THE „ANSWER” OF METROPOLITAN VARLAAM FOR THE DEFENSE OF THE RIGHT FAITH

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Rev. Drd. Marinel Forest

                                                               Faculty of Theology, University,, Ovidius,, – Constanța

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abstract.

The party through this world of the hierarchs of our ancestral Church, who left their exemplary deeds under the feather of the chroniclers and in the charters of the time, have preoccupied over time many historians who have written whole tomes about their wonderful deeds, but also theological students, clergy and ordinary people who wanted to investigate their past. Some of the hierarchs have received more attention, others have been stepped up by bad times and others have not yet been written enough.

Cazania,  considered by some  „the mother  of  the Romanian language „, „immortal  opera” „butthe  Romanian  language  and the heavenly odor ”  or  „Luminous  abecedary of the  Gospel”,  placed  at the heart of believers  in  the beautiful  Romanianlanguage,   light  and  expensive teachings.  About  Cazanie,Nicolae  Iorga  says  that  „she  was  received  with  great  understanding  and  kept  with  love  in  all the Romanian Lands „.

                                                                                                 Keywords:  Parent, Understanding, Confessor, Light, Teaching

Introduction.

Metropolitan Varlaam, the most enlightened bishop of the Church of Christ, was the Metropolitan of Moldavia between(1632-1653),beinglikened, rightly, to a pen that wrote words giving wisdom, the spiritual father  and  founder of the language remainsomane  and  of  the chief works  of the Romanian nation.

One of the most important activities he hasundertaken  during    the shepherding of  Sale is that of moving towards strengtheningand defending the right faith. Varlaam was one of the most important founders of the written Romanian language, but also the first hierarch who fought for the unity of the Romanian countries. After his power he was constantly caring for the salvation and union of all Romanians, by confessing the same faith in Jesus Christ and preserving the ancestral root.

Metropolitan Varlaam is called the „pillar of Orthodoxy” precisely because he led the Orthodox people on the path of salvation in a troubled period, in which the Ottomans ruled us andare  being  pressured by clever prosely  from    Catholicism. The Roman Catholic Church was conducting, from Egypt to the Baltic Sea, an aggressivelyunited propaganda,  especially  after the Brest-Litovsk attack in 1596, when the Heresuits drew to the union the Orthodox Ruthenians subject to the Polish Crown – and Calvinism – when the pressures on the Transylvanian Orthodox for conversion to Calvinism reached maximum levels.

  1. The fight against the current that changes orthodox dogmas

During his pastorate, the spread of Calvinism began in Transylvania – the current that changed the dogmas of the Orthodox faith and did not confess the seven Holy Mysteries. As a result, Metropolitan Varlaam wrote, understandably to all Romanians, the Orthodox teaching book „Seven Mysteries of the Church”, wishing, in this way, that the whole people to know the seven Mysteries left by Christ to His Church. Varlaam was a good connoisseur of the fact that if Romanians depart from the right faith and from good deeds, if the role and holiness of the Church are not defended, if the people do not repent, then it will lead to the division of the nation and the loss of salvation.

During a trip with peace messages of Metropolitan Varlaam to Wallachia – made in 1642 and whose purpose was the reconciliation of the two ruling brothers Vasile Lupu and Matei Basarab – he discovered in the house of Udriste Năsturel, the brother-in-law of Matei Basarab, the „Calvinist Catechism”, printed in Prisaca in 1640, „full of poison of soul death”,  which led him to defend the Orthodox faith with even greater zeal. Thus, on his return to Moldova, he drafted, „The Answer against the Calvinist Catihismus”, the book of defense of Orthodoxy and the work showing that Varlaam was an outstanding theologian of his time. 1

2. The first local synod on Romanian soil

Subsequently, Metropolitan Varlaam reunited in Iasi, in 1645, a Synod of the Sabor a doao tari, Wallachia and Moldavia, with the aim of approving the „Answer against the Calvinist Catihismus” and condemning the Catechism, which he described as „full of poison of soul death”. In this way, Metropolitan Varlaam became the first apologist of the Romanian Orthodox Church and the first hierarch who convened a local synod on Romanian soil, with the participation of the Vlădics from the two Romanian states.

