτη, 22 Μαΐου 2018

Χριστός Ανέστη στα Ιαπωνικά (βίντεο)

Στα Ιαπωνικά το Χριστός Ανέστη είναι Harisutosu fukkatsu! Το Αληθώς Ανέστη είναι Jitsu ni fukkatsu! ( ハリストス復活!実に復活! ) Harisutosu σημαίνει Χριστός. Fukkatsu είναι μία λέξη που εκφράζει την επιστροφή στη ζωή. Jitsu ni σημαίνει αληθινά.

Σάββατο, 19 Μαΐου 2018

SAINT NICHOLAS OF JAPAN AND HIS LEGACY

Bishop Nicholas (Kasatkin) of Japan


1. Preaching Orthodoxy to the Ends of the Earth
At the end of His time on earth, Our Lord Jesus Christc commanded His Apostles and disciples, saying, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations (Mt. 28:19). At the feast of Pentecost this preaching to all peoples was manifest in the spiritual gift of “tongues,” when the Apostles’ words were miraculously heard by their listeners in their own languages.Since that time the “gift of tongues” has been extremely rare, but has been replaced by the efforts of Orthodox missionaries to study the language and culture of the people they preach to, presenting the Gospel to them in their native tongue andin a cultural context, yet without compromising the Faith.

Such missionaries have often been called “equals-to-the-apostles” by the Orthodox Church, thatis, those who labored with the zeal and in the mannerof the first Apostles. Well known among such saints are Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the ninth-century evangelizers of the Slavic peoples. A more recent example of this type of saint is St. Nicholas (Kasatkin), who brought the light of Orthodoxy to the people of Japan.

2.St. Nicholas’ Early Years (1836–1860)

Ivan Dmitrievich Kasatkin was born on August 1, 1836, in the village of Beryozha of the Belsk district in the Smolensk region of Russia. His father, Deacon Dmitry Kasatkin, had four children: Gabriel (who died in early childhood), Olga, Ivan, and Basil. When Ivan was five, his mother reposed and his older sister Olga, whose husband served as a deaconin a rural church, began taking care of the children. The future archbishop and saint studied in the Belsk Ecclesiastical Primary School, then in theSmolensk Seminary. After graduating at the top of his class, he received a state scholarship to enter the St. Petersburg Theological Academyin 1856.

In the spring of 1860, an announcement inviting a graduate to serve as chief priest of the Russian Embassy churchin Japan was posted at the academy. Having calmly read the announcement, the young man went to the evening service, where he experienced a sudden desire to go to Japan. He completed the application with the intent of serving as a monk rather than as a married priest, and easily gained the position.

On June 21, 1860, Ivan Kasatkin was tonsured a monk with the name Nicholas.He was ordained a hierodeacon on June 29, and a hieromonk on the following day. He then set out on the long journey toJapan. Hieromonk Nicholas spent the winter of 1860–61in Nikolaevskon the river Amur, where Bishop Innocent (Veniaminov) of Kamchatka, the future saint, enlightener of Siberia and Alaska, and Metropolitan of Moscow, instructed the young missionary. St. Nicholasremembered these talks with Bishop Innocent for the rest of his life. It was St. Innocent who kindled the young missionary’s inspiration to study the language and culture of Japan.

3. Preparing to Spread the Gospel (1861–1873)

Aftera year’s journey, in June1861 Hieromonk Nicholas arrived at the port of Hakodate. At the time of his arrival the medieval charter of 1614, which entirely prohibited Christianity, was still in force. Although later, in 1873,a civil law would allow freedom of religion, obstacles to the propagation of the Faith continued t o exist, and persecutions, especially in rural areas, continued for a longtime.

