Saturday, January 24, 2004

on Basil The Wandering Fool

I noticed in my post on St. Xenia below, that one might be tempted to derive some significance from the fact that St. Xenia is called a "Holy Fool", and in her troparion is called a "Wanderer" and the fact that I recently changed my logon-name to "Basil The Wandering Fool," so let me clear up a few things:

Whereas in Protestant thought, all Christians are readily called "saints" (after all, Paul wrote to "the saints" didn't he?), on the other hand there is nothing more arrogant, nor more sinful, in Orthodox Tradition that for a person to consider themselves a saint. In fact, if someone is being considered for canonization as a recognized saint, it is certain they won't be if there is any suggestion that they thought of themselves as saintly. So, let me be clear, I am not calling myself "Basil The Wandering Fool" because of any even remote inclination toward holiness. I am far from holy. It is a coincidence that those two phrases "wandering" and "fool" have coincided in a troparion of the Church, for I have never noticed them presented that way before.

I made this recent change, because in the depths of my own heart, I know I am a wandering soul, and I know I am a fool. Sometimes I even fear that I'm one of those types of people mentioned in the Scripture:

These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.
- Jude 1:12-13

or the Holy Aposlte James:
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

- James 1:5-8

For I feel myself wandering, like one without water, through the deserts of my own heart, and I find myself multifaced, with a multitude of conflicting ideas and opinions. Am I unstable in all my ways? I pray not. I hope not. But I have what I hope to be a healthy fear that I am.

Let me explain: I have no hestiancy in my faith. My faith is boundless, my heart is full of the love of God, my mind is settled on the teaching of the Church. But my body does not do what my mind always wants it to do. My body leads me down many a broken and wretched path, and I find myself powerless to change that. No, worse, I do not even wish to change that, at least not everything.

So, I am calling myself a wanderer and a fool. I seek for wisdom not only from the Divine, but from every hidden corner of the earth - why? because I want to believe that God has not completely hidden his Wisdom from nature. I want to believe that God can be found and seen - in all His Beauty and all His Terror - in every corner of this earth.

And I go looking for Him there.

Lord have mercy on my soul.


St. Xenia of Petersburg

Today is the special day of the Blessed St. Xenia of Petersburg.

Lives of the Saints - Blessed Xenia of Petersburg

St. Xenia holds a special place in our lives, as being the patron saint of our daughter, Xenia.

The Holy Fools are an amazing type of saint, known for their strange portentous deeds. St. Xenia was known for many such things: wandering the streets of St. Petersburg in her husband's old clothes, sneaking into a Church being constructed to help move bricks (depicted in the icon above), making stange utterances that caused people to repent, or seek God more fervently.

I love that kind of stuff! It is the stuff that makes you think, and the sort of stuff that you remember for a long time to come. (I chose St. Basil the Holy Fool as my own saint, I love that stuff so much.)

Here is a pretty good web page on St. Xenia.


In thee, O wandering stranger, Christ the Lord hath given us an ardent intercessor for our kind. For having received in thy life sufferings and grief and served God and men with love, thou didst acquire great boldness. Wherefore, we fervently hasten to thee in temptations and grief, crying out from the depths of our hearts: Put not our hope to shame, O Blessed Xenia.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004


Thanks to James for an opportunity to explore the strange labyrinth of history on this strange man.

(Rasputin - Old Imperial Stout an interesting and provocative beer - quite tasty)

Well I was wondering tonight about the character of this creature Rasputin. Was he a demented devil as portrayed by Disney?

Was he a simple monk who came to the aid of the Tsarina?

Was he a self serving imposter who tried to take the political reigns of Russia?

Is he the ultimate cause of 70 years of communist power in Russia?

I'm curious and I haven't exactly made up my own mind about this fellow.

Here's a web site that is PRO Rasputin.

And here is a web site that is a bit more negative about him, but not necessarily "against" him.

The sort of thing I'm wondering a little is: was he actually an ordained member of the clergy of the Orthodox Church? (A Reader? A Monk? otherwise?) Anyone know?