The two Eves

Early Christian writers were quick to make a connection between Eve and Mary. St. Paul teaches us that Jesus is the new Adam, healing and perfecting everything lost in the fall of the first Adam.

But just as the fall began with a woman’s disobedience to God, the liberation of humanity begins with a woman’s obedience to God. Mary was not forced to carry the Christ Child. She freely accepted this calling: “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it happen to me as you have said.” Thus, Mary is the new Eve, the mother of the “new man”—humanity restored to glory and eternal life by Jesus her son.

There is a wonderful symmetry to this. The fall of humanity required the participation of both genders, male and female. It was not complete until both Adam as well as Eve took part in the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Likewise, both genders take part of the world’s salvation.

The tears of Eve are wiped away by the steadfast love of Mary who crushes the power of the evil one by giving birth to God incarnate.

The salt of the earth

In today’s Gospel lectionary Reading, Jesus says, “Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another. (Mark 9:50)”

We are called to be the “salt of the earth,” to season and preserve the world through godly lives. But let’s pay attention to how Jesus defines our “saltiness” in this passage: “have peace with one another.”

Continue reading “The salt of the earth”

Happy St. Herman’s Day

“St Herman, for many the Patron of North America, was born near Moscow around 1756 to a pious merchant family, and entered monastic life at the age of sixteen, at the Trinity – St Sergius Lavra near St Petersburg. He was tonsured a monk in 1783 with the name of Herman (a form of Germanos), and was received into Valaam Monastery on Lake Ladoga. After some time, he was allowed to withdraw to the life of a hermit in the forest, and only came to the monastery for feast days.

In 1793, in response to a request by the Russian-American Commercial Company for missionaries to Alaska, Valaam Monastery was told to select a company of its best monks to travel to America. Eight were chosen, of whom the hermit Herman was one. The company crossed all of Siberia and, almost a year later, first saw Kodiak Island in September 1794. The missionaries set about their work, and found the native Aleut people so receptive to the Gospel of Christ that in the first year about 7,000 were baptized and 1,500 marriages performed.

The missionaries’ major difficulty was with the Russian traders and settlers, who were in the habit of exploiting the Aleuts as they wished, and who had oppressed and disgusted the native people with their immoral behavior. When the missionaries came to the defense of the natives, they were repaid with the opposition of the Russian-American company, whose leadership put countless obstacles in the path of their work. In time, several of the company died at sea, and several more abandoned the mission in discouragement, leaving the monk Herman alone.

He settled on Spruce Island near Kodiak, and once again took up the hermit’s life, dwelling in a small cabin in the forest. He spent his days in prayer and mission work, and denied himself every fleshly comfort: he fasted often and lived on a diet of blackberries, mushrooms and vegetables (in Alaska!!). Despite these privations, he founded an orphanage and a school for the natives of the island, cared for the sick in epidemics, and built a chapel where he conducted divine services attended by many. (He was not a priest, but God made up the lack in miraculous ways: at Theophany, Angels descended to bless the waters of the bay, and the Saint would use the holy water to heal the sick). Asked if he was ever lonely or dejected in his solitude, and replied: “I am not alone; God is here as everywhere, and the Angels too. There is no better company.”

Saint Herman reposed in peace on Spruce island, at the age of eighty-one, in 1836. He was officially glorified in 1970, the first canonized American Saint.”


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