St. Nicholas began his earnest study of the country’s language, culture and history. “He sometimes strolled around the streets of Hakodate, listening to theordinary people and professional storytellers. He made the acquaintance of leading Buddhist priests and listened to their sermons…. Hieromonk Nicholas spent fourteen hours a day over the course of seven years studying every aspect of Japan…. As a result of his relentless study of the Japanese language, Hieromonk Nicholas eventually acquired the knowledge of several thousand Chinese characters, giving him access to materials printed by the Orthodox mission in Peking, where Joseph Goshkevich[1] had spent almost ten years. This allowed Nicholas to study Chinese texts of the Old and New Testaments, as well as some of the liturgical books.”[2] Bishop Seraphim (Sigrist) of Sendai and the East (now retired) further describes St. Nicholas’ zeal in preparing for his missionary labors: “The story is told that in his early days of studying Japanese, Fr. Nicholas (then a priest in Hakodate) would go with the Japanese children to school and sit in theback and learn as best he could with them. Indeed, atone point the perplexed teachers put up a sign at the door: ‘The bearded foreigner is not allowed.’”[3]

While stillin Hakodate St. Nicholas was well aware of the massive tasks that lay before him. In 1869 he wrote: “One can draw the conclusion that at least the harvest truly is bountiful in Japan in the near future, but there are no laborers on ourside, not even one, if not counting my own personal activity…. Just translating the New Testament … will take at least two years of dedicated work. Then, the translation of the Old Testamentis necessary too. Even in the smallest [Orthodox] congregation the services will have to be held in Japanese. What about the other books, such as sacred history, Church history, liturgics, and theology? All of those are necessities as well, and must be translated into Japanese.And no one knows if a foreigner could master Japanese sufficiently to write it at least half as easily as he normally writes in his own language.”[4]

Aftera few years of intense study, Fr. Nicholas converted a samurai, the son-in-law of a Shinto priest, along with two others. (This samurai was the future Orthodox priest Paul Sawabe. The saint did not attempt to convert large numbers of people, but strove instead to make sure that those he did convert were strong in the Faith. These first converts then assisted him, and he soon had a group of fifteen Christians.

In late1869 Hieromonk Nicholas came to St. Petersburg to report on his work to the Synod.A decision was made “to setup a special Russian Ecclesiastical Mission to preach God’s word among pagans.” Fr Nicholaswas promoted to the rank of archimandrite and appointed head of the Mission.

4. Beginning Labors inTokyo (1873–1885)

In 1873,after St. Nicholashad been laboring for twelve years, conditions began to improve. Thanks to the forward-looking policies of Emperor Meiji, the Japanese government issued a new civil law granting religious tolerance. The Missionwas then moved from Hakodate to Tokyo, the new imperial capital, where the numberof Orthodox faithful soon reached a thousand.

St. Nicholas held the work of translation to be one of the most important activities he could accomplish in helping to lay the foundations of the Orthodox Missionin Japan. He once said: “Translation is the core of missionary work. Nowadays the work of a mission in general,in any country, cannot be limited to oral preaching alone…. In Japan, where people like reading and respect the printed word so much, we must first of all provide the faithful and those who are about to be baptized with books printed in their mother tongue, by allmeans well-written and neatly and cheaply published…. The printed word must be the soul of the mission.”[5]

In spreading Orthodoxy to the Japanese, St. Nicholas knew it would be especially effective for thenew Japanese Christians to bring the Faith to their own people themselves. Thus, during the 1870s he began to encourage those who had been members of the Church for some time, and who had received lengthy instruction, to travel throughout Japan and introduce the Faith to their countrymen. These catechists, like new apostles, would preach and then, if new believers were willing, would hold services in theirhomes and even use those homes as “stations” from which to teach the Faith. Ordained priests or even St. Nicholashimself would visit these missions when possible, to serve the sacraments and further strengthen the faithful. Over 250 missions were founded in this manner during St. Nicholas’ lifetime.

