Orthodox Survival Course, Class 56: Memory and Eternity

Listen to the podcast of this talk at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/osc56 or https://www.bitchute.com/video/TED53EnAeuzm/

Thanks and Request for Donations

Again, thanks to our donors. May the Lord reward your love with His grace! To our other listeners: please consider a gift to help me out. If you have PayPal, you can send a gift to my account at [email protected]. If you want to receive a receipt for a tax deduction, contact me at that email, and I can tell you how to donate to our parish, who in turn will pass the donation on to me and send you a receipt.

Let’s Take a Break

We have been talking about sad things for so long that I think we need a break. We cannot speak only of what is evil, but must also – and more importantly – speak of what is good, because only good can preserve us from the evil. Today I want to talk about two related things, memory and eternity. Memory is one of the essential weapons for fighting off our would-be jailers and staying free from the mental prison of the new normal they are working so hard to create in our minds, and memory, ultimately, is the gateway to eternity, something I’ll explain later.

But I’ll start by sharing some memories of my own. They are not just things that happened in my life, but also memories passed on to me by others.

– Sharecroppers

– Methodist Sunday school

– The parish coroner

– A monastic vocation under the Habsburgs

– A childhood memory of the Russian Royal Martyrs

Write Your Autobiography

I offered these snippets from my life not because my life is more important or interesting than other people’s, but because it’s what I know. (Every writer ends up writing about what he knows best, of course.) But my purpose is to show you how your memory, or your memory of other people’s memories, your version of the story they passed on to you, is a door to the world of meaning, the meaning that is inside of you. It is so critical, right now, this moment, today, to sit down and go over our whole life, and write it down, if we have never done that, and all along the tale we tell, to relate how God was working in our life, to put our story into the Great Story of how God made us and saved us and is coming again to bring us to His heavenly kingdom. Before you write, ask the Lord to enlighten you to remember everything that’s happened and also, most importantly, to see it all in the light of His providence over you. Your own history under His providence is a microcosm of the history of all men under that same providence. He has done and will do everything for our salvation. Always remember that, and always be grateful. Remembrance and gratitude are the way out of sadness and a great strength in times of trouble. Writing about the sad things and the bad things is cathartic – it cleanses us. Writing about the good things is uplifting. The beautiful and the ugly things, the good and the bad, the false paths we trod and the delusions we finally shucked, and the truth we finally, painfully obtained by the power of God’s merciful love for us – it’s all there. Just try it – you’ll see.

Store Up the Right Books

Memory writ large is what we call “history.” It is our corporate memory, the shared memory of the Church, of a nation, of a people, of a civilization. The funny thing is that as the vandals are destroying the monuments and the schools are refusing to tell the truth, the old books are still there, actually more available than ever. The bad guys think they don’t need to destroy them, because they’ve made everyone so stupid that they don’t want to read or don’t know how. Well, we don’t have to prove them right. Let’s prove them wrong and do some reading. Let me give some examples of books you ought to have:

1. The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica – Remember that all hell breaks loose in 1914. We are living after the end of the world. This 1911 Britannica is a concise written record of how Western man viewed himself at the height of his achievement. Of course, we have to filter it all through our Orthodox viewpoint, but so much of the data, unimpaired by marxist deconstruction, is there. You can still buy it, I think – the real books I mean – but here is a link to where you can read it online:


And here you can actually download it (which is what you should do), but you’ll need the djvu application to read it: https://archive.org/details/Encyclopedia_Britannica_1911_Complete

2. The Library of Universal History Moses Coit Tyler and Israel Smith Clare. Another massive, all-encompassing record of how Western man – and in particular Anglo-American man – viewed himself before the cataclysm of the 20th century. Again, filter it through your Orthodox lens (you could go back and review our Survival Course talks and read Fr. Seraphim’s Survival Course lectures to interpret what these men are saying from the Orthodox point of view). I can’t find the whole thing online, but you can still buy reproductions of it in hard copy.

