By Alvin Alexsi Currier (Available from Amazon at £5.99 in the UK)
This is a little book, published in the USA, with just 28 pages. You might think it expensive, but it is not, because this is the most Orthodox book of this year. And it will make you weep.
It tells the story of the Appearance of the Mother of God to four young Orthodox women in southern Poland in 1925. It is full of the most delightful, childlike pictures. The text also is ultra simple. But it is worth far more than all the learned tomes of ‘theology’ produced at universities and talks given at ‘conferences’. Unlike them, this book will not send you to sleep.
This book is first of all a tribute to the Carpatho-Russian people of south-east Poland, known as ‘Lemkos’. It is a tribute to their suffering under the cruel Catholic Austro-Hungarian Empire, then under Fascist Poland that in turn was swept away by Nazi Germany and Soviet Communism. It therefore has a universal significance for all real Orthodox, because we all face the same devilish, this-worldly tribulations to survive anywhere, especially those of us who have been called to live in the Western world.
As the gifted author, who writes from the heart, says: ‘The Latin literacy of the West gave birth to a church rich in learning, piety and art. However, our mostly illiterate Eastern Orthodox ancestors painted, sang and acted out the Gospel, weaving it through a rich, liturgical cycle, wrapping it in a vibrant folk culture and celebrating it in their amazing churches. Our faith more than anything else is the mark of our people’.
These words are true not only for the Carpatho-Russian Lemkos, but for all of us who are destined to be Orthodox of all nationalities the world over. Put away your dusty monographs and heavy tomes! Come down from your ivory towers! Taste of the sweetness of Orthodox Christian LIFE! All 220 million Orthodox Christians of every race and clime the world over, hearken to the words of the Most Holy Mother of God on Sycamore Hill, words of revelation to us all this very day:
‘Our compassion embraces you. Here I will make a home among you. Here I will be one of you and you shall be mine. Ahead lay rivers of tears and valleys of pain. You shall tread the edge of the abyss of despair, but here a spring shall flow, to nurture your return to the love and beauty that is your heritage and destiny’.