From the time ofhis arrival St. Nicholas lived nearly all his life in Japan, briefly returning to Russia only twice: from 1869 to1870 to request the establishment of the Russian Ecclesiastical Missionin Japan, and from1879 to1880 to be consecrated bishop of the growing mission and to collect funds for its needs. Each time he was particularly eager to go back home to Japan, to continue his work.

5. Labors as a Bishop (1885–1912)

In 1875 the first Japanese Orthodox priest, Fr. Paul Sawabe, was ordained. St. Nicholas founded schools for the instruction of catechumens and the faithful, and in 1878he opened a theologica college for the training of the Japanese clergy. Besides theological courses, Japanese, Chinese and Russian were taught there to prepare for the eventual translation of all the Holy Scriptures as wellas other essential texts. In 1880 St. Nicholas was consecrated as the first bishop ofJapan, and by 1884 he had begun the construction of a beautiful cathedral in Tokyo. It was completed and consecrated in 1891, and dedicated to Christ’s Holy Resurrection. However, it soon became known among the people as “Nikolai-do” (“Nicholas’ house”), a name it bears to this day. While St. Nicholas handed down the traditions and liturgical customs of the Russian Church to his flock, he nevertheless strove to form a truly Japanese Church, in both language and identity.

St. Nicholas’ personal example of love and respect for the Japanese people and their history, language,and customs left a good impression on the Japanese authorities and helped contribute to the growth of the Orthodox mission. St. Nicholas’ fluency in Japanese led to his being occasionally called upon to be present during official government meetings between Japanese and Russian representatives.

The Russo-Japanese War of 1904–5tested St. Nicholas and the Orthodox Christians in Japan. Using great discernment, he allowed his clergy to hold services of supplication for a Japanese victory, while not taking part in such services himself. Although he was offered protection by the Russians, he declined this, preferring to remain with his flock.

In 1906 Bishop Nicholas was raised to the rank of archbishop, and the faithful in Japan celebrated his twenty-fifth anniversary as their bishop.

In 1908 St. Nicholas’ future successor, Bishop Sergius (Tikhomirov), arrived in Tokyo. Bishop Sergius headed the Japanese Orthodox church from 1912 to1940. In 1912,the last year of St. Nicholas’ life, there were 33,000 faithful in 266 congregationsin Japan. There were 175 churches and eight cathedrals, served by forty Japanese priests and deacons.

6. The Reposeof St. Nicholas

Archbishop Nicholas began to suffer from heart diseasein 1910.His illness increased to the point thatin January 1912he was hospitalized. Oneevening Bishop Sergius entered the hospital to see his teacher. Later, he described what he saw: “A low table stands by the window of the room. Japanese manuscripts, an ink-bottle, and a brush are laid upon it,and before [his Eminence] is a Slavonic Triodion. [Paul] Nakai reads a Japanesetranslation [and] the archbishop follows his reading, looking into another notebook. At times they stop and insert a comma…. Could one have said that this was an old man, sentenced to inevitable death?”[6]

Gifted with an energetic and driven disposition, St. Nicholas always retained a humble perspective on his labors to the end of his days, once saying, “I am nothing more than a matchstick with which a candleis lit. Afterwards, the match goes out and is thrown on the ground as good for nothing.”[7]

On February 3/16,at7:15pm, His Eminence Nicholas, the Archbishop of Japan, reposed. The next day all Japan knew of his death.

Bishop Sergius wrote: “Tokyo Christians started making their way, one after another, to the Mission; Christians of other confessions expressed their condolences.… Those who had not yet accepted Christ’s teaching hurried to the Mission to bow or to leave a visiting card. They were not only ordinary citizens, but princes, counts, viscounts, barons, ministers and non-civil servants as well….