Also during this synod, Metropolitan Varlaam investigated, directed and approved the „Confession of Faith” drafted, in 1638, by Metropolitan Peter Movila of Kiev. The „confession” was meant to provide the clergy and orthodox believers with a guide in their fight against  heretical wanderings . 2

3.Military for the idea of unity of nation and language, with the anticipation of modern thought

The Doctor of Philology, Ștefan Lucian Mureșanu, member of the Association of Biblical Hermeneutical Philology in Romania, noted in his work entitled „The Life and Work of Metropolitan Varlaam”: „Orthodoxy in the Principalities, seeing the danger of reforming the Transylvanian Romanian Church, will give an answer to the Calvinist catechism, published by them in 1640. A practical and energetic spirit, Varlaam will write and print in Targoviste in 1645, also supported by Udrişte Năsturel, the work „Answer against calvinist Catihism”, in order to stave off the propaganda made by Protestants, Lutherans and Calvinists, in the Transylvanian Romanian environment. Like his contemporary, Simeon Stefan, the author expresses the high level of crystallization of the national consciousness of his time, advocating for the idea of unity of nation and language, with arguments that anticipate modern thinking (…) The second reign of Radu Alexandru Iliaş will ascend Varlaam to the   metropolitan seat  at 23. 3

September 1632, on which occasion the learned Greek teacher, Meletios Syrigos, great theologian and preacher, translator of Petru Movilă’s work „The Orthodox Confession”, will utter a word of investiture not knowing, on that day of the end of September that, only a month later, his protector will be defeated in the battle near the Monastery Plumbuita by the one who would become over the Romanian Country,  great gentleman loving culture and art, the tireless strategist and commander of armies, Matei Basarab.Finishing to translate „Cazania”, Varlaam will ask, through a letter carried by the boyar of the lord, Vasile Lupu, Tsar Mihail Feodorovici to help him publish this work for the good of all Orthodox believers. The letter that was to be handed over to the Tsar was particularly important because it mentioned the main source of the writing of this „Book of Teaching” and the date when the translation was finished. The requested help did not come until too late, in 1642, when the book had already begun to be printed by the care of another erudite Romanian, Petru Movilă. At the end of the summer of the same year, the erudite prelate attended the works of the synod opened in Iasi to take a stand against the confession of faith of Cyril Lucaris, former patriarch of Constantinople, accused of Calvinism. The Greeks wanted the Council of Iasi to approve the conviction of Cyril Lucaris and to adopt the procession of Meletios Syrigos (1586 – 1664), but, given that the former patriarch had taken in 1629 the defense of the Romanians in Transylvania, whom Bethlem Gabor wanted to forcibly convert to Calvinism, the Moldovans showed reservations and proposed to discuss rather a work written at that time by Petru Movilă:  The „Orthodox Confession” which appears in Moldavia as the first printed work in the winter of 1642. This remarkable work written in Latin and then translated into Russian, Greek and Romanian became the guide of the Orthodoxy of the Eastern Church. The first Romanian edition appears in 1691, and the last edition in 1942″.

4. The source of the Boiler – the parable of the writing in the language of the people

         Varlaam’s personality can be fully understood only if the aspects related, on the one hand, to historical, cultural, demographic data, specific to the XVI-XVII centuries, the influences of the Ottoman Empire, the merging of Byzantine culture, the beginning of the stories in the language spoken by the people, the defense of Orthodoxy, are fully studied.

There are many defining elements that outline the personality of the chronicler Varlaam, which is why it becomes necessary to bend towards the origins of the homilies of the „Cauldron”, in order to study the influences underlying the first artistic prose in the Romanian language.

It is certainly not accidental that the Cauldron resembles a „too embellished and sweet-smelling flower brought from heaven”, especially if one tries to identify the springs used in its drafting. The sources of literature formed by the homilies of the XVI century are Byzantine, translated from Slavonic or even Greek, the latter being considered superior, the language in which orthodox culture and teaching are preserved. Thus, the defense of Orthodoxy was one of the most important pillars of the fight against the Turks, thus uniting the Romans  with  the Greeks  and  the Slavs. 4

The identification of the springs of the three Cauldrons (That of Varlaam, the one from Govora and the one from Dealu) can be simplified when discovering the springs of a single Cauldron, considering itself once the origin of one of them has been brought to light, by deduction it can be appreciated for the other (except for the homily for the 40 martyrs,  which does not exist in Varlaam’s Cazania), taking into account the indisputable and deeply documented realities, according to which the friendship between the scholars Varlaam and Udriste Năsturel was also demonstrated by the transmission from Iasi by Varlaam to his friend of a copy of the manuscript of his Cauldron.

