… the life of the Church is assimilated and known only through life—not in the abstract, not in a rational way. If one must nevertheless apply concepts to the life of the Church, the most appropriate concepts would be not juridical and archaeological ones but biological and aesthetic ones. What is ecclesiality? It is a new life, life in the Spirit. What is the criterion of the rightness of this life? Beauty. Yes, there is a special beauty of the spirit, and, ungraspable by logical formulas, it is at the same time the only true path to the definition of what is orthodox and  what is not orthodox. The connoisseurs of this beauty are the spiritual elders, the startsy, the masters of the ‘art of arts’, as the holy fathers call asceticism. The startsy were adept at assessing the quality of spiritual life. The Orthodox taste, the Orthodox temper, is felt but it is not subject to arithmetical calculation. Orthodoxy is shown, nor proved. That is why there is only one way to understand Orthodoxy: through direct orthodox experience… to become Orthodox, it is necessary to immerse oneself all at once in the very element of Orthodoxy, to begin living in an Orthodox way. There is no other way.

Pavel Florensky, The Pillar and Ground of the Truth. An Essay in Orthodox
Theodicy in Twelve Letters, trans. by Boris Jakim, Princeton NJ, 1997, pp. 8–9.

Quoted in “Lecture I: Thinking and doing, being and praying: where do we start?” which is the first of a series of lectures by Father Andrew Louth on “Orthodox Theology. A Personal Introduction.” More information here. Of course, if you should be anywhere near the Netherlands, you would be well advised to go and listen to the lectures!

A couple of things that may be of interest to others:

  • I have just discovered the Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh Archive, which is an absolutely wonderful resource providing texts, photos, audio and video materials of Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom). I haven’t had a chance to look at too much of it yet – and am slightly disappointed that I don’t seem able to download audio files to listen to when offline – but it looks like a very worthwhile place to spend more time.
  • I’ve added a few blogs to my blogroll recently. To be honest, I’ve been debating what to do about my blogroll and so haven’t added much new. But yesterday I discovered Father David Abernethy’s new blog Philokalia (thanks to a link from The Way of the Fathers) which I just had to include and mention to others. Father Abernethy is a Catholic, an Oratorian and an “Academic Candidate in Freudian Psychoanalysis,” who is writing on the Philokalia – which could well make for very worthwhile reading… 

I don’t normally watch videos online – sort of an unofficial personal rule, after all, what’s the point of not watching television if one can simply go online and watch virtually anything? – but while searching (unsuccessfully) for an English translation of the Rule of the Master I came across this short (six minute) video of Father Luke Dysinger OSB speaking on the difference between the Rule of the Master and the Rule of Saint Benedict, particularly in their view of the abbot, which may be of interest to others.

On the topic of Fr Dysinger (whose work on Evagrius I’d really like to read sometime, but that’s a longer term project), he has made some useful resources available here.

I’m afraid that I’ve been neglecting this blog recently. While Lent might have something to do with this, it’s probably due to a variety of reasons. However, I’ve been intending to highlight some worthwhile audio resources for a few weeks now, in case they are of interest to others who have not yet come across them.

  • Patristics podcasts. There are two series of short patristics podcasts available online, both by highly competent scholars. These are Deacon Matthew Steenberg of Monachos, and these are by Father John McGuckin. As an aside, Father McGuckin’s SCM Press A-Z of Patristic Theology (entiled WESTMINSTER HANDBOOK TO PATRISTIC THEOLOGY in the U.S.) is an absolutely indispensable aid to patristics novices / amateurs / ignoramusses trying to bluff their way.
  • Addresses from the Saint Vladimir’s Seminary liturgy symposium on Father Alexander Schmemann are available here. (h/t to Joe Koczera, SJ ) Father Robert Taft S.J. delivered the keynote address which Joe provides an excerpt from here. There are also some other quotable quotes that would be worth transcribing. The only other paper that I’ve listened to so far is that of Sr Vassa Larin on Schmemann and monasticism which raised some important issues – and she has a rather fun sense of humour.
  • There are three short talks by Metropolitan Jonah on preparing for Great Lent here.  These are definitely belated, but then he’s always worth listening to.
  • For those who haven’t seen it yet, Faith Comes by Hearing provides an amazing resource by providing Scripture in audio form. (h/t Fr Gregory Jensen).
  • And, while on audio matters, for those who aren’t aware of her site, Maria Lectrix has some wonderful patristic audio resources.