“But the highest honor rendered by Japan to Archbishop Nicholas was the fact that the Emperor of Japan [Meiji] himself … sent a magnificent and colossal wreath of natural flowers forthe archbishop’s coffin, and he did not do this in secret!... Accepting the wreath and replying with words of gratitude, we placed the wreath at St. Nicholas’ head.… The Emperor ofJapan himself crowned the head of God’s hierarch with flowers of victory!... There were two characters inside the wreath: ‘On-Shi,’ i.e., ‘the Highest Gift’… All the Japanese saw these two characters, read them, and reverently bowed their heads before the wreath!…

“Having started with a tremendous risk to his life, Archbishop Nicholas completed his activity in Japan with approval from the high Throne.”[8]



7. From 1912 to the Present Day

The years that followed St. Nicholas’ repose were marked by great difficulties and trials for the Japanese Orthodox Church. It not only had to face the challenges of being cut off from the Church in Russia due to the Bolshevik Revolution, which led to financial hardships, but also had to deal with the difficult years culminating in the Second World War and its aftermath. From 1945 to 1970 the Japanese Church was under the administration of the American Metropolia of the Russian Church (now the Orthodox Church in America).On April10, 1970, the Japanese Church was granted autonomy by the Russian Orthodox Church, and Archbishop Nicholas was glorified as a saint.
Throughout its almost hundred-year history since the saint’s death, the Japanese Church has kept the canons and traditions of Orthodox celebration that were established by St. Nicholas. The 266 parishes of the time of St. Nicholas have united to form the current 69 congregations of Japanese Orthodox Church. As in apostolic times, the Church in Japan finds itself a tiny minority in a society which has not yet received the light of Christ, a little flock (Luke 12:32) in the midst of one of the most materially prosperous nations on earth. But that small seed may yet grow into a great tree (cf. Mt. 13:31), for as St. Nicholas proclaimed, the harvest is truly bountiful (Luke 10:2).

From the St. Herman Calendar, 2011, St. Herman Press.

St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood
with special thanks to Galina Besstremyannaya

2/17/2012

[1] Joseph Goshkevich (1814–1875)wasa Russianorientalist who initially worked in China and laterbecamethe first Russian diplomatic representative to Japan. [2]Bartholomew,D., “Hieromonk Nikolai (Kasatkin): The Hakodate Years: 1861–1869 & 1871,” Divine Ascent, no.6 (2000), p. 27.

[3]Bishop Seraphim (Sigrist), “Letter of Salutation,” Divine Ascent, no. 6 (2000), p. 14.

[4]Alexei Potapov, “St. Nikolai’s Translating and Publishing Work,” Divine Ascent, no. 6 (2000), p. 85

[5]Alexei Potapov, “St. Nikolai’s Translating and Publishing Work,” p.83.

[6] Metropolitan Sergius (Tikhomirov), “In Memory of His Eminence Nicholas, Archbishop of Japan, on the Anniversary of His Repose, February 3, 1912,” Christian Readings, January 1913, p. 40 (in Russian).

[7] St. Nicholas of Japan: Brief Biography and Journals, 1870-1911 (St. Petersburg: Bibliopolis, 2007), p 400 (in Russian).

[8] Metropolitan Sergius (Tikhomirov), “In Memory of His Eminence Nicholas,” pp66, 73.

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“JAPAN MADE ME ORTHODOX”

Constantine Beliy, Eleonora Sablina

Eleonora Borisovna Sablina is an historian, teacher, candidate of historical sciences, researcher of Japanese Orthodoxy, and the author of a book on St. Nicholas of Japan.




—Eleonora Borisovna, you have been living and teaching in Japan for many years. Tell us, please, how you arrived in the Land of the Rising Sun? Where do you work?

—I have been teaching at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies for nineteen years. I am a candidate in historical sciences and professor. I also teach at the Tokyo Conservatory, and until March of this year I worked at the State University of Yokohama. Unfortunately, study of the humanities is being reduced in Japan today. It’s sad, but there’s nothing you can do—it’s a global trend.

