Category Archives: Christianity

Tree of Life – Update

This is the art project I was working on before Windows decided to “improve” my drawing machine with an update.  Here’s where I’d got up to:

Tree of Life new

Dead For 14 Minutes

Excerpts from interview:

Priest George Maximov: Hello! You are watching My Path To God. I’ll tell you right away that the guest of today’s program experienced very dramatic events in his life that led him to God. Non-religious people often say that nobody ever returned from the other world. They imply that nobody knows what awaits us after death. However, the story of our guest disproves this statement…

Vasily Lazarev: At first, I didn’t realize that I was dead. The realization came later. The pulling became faster and faster. At an increasing speed, I flew through a tunnel with semi-transparent walls. There were pictures around me that could be compared to photographs of stars taken by the Hubble telescope. A bright light was ahead. It was extremely bright. This was similar to the aqua park attraction when you spiral down into the pool of warm water. I heard a chord of some kind of ethereal music. That was when I looked at myself. Only then did I realize that I was dead. I didn’t feel any regret. Instead, I felt joy, calmness and delight. I looked at myself and saw my body lying in the ambulance. Somehow, I didn’t care about it… absolutely. I didn’t feel any contempt or hatred toward it, I simply looked at it…

Father George: As if it was something foreign to you?

Vasily Lazarev: Yes. Just like a stone that is lying on a street when you’re passing it by. You don’t care if it is there or not. Then something pulled me up, you know, as if a warm hand lifted me up. I felt the waves of happiness and absolute calmness. Absolute protection. Everything around me was full of such a strong love that I don’t even know how to describe it. I was pulled through some kind of clouds. It felt as if I was on an ascending airplane that went higher and higher. Then I saw a figure in a shining light. It was dressed in long clothes like a tunic. You know, I never even opened the Bible before that and never had any thoughts about God or Christ, but at that time I understood with every fiber of my soul that it was Him. He was like a true father. He met me, his prodigal son, with love that you can’t find on Earth. Nobody ever talked to me like that. He did not reproach, assure or scold me. He just showed my life to me. We communicated telepathically and every word of His sounded like a law. There were not any doubts about it. He spoke quietly and affectionately, and it became clearer and clearer to me that my attitude not only toward myself, but also toward my relatives and everybody else was very wrong. I wept loudly and as my heart was breaking and purifying, I gradually felt better…

Anyway, He could stop the life at any point. It was like some kind of movie. But the most interesting thing was that at any point I could walk in and look at myself and feel the situation from the point of view of everybody around me.

Father George: And understand what they thought about it?

Vasily Lazarev: Yes. I understood how you could hurt people by words. It is like… for example, the knife and bullet wounds that I had cannot even be compared to the pain caused by a single word. It is something that you remember for the rest of your life. I understood the consequences of that. I understood how you should be careful in your actions. Many people think that there is only this life and after that there is just some utter darkness and nothingness. No, my friends, everyone will have to answer for the things they did. Everyone…

Of course, even though my experience was wonderful, it could be equally bad for those who would be in hell. I wasn’t in paradise; it was probably some kind of a vestibule to paradise. I don’t know how to explain… That feeling was probably more powerful than all the drugs in the world multiplied by eternity. The explosion of omniscience literally knocked me off my feet. The truth only brushed by me, but I realized what an endless potential we had in ourselves. Knowing everything… There is no way of explaining it, simply take my word for it: it is great, we won’t be bored there for sure. It was so wonderful, warm and cozy there with Him. I felt that He was the father. The true father. Unlike my earthly fathers… I wasn’t very lucky with my biological father or my stepfather.

To cut a long story short, I was coming back, as if the movie was running backwards. The sun sets down late in May… I remember it was still sunset and I was descending through the leaves of the tree, the roof of the ambulance and back into my body. My conscience kicks back. I take a deep breath, feeling a strong pain in my ribs, and grab the paramedic by the hand…

Now I understand that all of this is related to God. He sets you on the right path. I went to work, and stopped cheating on my wife right away. Then gradually, step by step, I quit smoking and swearing. I asked God to help me in all my endeavors. I simply asked silently and He always helped…

Father George: Still, you did not embrace the Church right away?

Vasily Lazarev: No. It was a long journey. It was as if I had to remove all the unnecessary things first, and then embracing the Church was like fine-tuning to reach perfection. Getting rid of all the above-mentioned addictions [see full interview – link above] was, I think, was just a coarse tuning, and now I have to fine tune. This fine-tuning will continue till my last breath. It is far more important and infinitely more difficult than the first stage. Quitting smoking is much easier than quitting being jealous, and it is easier to quit drinking than to stop hating somebody or to forgive somebody…

I also understood that in a way we have two births. First is when we are born, and the second is when we die. In this life, while we are in this world, we must decide who are we with and what actions do we do. I am very lucky to have another chance. God gave me a new life so that I could understand what love is. You just have to clean up your act in time. As Saint Seraphim of Sarov said, “We must acquire the Holy Spirit”…

I want to attest that the personality is indestructible. I remained conscious all the time. This confirms that we do not die. I say this for atheists, for those who reject Our Lord. Here they hope for something, maybe for the prince of this world to help them; but he won’t protect them over there. Over there they will get what they deserve. It is absolutely true.

You shouldn’t only believe, you should also do good deeds. Think—Why were you were born? Can it be that the most complicated biological organism on the planet was created just to pass time idly? Our life on earth is just a moment, but it is a very important moment, as it is here that we decide if we go to Him or not. There would be no other moment like that and you can’t change anything after you die. Try to avoid doing evil, while you still have time, and ask for forgiveness from people you’ve hurt. And dedicate all your actions to the glory of God.

