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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Paul Evdokimov

In the catacombs, the most frequent image is the figure of a woman in prayer, the Orans; she represents the one true attitude of the human soul. It is not enough to say prayers; one must become, be prayer, prayer incarnate. It is not enough to have moments of praise. All of life, each act, every gesture, even the smile of the human face, must become a hymn of adoration, an offering, a prayer. One should not offer what one has, but what one is. ... It translates the message of the Gospel : khaíre, "rejoice and be glad," "let everything that has breath praise the Lord." This is the astonishing lightening of the weight of the world, when man's own heaviness vanishes.

Via Daily Readings in Orthodox Spirituality, ed. P. Bouteneff (Templegate Publishers, 1996), p. 55. Originally appeared in The Sacrament of Love (SVS Press, 1985), pp. 61-63.

Paul Evdokimov

Eve is called "mother of all the living," but the author of Genesis who, in his prophetic clear-sightedness assigned this name, envisioned infinitely more than a mere biological continuation, more than a "seal of grace promised," more than the prospect that from such a race, would arise "the queen arrayed in gold of Ophir" (Ps 45:10). Our biological conformity to the life of our species reflects our spiritual conformity to eternal life. The second Eve was proclaimed "God-bearer" (Theotokos) by the Third Ecumenical Council (Ephesus, 431). The one who gives birth to the Eternal God, the one who gives human life to the Ever-Living One, is herself immortalized. It is in this magnificent sense that Eve is called Life (Gen 3:20). Now we can understand why it is the woman who received the message of salvation. The message of the Annunciation is addressed to a woman; the risen Christ appears first to a woman, and it is "the woman robed with the sun" (Rev 12:1) who represents the New Jerusalem. Scripture exalts woman as the religious element of human nature. Woman is the mouth of humanity through with the humble "Be it done unto me" (fiat) of the servant of God replied to the creative fiat ("Let it be done") of the heavenly Father. Woman is this free "Amen" of all humanity which, in the work of the Incarnation, becomes the indispensable human foundation.

Paul Evdokimov, Woman and the Salvation of the World : A Christian Anthropology on the Charisms of Women, trans. A. P. Gythiel (St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1994), pp. 155-6.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Paul Evdokimov

From his book Woman and the Salvation of the World (St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1994), pp. 223-5


To woman belongs the task of correcting the masculine zeal that blunders so frequently, deeper and deeper, into a profanation of the mysteries, to the detriment of the spiritual values.

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In the Kontakion of the Annunciation, the Virgin is called the "victorious leader of triumphant hosts" -- not as a woman warrior but as one who is, by nature, deadly to demons and invincible by her triumphant purity. She has the power to bruise the head of the serpent, but not by her deeds (the domain of the masculine). It is through her very being that "in her invincible power, she keeps us free from every peril."

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The fact that a woman gave birth to God shows the power of every woman, when she is indeed a "new creation," to bring forth God in devastated souls.

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Salvation will come only from holiness; but in the conditions of actual life, sanctity is more at home to woman. The Virgin "treasured up all these things in her heart" (Lk 2:51); every woman holds an innate intimacy, almost a complicity, with the tradition, with the continuity of life. In God, existence coincides with essence. In holiness, a woman is more apt to come close to this relationship of essence and existence through the power of humility, since "humility is the art of finding oneself exactly at one's place." In contrast to all egalitarianism and all demands, this is the most natural resplendence of her charismatic state. This is the ministry of the Paraclete, the grace of consolation and of joy, which presupposes a feminine being as a mother for whom each being is a child. The world will be saved by Beauty -- not just any beauty, but that of the Holy Spirit, that of the woman "robed with the sun."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Paul Evdokimov

In the immense cathedral which is the universe of God, each man, whether scholar or manual laborer, is called to act as the priest of his whole life -- to take all that is human, and to turn it into an offering and a hymn of glory.

(Quoted by Bishop Kallistos Ware in The Orthodox Way, SVS Press, 1995, p. 65)