I went to Japan straight from Moscow State University (MSU). I taught Japanese there. My specializations were as an historian-orientalist and as a translator. From 1978, when the world conferences of religious leaders began, I started working with the Russian Orthodox Church. I was invited as a translator. Vladyka Theodosy (Nagasima) would come to Russia and I would translate for him. I first learned about St. Nicholas when I started accompanying pilgrims. Of course, before that I had heard nothing about the saint because we lived in an atheist country; but the person of St. Nicholas interested me. In the end, I decided to go to Japan to study his activity and to introduce it to Russians. In 1992, after the fall of the USSR, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs created special educational programs, receiving students and researchers from Russia. I was there for a year on this grant, as a visiting researcher. I went around all of Japan and visited all the churches. I wrote several articles under the title “A Pilgrim from Russia.” A large compilation on St. Nicholas’ work was even published in English, including my articles and those of other scholars.

Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo

Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo
   
—And you have stayed working in Japan ever since?

—Yes, they kept me; because Vladyka Theodosy did not allow any Japanese into his archives, but he told me, “Do as you wish.” It was apparently also because my specialization was as a researcher in Russian-Japanese cultural relations at the end of the nineteenth century, and my main direction was the history of St. Nicholas and the Japanese Orthodox Church. In general, when you say in Russia that there’s Orthodoxy in Japan, everyone is surprised. But there is! And it’s firmly rooted. I thank the Japanese Foreign Ministry for giving me the opportunity to study Orthodoxy in Japan, because it is the basis of Russian-Japanese relations at all times, and the mutual understanding between Russia and Japan comes from the Orthodox. St. Nicholas was a great scholar and Japanologist. I thank God that I also wound up in this current of Japan specialists.

—That brings up a question. You probably didn’t come to faith immediately. It seems St. Nicholas greatly influenced your coming to the Church.

—I came to faith after I began to collaborate with the Russian Orthodox Church and I would go to the services. But I have childhood memories of faith. I remember how my nanny would take me to Rostov-on-Don to church. It was a Greek church. I remember stopping into the church sometimes and going there for Pascha with a lit lantern. And that was the end of my experience with faith. I didn’t hear anything else about faith. We even had a class at MSU on scientific atheism. But one day the Lord led me to the Committee for the Protection of Peace. My classmates were there. They called me and said, “There’s a conference, organized by priests. They need the Japanese language.” I was scared, but I went. From there a whole chain of events lined up, leading me to Japan. I believe everything was so easily managed by the prayers of St. Nicholas. I always felt he was leading me. I finally began my Church life there.

—What did you think of Japan on your first visit?

—I first went to Japan as a third-year student. The Expo 1970 world exhibition was there. The first thing I noticed was a different smell. They got us to Osaka in eight hours, and on the way I saw bananas lying out on counters, but we had a shortage of them. I was surprised by the unusual smell and the brightness of the fruit. The Japanese immediately seemed very friendly. We were working on building our Soviet pavilion, and I had to constantly translate for everyone—constantly traveling and talking. One elderly Japanese man even decided to invite us to some interesting places. He said he only had a little time left to live because he was sick, and therefore he wanted to show us young people his motherland. That’s when I first began to love the Japanese. They’re very compassionate people. I’m still friends with some of the Japanese who were at that exhibition then. The Japanese are not wasteful, but not stingy, not tight-fisted.

St. Nicholas of Japan

St. Nicholas of Japan

—How did you decide to write a book on St. Nicholas? Were there difficulties in writing it?
—No, there were no special difficulties. I first wrote a thesis on him, and I had all the documents. Besides, I wrote with my heart. Before going to Japan, I got a blessing from Vladyka Vladimir in St. Petersburg, whom I had befriended at conferences in Japan. He really loved Japan. One time, Vladyka and I went to a monastery where His Holiness (Patriarch Alexy II) was. They had trapeza in the evening, then everyone went up for a blessing. I approached the patriarch last, and he said, “And where are you, Eleonora Borisovna?” Ten years had passed and he still remembered me! I told him I’d already been in Japan for two years, and told him I was going to write a work about St. Nicholas. He wished me success. And in 2006, when my book came out, I presented it to him on the commemoration day of Holy Hierarch Alexei. He would then often ask, “How is your Japan?” and always asks me to convey his bow to Japan. I thank God that life has led such people to me, including Anthony of Sourozh. At the Local Council, when I translated for him, Vladyka was sitting on a step below us, and it was making me very uncomfortable. However, he said, “No, no, don’t interfere.” And in the end, I got a bouquet of red roses from him.

