Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dostoevsky and Spiritualism

By Thomas E. Berry, University of Maryland

From the reign of Catherine the Great to the Revolution of 1917, Russian society and literature were affected by the relationship between Western spiritualism with its seances and mediums and an ancient folk tradition with its superstitions and fancifulness. The common Russian belief in spirits, combined with the Western occult science, brought charlatans into the highest court circles throughout the last hundred and fifty years of the Romanov's rule. Cagliostro drew the attention of Catherine II; the Baroness Krudener instructed Alexander I; D.D. Home had the patronage of Alexander II; and Rasputin and Dr. Philippe had a close relationship with Nicholas II. The Czars were the inheritors of two strong social forces: a folk tradition based on the mystical and the miraculous dating back hundreds of years and a fervent search for historical and spiritual meaning among the Russian intelligentsia. Only Nicholas I failed to understand the popularity of spiritualism in Russia and his jack of interest separated him from the mainstream of Russian life. Most Russian monarchs were greatly influenced by the spread of spiritualistic forces. It was as if folk superstitions and Western spiritualism were destined to blend together and contribute to the fall of the Russian Empire.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Abba Pachomios and the Phantom

And it came to pass once when Abba [Pachomios], and Theodore whom he loved, were walking through the monastery by night, that they saw suddenly a great phantom, which was full of the deepest deceit; now that which appeared was in the form of a woman, and its beauty was of so indescribable a character that no man was able to tell the beauty, or the form, or the appearance, which belonged to that phantom, and even Theodore, who looked at that phantom, was exceedingly perturbed, and his face changed color. And when the blessed man saw that he was afraid, he said unto him, “Be of good cheer in the Lord, O Theodore, and fear not,” and the holy man, having said these things unto him, commanded him to pray with him, that the phantom which was striking wonder into them might be driven away. And as they were praying the phantom came nearer and nearer and took a solid form, and when it, and the company of devils which ran before it, drew nigh, for their prayer did not drive it back, it came forward and said unto them, “Why do you labor in vain? You are unable at this present to do anything whatsoever against me, for I have received authority from God, Who sustains the universe, to tempt whomsoever I please; and I have abundance of time in which to do this, for this I have asked from God.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

How to Talk to Children about Demons, Hell and Death

By Nun Magdalene

It is a serious educational mistake to talk to young children in detail about demons, because if a child hears once how they are, it is impossible to not stop imagining them.

Adults may be warned of the danger they risk by allowing images of demons invade their minds, but a young child, even if they are warned, can't easily stop thinking about something that torments them, and this can result in a dangerous state of mind or, at least, to suffer from nightmares. When young children ask about the devil or the existence of evil spirits, it is preferable not to make a thorough analysis, but to say that you should not give them more attention than they have in dreams or something similar. Generally we should turn the minds of children to Christ, the saints and the angels.