From the book on Father Arseny, a Russian priest who suffered decades of inhumane treatment in the Stalinist gulags and “special camps” for being an active member of a subversive organization (the Christian church).

I remember the visit of Bishop N. in 1962. He was a serious theologian, a philosopher, and many said, a good confessor. He came to have Father Arseny hear his confession. Many spiritual children of Father Arseny were going to the church where Bishop N. served.

He stayed for two days, during which time he confessed to Father Arseny and also heard his confession. They talked about the fate and the future of the Church in the Soviet Union and about what was important for the believers. Looking at Father Arseny’s library he pronounced, “The faithful one needs only the Gospel, the Bible, and the works of the Holy Fathers. All the rest isn’t worthy of attention.”

Father Arseny remained silent for a few moments and answered, “You are right, Your Holiness, the most important things are in those books, but we must remember that man as he develops nowadays is very different from man in the fourth century. The horizon of knowledge has become wider and science can now explain what couldn’t be understood then. The priests today must know a great deal in order to be able to help believers make sense of the contradictions he sees. A priest has to understand the theory of relativity, passionate atheism, the newest discoveries in biology, medicine and most of all modern philosophy. He gets visited by students of medicine, chemistry, physics, as well as by blue collar workers, and each one of them has to be given an answer to his or her questions such that religion doesn’t sound anachronistic or just a half-answer.”

Filed under: ChristianityMark O.OrthodoxReligionYou Cry Out

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