—You studied the life of St. Nicholas of Japan, went to all the churches where he served, and spoke with people connected with Vladyka in one way or another. What, in your view, led to St. Nicholas having such missionary success in Japan?

—Vladyka had a good heart, mind, and education. When he arrived in Japan in 1861, Christianity was still forbidden there. He was a regular priest at the consulate for eight years, and this whole time he attentively and heartily studied Japan—its history, literature, and most importantly, language. He studied Japanese for eight hours straight every day. He alternated with three different teachers. Just imagine, what productivity! Such a desire to get to know the country and language that many have said was created by the devil himself, since it’s so difficult. But Vladyka overcame it all.

St. Nicholas’ path to Japan was not easy, but providential. While he was still in the St. Petersburg Academy, when he went to the seminary’s evening prayers, he saw in one classroom a sheet saying that they were asking for a priest for the consulate in Japan—and not just a priest, but a missionary priest. Vladyka would later say, “I went to the service, prayed about this proposition, and by the end of the service my heart, my soul already belonged to Japan.” No one thought that he, a handsome and funny man, would wind up so far away and become a great preacher.

But the Lord judged otherwise. It’s interesting that the future holy hierarch met Metropolitan Innocent in Irkutsk, also later numbered among the saints, who was returning from America. St. Innocent sewed a velvet cassock for his young comrade, saying that he, Nicholas, should appear in all glory before the Japanese. He also gave him a pectoral cross and said, “You should come down the ladder from the boat with such a look.” Obviously, Vladyka well understood how important a missionary’s first impression is. And indeed, after the amazing conversion to Orthodoxy of a Shinto priest who had come to kill St. Nicholas, the Orthodox community began to grow by his fiery preaching in the Japanese language, and by 1880 there were more than 5,000 believers and 6 priests.


Eleonora Sablina

Eleonora Sablina
   
—As you know, St. Nicholas founded a seminary and theological schools. How did Vladkya prepare people for priestly service; how did he instruct and educate them?

—Yes, you’re referring to the Tokyo Seminary, which had its first graduation in 1882. Vladyka strove to give seminarians there a very good and diverse education and invited various teachers. St. Nicholas always paid attention to the seminarians’ manners and their attitudes towards people. Some were expelled because they were drunk, some for foul language. Every day, Vladyka recorded how everyone was in church, school, and at work. St. Nicholas also paid great attention to the students’ health, because they were very poor and hungry in Japan at that time. Therefore, the seminary even organized a dacha in the mountains that the seminarians regularly visited. In the summer they went to the seaside. They tried to provide them all with good food and made them play sports and keep up their personal hygiene. Vladyka also demanded that the seminarians keep a journal, talking about trips home, who they preached to, and what difficulties they experienced. Such an attentive, deeply human approach to those around him, inherent in many Japanese, of course greatly drew them to the personality of St. Nicholas.

—Since you’ve hit upon the question of mentality, I would like to ask, what would you, having lived in Japan for so long, identify as the key features of the Japanese mentality?

