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The peculiarity of the Western European Orthodox saints

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The peculiarity of the Western European Orthodox saints



Nestor the Chronicler said that every nation plays its important part in the world symphony of meaning and beauty that the Lord created.

To understand the beauty of the people, it is necessary to turn the heart to his saints and his writers. To their lives, thoughts, words, deeds. Only then can we look at this people as seen from heaven. Then we will deeply see his originality in being and once again rejoice in the Lord’s wisdom, which blesses the blossoming difference of the universe!

Who are the Celtic and Anglo-Saxon saints and how did they differ from all the others?

The world as a legend, where good triumphs over evil

Andrei Phillips says: “In former times, England was called“ merry ”(in English“ merry ”), but merry not in the modern, but in the ancient sense of the word, that is,“ blissful, ”“ consecrated. ” All these traditions have truly blessed the English land. ” All the highest and the brightest, all that the hearts of the good people who inhabit this country rejoice, are in essence rays of light coming from Christ and fully revealed in the Orthodox Church.

Different people spoke differently about the grace that came to them. For the northern saints, this luminosity of the universe was something like a living fairy tale, a high epic legend, where every monster will be defeated with God's help, and all the good ones will be waited by happiness. And the keys to this legend were pure heart and Liturgy. Peace, nature, history – they heed God, and He makes everything good for us.

The Old Testament Jesus son of Sirach writes that in due time "everything will be recognized as good." The northern saints trust it now. Is it not one of the reasons why the modern heirs of the attitude of the ancient saints – storytellers – are so numerous in these northern countries? Indeed, in the tale lies the deepest wisdom about the incessant beauty of the universe and the certainty of a good end for all the good.

Here you can recall the words of Chesterton, that people know the dragon, and so, the fairy tale gives them St. George. That is – evil can be defeated and overthrown, and good will lead all the good to a happy end.

Clement of Alexandria writes: “For us all life is a holiday. We recognize God as existing everywhere. Joy is the main characteristic feature of the Church. ”

And the tale conveys this great secret of the good – that the whole being exists entirely for joy. That is how the Celts perceived the fabulousness and poetry of the world – as a result of the Lord’s touch on it. God has nothing bad for anyone. He is love, and love cannot allow evil to be loved. And this makes our work on earth precious, no matter what we do – whether we preach to the pagans, write poetry or raise a child – He looks at us everywhere and we cannot but rejoice about it.

By this logic, every good word and deed is poetry that adorns this land. And the road to joy is worth going through.


Therefore, there are so many poets among the holy Celts and the Anglo-Saxons, as well as among the Celtic monks. Moreover, the saints of the North suffer when they cannot express the heart in a word. Such is Kedmon Uitbiysky and Kolamba Scottish. Some verses tell about the help of the saints to those who write poems ..

The Celts felt the grace spread in the world as the Lord, the poetry of being, and rejoiced in all this beauty. The world for them was to some extent a verse that sounded, the book of the Lord, as Kolamba Kill spoke about.

If the Byzantine hymnography is not so much poetic as it is dogmatic, then the Celts put poetry into the basis of their hymnography. Because the ancient prayers of the North are so beautiful.

Let us give one image of the eighth century poem written by an Irish monk to the image of this exultant-thankful world view:

The book is revealed before me

Green forest rustles around.

Trees are climbing a wall

Touching the crowns of heaven.

And the hubbub of birds overhead

Distributed throughout the land.

So sweet work in the shadow of the forest!

God blessings truly to me!

Poetry for the Celtic saints was a kind of continuation of the Liturgy, because poetry and fairy tale exist to praise that and those who love, and through them to praise the Creator and Savior. Such a poet does not necessarily write poetry, but the whole world for him is a live song of the Lord. After all, it is no wonder that God is named in the Creed as the poet of heaven and earth (the Creator is in Greek, poetos). And here we need a special subtlety of the soul in order to perceive this poetry of being. Among the Celts, the mood for the poetry of the world existed in paganism, Christianity gave all this a foundation and indicated the source of light. Perhaps because the Irish so quickly and easily adopted Christianity, it pointed to God as the founder of beauty, who makes the world a good one.