There are few studies published with reference to this representative book that admit that the sources have been identified and that the style of the scholar Varlaam can be characterized, the same consideration being made with regard to the content. 5

The synaxis of Maximos Marguinos, the work that appeared  repeatedly in Venice,  are  indicated  in  the treatise „The History of  RomanianLiterature”,  without any basis,  as being the source of expressions  referring to the  lives of the Saints. In  his recent  work „The History of RomanianLiterature”, prof. G.   Ivașcu supports  the hypothesis that  Calist’s Calist,  translated by Varlaam  in  1637, is originally  in  origin. 6

In the preface of the Cauldron, Varlaam tells us  that  „he gathered from  all  the țilcovnicii of the gospel sequence,  the teachers of our church”, which shows that even for the same sermon7,  several sources were used by the scholar, all Orthodox, first of all Byzantine, written in Neo-Greek, the language used by the writers precisely to culturalize the people in their own spoken language,  to cultivate his patriotism and to revolt him against the Ottoman yoke. 8

The struggle of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, through which Orthodoxy unites the Greeks, Romanians and Slavs, was maintained against catholicism, the Reformed-Calvinist current, heresies and rationalists.

An event that took place in the second half of the eleventh century, characterized by the action of Pope Climent VIII for the union of the Ruthenians with Catholicism, as a result of which the pope said: „O, my Rutheni, per vos ego orientem conoertandum spero!” – „O my Ruthenians, I hope that through you I will bring the whole East to the church of Rome” has determined an even closer collaboration between the scribes and leaders of the Eastern Slavs with the Greeks and with the Patriarchate of Constantinople,  and Russia took on the role of a protective power of the peoples subject to the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, the humanist-Renaissance works written by the Greeks were translated into Slavonic, and the wealthy Greeks financed the famous Flanghinian Institute where young Greeks studied and the place where most Neo-Greek works were printed. 9

The same tendency of cultural development was impregnated in the Romanian Principalities, where the works of culturalization and defense of Orthodoxy are translated into the Romanian language of Slavonic or even Neo-Greek. At the school of Zosim’s Hermitage, in Secu – which became a monastery in 1602, founded by the ruler Nestor Ureche, Varlaam studied Greek books, knowing so well the Greek language that she is the only personality in the history of Romanian culture who was proposed to be elected ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, on July 1, 1639. 10

Varlaam was in close collaboration with Petru Movila, he owned the secrets of diplomacy and he was a great scholar, known in the Slavic world of Kiev, Moscow and Lviv. However, all his works are based both on the ideology of the humanist-Renaissance current in the Neo-Gothic culture, that of the college led by Petru Movila, Chievian, but also on the works written by Maximos Marguinos, Ioanichie Cartanos and, in particular, Damascene the Suditul. 11

These are the authors about whom Varlaam stated, in the preface of the Cauldron, „other peoples, through those men bearing the holy spirit, descend the holy Scripture more and more pre-meaning of men and put out books of church teaching pre-their language so that they understand hiecine to learn … the older our Romanian language that has no book pre his language with the need to understand the book in another language”. 12

To be read and understood by everyone, the Bible must be written in the language of Romanian. For orthodox teachings to be understood by all those who come to church, the language of the Romanian, the language of the people, must be introduced into the church and culture. This was the parable varlaam learned from writers whose works he turned into his sources. It can be said that the success of the introduction of the Romanian language in the church and in the culture is also due to the authors of the humanisto-renaissance current in the Neo-Christian culture. 13

Despite attempts to attribute elements of the Baroque current to Varlaam’s work, although he lived in the Baroque century, the scholar’s conception is by no way part of this current. She is deeply Orthodox, promotes the hesychastic conception in the form of John’s „The Ladder”

Climax, the hermit on Mount Sinai, which he translated while he was a foresight of the Secu monastery, in 1618. 14