—They are, of course: responsibility, collectivism, and, most importantly, love for their country—the Japanese often say, “I am happy to have been born in Japan.” In terms of love for their homeland and probably collectivism too, Russians and the Japanese are very similar. The climate is rather harsh in Russia, while in Japan they have almost constant earthquakes, fires, tsunamis—how could they get by without collectivism? But the most important thing in Japan is human relations. That is, if you don’t get along well with people, you will fall out of society. Do you know who one of the most beloved fairytale characters is in Japan? You’re going to fall out of your chair. It’s our Russian Cheburashka. Why? Because he is friendly with everyone—it’s very important. Also, everything must be balanced for the Japanese—this is foundational for their worldview. There should be nothing sharp, nothing broken, and nothing destroyed at all. The Japanese, oddly enough, very rarely say the word “no” or categorically refuse anything.

Japanese students

Japanese students
   
—In your view, what is the most valuable thing in the Japanese educational system? How traditional is it?

—The educational system in Japan is being gradually reformed—unfortunately, often not in a positive direction. Sometimes, for example, they reduce the humanitarian subjects in favor of the technical. My co-workers with whom I worked for many years as a professor say that this used to be a good university, and now it’s more like a strong vocational school. Of course, due to the low birth rate, there are fewer students and teachers. But it’s very difficult to get a job at a university without a degree now. It’s also good that universities now have obligatory full-fledged scientific societies.

Tokyo University

Tokyo University
   
—Japan is a very high-tech country, but at the same time, tradition plays a rather strong part in Japanese life. How do modern Japanese combine tradition and modern technology? How do they support the institution of the family?

—The preserving of tradition and the institution of the family is a big problem in Japan today; although, there are Japanese who surely have positive experiences in this regard too. There are many divorces today, and people get married late or don’t start a family at all, preferring a career path. But they’ve at least started making good family films in Japan. In Russia, the films are mainly about criminals and corruption. I’m ashamed of our television, of our country, because it’s pure garbage pouring out of the TV onto people. But there they have historical dramas, and far more good family films. Perhaps many of them are naïve, but they’re a positive example for the youth.

—How do ordinary Japanese people feel about Russia and Russian culture?

—Of course, everything depends on the specific person, but overall, they have a good feeling about it. Even Russian food seems tasty to the Japanese. I went to Germany, for example, and my co-worker said, “Where are you going? They have such terrible food there!” Food is very important for the Japanese. Their favorite word is “oi si,” meaning “delicious.” Russia has the most delicious food. And most importantly, there are hospitable people there. They also love Italy—everything Italian is beautiful to them. Italian cordiality also attracts them.



—Many think that the Japanese have a closed character. Would you agree?

—No, they are not closed. They’re just shy. See, from their mother’s milk they absorb the idea that you mustn’t cause any inconvenience for anyone. Thus, the children especially do not scream. You should always behave properly. Until recently, it forbidden to keep even a dog or cat in a multi-story building. What if the cat suddenly starts meowing or the dog starts barking? The Japanese are very law-abiding, but, most importantly, they respect one another. That’s not being closed, but restraint, modesty. Sure, they don’t open up immediately before a stranger, but if they began to trust him, then they will reveal their entire soul. They’re also very trusting.

—And the last question: What is the state of the Orthodox Church in Japan today? Does it have any prospects?

—Thank God, the Church is alive and growing. Of course, we are very short of priests. There are only two or three students in seminary, and they only take people with a higher education. We need to work with the young people, to educate them and engage them in Church life. The external environment is very aggressive right now.



The Japanese Orthodox Church has many great and great-great-grandchildren of those who were baptized by St. Nicholas. In general, Vladyka’s spirit and tradition is still preserved there. There is communality everywhere. The faithful hold Bible Studies. There are active sisterhoods. For example, we collect quality items and give them to a charity or send them to countries suffering from catastrophes. Everyone goes on pilgrimages together and celebrates Old Calendar Nativity. There is always a common meal after every Liturgy, as St. Nicholas established. Therefore, despite the problems and difficulties, thank God, the spirit of a living Christian community has been largely preserved.

Constantine Beliy
spoke with Eleonora Sablina
Translated by Jesse Dominick

Pravoslavie.ru

5/19/2018

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