3. Vladimir Moss’s world history from an Orthodox point of view. Here is the link to volume 1: http://www.orthodoxchristianbooks.com/downloads/593_AN_ESSAY_IN_UNIVERSAL_HISTORY_PART_1.pdf You can search for the rest. There will be 12 volumes, eventually, and he has finished one through six.

4. Church history (of course): Make sure you have Eusebius’s history of the early Church through the reign of St. Constantine. Get as many collections of the Lives of the Saints as you can.

5. The Fathers and the Councils through the 8th century: There are inexpensive copies of the classic Eerdmans series available. Everyone should have it! Also, look for the Catholic University of America’s Fathers of the Church series and Ancient Christian Writers series.

6. Memoria Press: Go to their website and get all you can on history and literature. It’s great. Their Famous Men of Greece and Famous Men of Rome are classics. https://www.memoriapress.com/

7. Susan Wise Bauer’s history series: https://susanwisebauer.com/

A plea: I need recommendations for church and world histories from Orthodox authors that have been translated into English, so we’re not stuck with only these Western sources that we have to re-interpret.

That’s enough for now.

The Door to Eternity

By living within the true story of our history, we break out of the fake eternity of a delusional present (as in shamanism or marxism), we live as pilgrims and strangers on the active journey of this life, and we arrive at the heavenly kingdom, which is also breaking in on us all along. The Divine Liturgy itself, the highest and greatest experience of God by man on earth, is centered on anamnesis, on memory.

Remember the vital importance of memorization! Memorize Scripture, the Psalms, prayers, poems, passages from literature. Memorize, memorize. You are storing up a treasury within your soul against the day when the books and computers will be taken away.

Living Well is the Best Revenge

God loves us and wants to be happy. Be cheerful. Say your prayers, tell stories, sing songs, and smile for your children. We belong to the Lord.

A Time for Song

Let’s do something different today. I’m going to close with three songs; well, two songs and a hymn.

Two Early American religious songs. You can find them on the album “Rose of Sharon” by the vocal group Western Wind.

Death, like an overflowing stream, sweeps us away: Our life’s but a dream, an empty tale, a morning’s flower, cut down and withered in an hour.

Father, I long, I faint to see the place of Thine abode. I’d leave Thine earthly courts and flee up to Thy seat, my God. Here I behold Thy distant face and ’tis a pleasing sight. But to abide in Thine embrace is infinite delight.

A hymn from the Latin office for St. John the Baptist: Ut queant laxis. From the Liber Usualis, a version of which (with English translations!) you can download at https://archive.ccwatershed.org/media/pdfs/13/08/14/14-39-54_0.pdf

Ut queant laxis resonare fibris
mira gestorum famuli tuorum,
solve polluti labiis reatum,
sancte Joannes.

Nuntius celso veniens Olympo,
te patri magnum fore nasciturum,
nomen, et vitae seriem gerendae,
ordine promit.

Ille promissi dubius superni
per didit promptae modulos loquelae;
sed reformasti genitus peremptae
organa vocis.

Ventris obstruso recubans cubili,
senseras Regem thalamo manentem:
hinc parens, nati, meritis, uterque,
abdita pandit.

Sit decus Patri, genitaeque proli
et tibi, compare utriusque virtus,
Spiritus semper, Deus unus, omni
Temporis aevo. Amen.
For thy spirit, holy John, to chasten
Lips sin-polluted, fettered tongues to loosen;
So by thy children might thy deeds of wonder
Meetly be chanted.

Lo! a swift herald, from the skies descending,
Bears to thy father promise of thy greatness;
How he shall name thee, what thy future story,
Duly revealing.

Scarcely believing message so transcendent,
Him for a season power of speech forsaketh,
Till, at thy wondrous birth, again returneth
Voice to the voiceless.

Thou, in thy mother’s womb all darkly cradled,
Knewest thy Monarch, biding in His chamber,
Whence the two parents, through their children’s merits,
Mysteries uttered.

Praise to the Father, to the Son begotten,
And to the Spirit, equal power. possessing,
One God whose glory, through the lapse of ages,
Ever resoundeth.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.