Here, Celtic Christianity is close to Syrian (and the Irish were familiar with the Byzantine and Syrian traditions of Christianity). If logic and philosophy were important for the Greeks, for Syrians and Jews it was the poetry of revelation and life. It is noteworthy that the Syrian saints, as a rule, do not deal with questions of dogma. For them, the feeling of God and the chanting of God was more important, and in dogma they relied entirely on the Church. You could even say that it was more important for the Syrians to feel what the Greeks were talking about. So the Irish saints did not leave us dogmatic writings. But they left the experience of the world as a universal liturgy, where we all exist for joy and then to multiply the light in ourselves and without each day and give it to all our loved ones. Just because they exist in the world.

It is impossible to see the beauty of God and His world and not sing about it. The meeting of love is the true source of the word for a sanctified person. Therefore, all the great theologians of the church are, first of all, poets. In this sense, a poet is anyone who expresses the grace of the heart in words. And such words, whatever a person touches, have a feeling that life is paradise.

The pursuit of knowledge and creativity

And here we go to the third line of the northern saints – the deepest desire for knowledge and creativity. The meaning of all knowledge is to see the wisdom of God again and again through science, touch it, admire it.

Whatever a person studies, only God radiates from every cell of being, and every science is full of Him. Christians of the West still consider knowledge as a virtue – and this is an echo of the thoughts of the ancient saints, for whom knowledge has always been a meeting. Therefore, the same Hilda of Whitby suggested that priests should teach literature and poetry.

Creativity for the northern saints appears as one of the facets of the image of God, as one of the meanings by which God brought us into being – to multiply the beauty anointed by the Spirit. For only such beauty will not die, but, according to the old man Sofroniy Sakharov, will be saved with the saved person and taken to eternity.


No matter how much we learn the topic that is dear to us, for example, the history of Ireland, there will still be more information on the Internet and books about this than in our head. But we are not learning to compare with the computer. What is important is not knowledge in itself, but the experience of meeting through this knowledge with the Lord — the foundation of all wisdom and beauty. And telling others about something unknown to them – the Viking invasion of Ireland or the habits of the mother of Blessed Augustine – we must first of all give them a touch of the sky and His beauty, which we inspired by increasing our knowledge.

The ancient saints of Western Europe are precious to us also because every corner of the world does not exist for no reason – it exists in history, which is the story of God's providence leading us all to the truth. But this is revealed to us gradually, as children suddenly find out that the stone that served as a hen trough turns out to be a plague stone, which was exhibited at the entrance to the sick village. The stone has a story, like the whole earth around. Thousands of people lived here, searched, made friends, tried. The biographies of the ancient saints make it possible, as it were, to look at how beauty grew on earth. And, let for modern people so many ancient names will never be known – all of them are unknown in history, they lived not in vain. And once they have made good, it still springs in the world, and it will continue until the Coming of the Lord. “No good, no matter how unimportant, will not be neglected by God,” writes John Chrysostom. We are growing towards the sky thanks to the unknown actions of thousands of people unknown to us, who lived before us. Their prayers, works, loyalty, and authenticity sprout after thousands of years. Although we know so little about this, that the tip of the stone arrow, which the ancient, obscure hero defended the village from a flock of saber-toothed tigers, is taken for a regular, uninteresting pebble. And yet his act, like the songs composed by people in his memory, albeit long forgotten, but living in the souls of those who came to replace them, right up to our time. After all, we and all our striving for light are made up of millions of aspirations that people had before, but set the present to this most important of aspirations – by all means find the light to serve it with all our heart and intelligence.

The holiness of each person and nation is unique. And, although the time of the “Island of the Saints” is long past, but that Holy Ireland and its wonderful inhabitants live in heaven. And their beauty (as it always happens with those who have blossomed in the Spirit), when we also come to heaven and meet them, will turn out to be similar and unlike all other beauty that is familiar to us …

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