…Many people told me, “You just had hallucinations under the influence of drugs. Some kind of delirium that occurs when cerebellum does something…

Father George: But the fact that your life changed so drastically is already an evidence that that could not have been mere hallucinations. Drug addicts see hallucinations all the time, but they don’t change their lives. Life can be changed only by a real experience. I think that God showed you in advance the things that could happen, because everything in your past life led you to a different place, that outer darkness. Through His love, God showed what awaits you, so you could make the right choice. Thank God that you made good use of your second chance.

Mary’s Month of May

I recently finished a series of free study videos on the sacraments by the St. Paul Center.  It was great, so when they told me about another free set of instructional videos I signed up immediately.  Here is their blurb on this next set: “The St. Paul Center is offering limited-time access to its video Bible study series, The Bible and the Virgin Mary. Over the course of 12 lessons, beginning on May 1, this study presents the participant an opportunity for growth in knowledge of Scripture and devotion to Our Lady.”  Why don’t you join me?  (Please let me know in the comment section if the link doesn’t work.)

Operation Storm Heaven

An invitation for Catholics:

Here is a link to the website where you can join the Rosary Warriors.

Easter Music

Video by Benedictines of Mary, Pennsylvania.

Palm Sunday

Icon Writing Course

0317patrick-irelandHappy St. Patrick’s Day!
I’m interrupting my blogging break to tell you about a course I’ve just booked onto. It’s an icon writing course run by a charming fellow from Greece. Here’s his website with the relevant details: http://www.theodoreicons.com/icon-painting-workshop-knock-ireland.html

So if you’d like to visit Ireland’s national Marian shrine at Knock, and learn how to write icons, why not kill two birds with one stone?!  The course isn’t until October so you’ve got plenty of time to get organised.  Hey, and an extra bonus – you get to meet me! 😉

Adoro Te Devote

I’m going to be taking a break from blogging for about three months. I hope this will allow me to put more time into my art and preparations for Easter. I hope you all have a wonderful spring, and I look forward to catching up with you all in the summer.

I leave you with a Latin prayer that might give a little insight into why the Church offers exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. I have copied a translation from Wikipedia below.  If you have a more poetic leaning you might prefer the version by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

I devoutly adore you, O hidden Deity,
Truly hidden beneath these appearances.
My whole heart submits to you,
And in contemplating you, It surrenders itself completely.

Sight, touch, taste are all deceived in their judgement of you,
But hearing suffices firmly to believe.
I believe all that the Son of God has spoken;
There is nothing truer than this word of truth.

On the cross only the divinity was hidden,
But here the humanity is also hidden.
Yet believing and confessing both,
I ask for what the repentant thief asked.

I do not see the wounds as Thomas did,
But I confess that you are my God.
Make me believe more and more in you,
Hope in you, and love you.

O memorial of our Lord’s death!
Living bread that gives life to man,
Grant my soul to live on you,
And always to savour your sweetness.

Lord Jesus, Good Pelican,
wash my filthiness and clean me with your blood,
One drop of which can free
the entire world of all its sins.

Jesus, whom now I see hidden,
I ask you to fulfil what I so desire:
That the sight of your face being unveiled
I may have the happiness of seeing your glory. Amen.

[Translation via Wikipedia.]hostonly

Unexpected Discoveries at Knock Museum

I have lived within twenty minutes drive of Knock Museum for more than fifteen years.  I finally went in a few days ago for a class, but I still didn’t get a proper look at the exhibits.  I did make some interesting discoveries though, and I learnt how to make a St. Brigid’s cross.  My first discovery was made in the museum shop.  I saw some products there that looked very much like the kind of thing that I aspire to make, based on the Book of Kells.  The artist has a website where you can view and purchase his work if you want.

The second discovery was through meeting a Spanish lady in the class.  I couldn’t catch her name – Pilar – until she spelled it out for me.  I’m sure she was fed up of explaining its origins but I had to ask.  She told me that it is quite a common name in Spain, where babies are named in honour of Our Lady of the Pillar (Pilar in Spanish).  Below is a photo of a Marian statue on what is reputed to be the pillar in question.  It is obscured in the picture by a blue and white origami mantle (please don’t ask why; I haven’t the foggiest).  The apparition is claimed to be the first Marian apparition and happened when Mary was still alive.  Our Lady is said to have appeared to Saint James when she wished to gather the apostles together for one last time before her assumption into Heaven.
Virgen del Pilar

I thought it might be fun to do a post listing and describing all the Marian apparitions but looking at how many there are on the maps by National Geographic, I changed my mind.  There are nine major Church-approved apparitions, and the one at Knock is among them.  I would have only been able to list five of them before I started my research; how about you?  Have there been any in your area or country?  Knock is the national Marian shrine of Ireland.  You can see it marked quite clearly on the National Geographic map of apparitions in Europe.  So now you know where I live, roughly. 🙂  One day I may find the time to have a proper look around the Museum.

Happy St. Brigid’s Day

firststbcross

This is my first St. Brigid’s Day as a Christian and I’m in Ireland so I couldn’t let the day pass without making a St. Brigid’s cross.  People usually make these out of freshly cut field reeds but I, always having to be different :p, made my first cross at a class today out of something else.  I was so excited at the prospect, and the class was so chaotic, that I didn’t really catch what kind of reeds these were.  What I do know is that the demonstrator cut them herself at the end of last summer and she had to wear chest-high waders to get them.  Good woman!  She might have said ‘bulrushes’ but don’t quote me on that.  She told us that they can last for hundreds of years.  People used to use them to make household items, and she still uses them to make things that she sells for a living.