Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Movie "Bram Stoker's Dracula": Interesting Facts for Orthodox Christians

Though Bram Stoker's novel Dracula is one of my favorite works of fiction, the movie adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola in 1992 is among my least favorite on-screen depictions (though it is a very entertaining movie with good cinematography and gothic atmospherics). By putting the authors name into the title, it was hailed to be the most accurate depiction of the story on film, when in reality very little is accurate but for certain details. The same false advertising was done with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, also directed by Coppola. Having said this, there are a few interesting facts within the film that may be of interest to Orthodox Christians.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Saint James, Who Was Beguiled to Worship the Devil

St. James, Who Was Beguiled to Worship the Devil (Feast Day - June 13)


Haughtiness is not the most severe passion,
But through it the enemy beguiled James.

Saint James had such love for Christ, and so little regard for the things of this world, that he liquidated his entire estate and gave the proceeds to the poor without spending any of the money on himself. He gave himself over to a life of poverty, fasting and prayer. His life won him the praise of the people. Later, instead of closing his ears to this praise, he fell into a demonic temptation and became very proud. He would say, "Who knows better than I do, concerning my own salvation?" Following his own self-will and personal preferences, he lived in solitude and undertook difficult struggles without first seeking the advice of wise and experienced ascetics. This was diagnosed to be his downfall.

While in solitude with a puffed up ego, a demon appeared to him in the guise of an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). He told James that Christ was very pleased by his labors and that he was an equal of the Apostle Paul, and therefore he would come that night to reward him. "Clean your cell," the demon said, "and make ready by lighting the lamps and burning incense."

The foolish James, in his delusion, accepted all of this without question. When Satan came at midnight, James opened his door and fell down in worship before him. Satan mocked him and struck him on the head, then vanished after James made the sign of the Cross.

James fell into despair and at dawn went to visit a certain Elder to tell him what had happened. Before James could speak a single word, the Elder said, "You must leave this place, for you have been deceived by Satan."

James was heartbroken and wept bitter tears. The Elder also advised him to go to a cenobitic monastery, which he did. There he fulfilled his obedience in the dining room with great humility and obedience. Then for seven years he sat in his cell working at some handicraft, and fulfilling his rule of prayer.

Saint James acquired the gift of discernment, learned the straight and narrow path of God, and became a great wonderworker for being an example of humility. He completed the course of his life in peace.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Christian Brothers and Message Behind the 'Conjuring' Films

Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes are two brothers from a family of pastors and missionaries, and are committed Christians themselves, who also happen to be the screenwriters behind the The Conjuring (2013), the second highest grossing original horror film behind The Exorcist, and the highly anticipated sequel The Conjuring 2 (2016).

To read about why these two brothers have decided to dedicate themselves to mixing the Christian message with horror films, see the following two interviews:

Monday, June 6, 2016

Do You Seek A Heavenly Vision?

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Spiritists of our day accept every manifestation from the spiritual world as though sent by God, and immediately they boast that God has been "revealed" to them.

I knew an eighty year old monk whom everyone respected as a great spiritual director. To my question: "Have you ever in your life seen anything from the spiritual world?", the monk answered me, "No, never, praise be to God's Mercy." Seeing that I was astonished at this, he said, "I have constantly prayed to God that nothing appear to me, so that, by chance, I would not succumb to pride and receive a fallen devil as an angel. Thus far, God has heard my prayers." This recorded example shows how humble and cautious the elders were.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

St. John Chrysostom's Three Homilies on the Devil (Homily 3)

Three Homilies on the Devil

Homily 3. On the Power of Man to Resist the Devil

(That evil comes of sloth, and virtue from diligence, and that neither wicked men, nor the devil himself, are able to do the wary man any harm. The proof of this from many passages, and amongst others from those which relate to Adam and to Job.)

By St. John Chrysostom

1. The day before yesterday we set on foot our sermon concerning the Devil, out of our love for you. But others, the day before yesterday while these matters were being set on foot here, took their places in the theatre, and were looking on at the Devil's show. They were taking part in lascivious songs; you were having a share in spiritual music. They were eating of the Devil's garbage: you were feeding on spiritual unguents. Who pray decoyed them? Who pray separated them from the sacred flock? Did the Devil pray deceive them? How did he not deceive you? You and they are men alike; I mean as regards your nature. You and they have the same soul, you have the same desires, so far as nature is concerned. How is it then that you and they were not in the same place? Because you and they have not the same purpose. On this account they indeed are under deception, but you beyond deception. I do not say these things again as discharging the Devil from accusation, but as desiring earnestly to free you from sins. The Devil is wicked; I grant this indeed, but he is wicked for himself not towards us if we are wary. For the nature of wickedness is of this kind. It is destructive to those alone who hold to it. Virtue is the contrary. It is not only able to profit those who hold to it, but those nearest at hand too. And in order that you may learn that evil is evil in itself, but good is also good to others, I provide you with proverbial evidence: "My son," says he, "if you have become evil, you shall bear your evils alone, but if wise, for yourself and your neighbor."