Saints’ Relics Found: Lost Romanov bones ‘identified’

Lost Romanov bones ‘identified’:

Russian scientists have said they may have identified the missing remains of two of Tsar Nicholas II’s children, who were executed after the revolution.

Experts said it was “highly probable” the remains found near Yekaterinburg in July were Alexei, the heir to the throne, and Maria, his elder sister.

They were missing when most of the family’s remains were found in 1991.

The tsar, his wife and five children were shot dead by a Bolshevik firing squad in Yekaterinburg on 17 July 1918.

In 2000, the Russian Orthodox Church canonised the royal family, saying they had undergone suffering with gentleness, patience and humility.

Read the rest at the link above.

The Life of Saints–in Books!

While I have my own thoughts as to my having access to a living saint (in a way to be distinguished from all Christians being saints), nearly all of my access to the life of the saints is through books.

I have gained an ever greater appreciation since my chrismation that learning about theology is poorly done by way of theology books, though in God’s grace these serve us, too.  Rather theology is best learned by reading the accounts of the life of the saints, emulating them in humble realization of our own weaknesses and limitations, and by praying to them.

I have collected, over the internet, akathists to some of our household saints (St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, St. Herman of Alaska, and Blessed Hieromonk Seraphim Rose of Platina), but have felt the lack of services to the other of our household saints (St. Benedict, St. Genevieve, St. Nina and St. Brigid).  Thanks to St. John of Kronstadt Press I have gained some of what has been lacking.

Probably the best of the bunch was the life of St. Genevieve of Paris (Anna’s saint), which contains a fairly full account of her life, but best of all has three prayers (two set to music) at the end of the book.  I don’t know why, but finding prayers to St. Genevieve (from Orthodox sources), has been difficult.  This is a real treasure.

I also picked up the service, akathist and life and miracles of St. Nicholas (yes, that St. Nicholas).  With the Nativity fast and St. Nicholas’ day coming up, I wanted to really be able to enter into his feast day this year.

But of course, it was most satisfying to receive the booklet of the life, service and akathist AND translation of the Rule for St. Benedict.   And in celebration, I prayed small compline with the akathist to St. Benedict last night.  At the risk of making an utterly inane comment, it prays very well.

SKJP also has a life and akathist for St. Nina (Sofie’s saint), and next I need to find an Orthodox (or pre-Schism) source for prayers (or an akathist) for St. Brigid (Delaina’s saint).

It’s amazing how these services really bring about an experience (as opposed to an intellectual understanding) of the closeness of the saints.  (Icons do that, too, of course.  In fact, our icon of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco has seemed particularly, if you’ll pardon me, alive, lately.)  Last night, having prayed the akathist to St. Benedict, I really felt his living presence.

The Life of the Saints and the Obligation of History

Protestants generally do not have the proper knowledge of, much less an appreciation for, the history of Christianity. For many Protestants, Church history consists of the era of the apostles, followed by a sharp break until the Reformation. References to historical events between those two points generally attack Constantine and Erastianism, and Roman Catholic abuses, or, very rarely, show selective appreciation for the first four Ecumenical Councils, though mostly I Nicea. As a Restoration Movement Christian, my exposure to, knowledge of and appreciation for Church history was even less: the apostolic era, followed by the sectarian focus on the Stone-Campbell churches arising in the early decades of the nineteenth century.

This devaluation, intentional or no, of Church history is a gnosticization of the Faith of the Apostles. It is a diminishing of the dominical command to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, to the mind—for such a truncation of history necessarily leads to an extremist and unbalanced focus on doctrine above all else—creating division within oneself as allegiances compete.

This devaluation of the history of the Church leads inevitably to the rupture between the life of the Church grounded in history and the individuals who absolutize dogma. Cut off from the life of the Church, these gnostic dogmatists, also cut themselves off from the communion of the saints, for after all, unless a saint articulates particular dogmae, of what use is the account of their life? And so it is not surprising that Protestants, and the Restoration Movement Christians of my upbringing, have no saints. Or, rather, the saints of Protestantism are flannelgraph figures, mere paedagogical devices for what we ought to know and the moral practices we are to do.

Continue reading “The Life of the Saints and the Obligation of History”