Professor T. Bodogae, Gr. Scorpan and Laszlo Galdi refer to certain passages of the Cauldron as being part of the Baroque current. However, the homilies of Varlaam’s Cauldron, especially the four royal feasts and the lives of the saints, include the dramatic element coming not from baroque, but from the Neo-Greek original of Damascene suditul, the most famous Neo-Gothic author of the XVI-XVIII centuries and one of the best students of the rector Theophanes Eleavulkos, secretary of the ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople. 15

Varlaam’s work includes both aprocrife and folkloric elements – in the talks about the greeting of the Lord, the resurrection of Lazarus, the entrance to Jerusalem and the assumption of the Mother of God – but also historical elements – hagiographic utterances, with reference to the holy fathers of Nicaea, etc. In this way, Varlaam created, practically, the first pages of artistic prose written in the language of the people, the Moldovan language, understood by all those who read or listen to it, bringing closer the Orthodoxy and the Romanian culture.

The embrace of Orthodoxy by the Romanian people, in times influenced by the Ottoman yoke, by Russia’s attempt to turn into a super protective power of the peoples subjugated to the Turks, by the union of the Catholic Church with the Ruthenians and the attempts of Islamism to stretch as much as possible, would not have been possible without the diplomacy of the chronicler Varlaam, without his wisdom to transform the Orthodox teachings into written and read utterances in the language of the people,  Romanian language. Varlaam’s „cauldron”, with its neo-Greek sources, with the influence of Damascene Suditul’s work, truly represents a „flower too embellished and sweet smelling brought from heaven”.

Conclusions.

 

„The answer against the Calvinist Catihismus” represented for Metropolitan Varlaam „a great duty to answer and to show their evil meaning, which understand evil and crooked the scriptures”. The work is structured on the systematic resumption of questions and answers from the Calvinist Catechism and the provision of correct answers, argued with the help of biblical quotations.

Some of the most important aspects of the „Answer” concern the cult of icons, of the Mother of God, of the cross, of the saints – elements that Calvinists reject. Varlaam rejects Calvinist theories through irony, reduction to absurdity, rhetorical interrogation, which demonstrates the Metropolitan’s ability to downplay and even subject to public derision the opinion of the opponents of Orthodoxy. Thus, „The Answer against the Calvinist Catihismus” becomes the first writing in the Romanian language of confessional polemic.

Note

 Archimandrite Ioanichie Bălan, „The Romanian Pateric”, Sihăstria Monastery Publishing House, pp. 208-209

  1. Pr Stefan Sfarghie, „Saint Ierarh Varlaam, founder of the Romanian language”, 2017, online at the https://ziarullumina.ro/actualitate-religioasa/documentar/sfantul-ierarh-varlaam-ctitor-al-limbii-romane-125706 .html, accessed, on 21.11.2021, time 12.30.
  2. Ştefan Lucian Mureșan, „The life and work of Metropolitan Varlaam” 2007, at https://www.poezie.ro/index.php/essay/237563/Via%C8%9Ba_%C8%99i_opera_Mitropolitului_Varlaam
  3. Cleobule Tsurkas, „ The beginnings of philosophical teaching and free thought in the -Balkans. La vie et l’oeuvre de Theophile Corydalee (1570-1646)”, ed II, Thessalonica, 1967, p. 121-122
  4. Al. Rosetti, B. Cazacu, „History of the Romanian Literary Language”, 1961, pp. 94-96
  5. G. Ivascu, „History of the Romanian language”, Bucharest, 1969, p. 141
  6. Varlaam, „Cazania”, Iaşi, 1643, ed. J. Byck, Bucharest, 1943, pp. 5
  7. Cleoboule, „Tsourkas”, op. cit., p. 22
  8. S.I. Maslov, Kulturno-nacionale vidrodzenija na Ukrajni v kinci XVI-iv perji polovini XVII storolia, in „Materiali do vicennja histories ukrajnskkoj literaturi”, I.Kiev, 1950, p.200-201
  9. C. Th. Dimaras, „History of Neo-Greek Literature”, Bucharest, 1968, p. 123
  10. Dem. Russo, „Greco-Romanian Historical Studies”, I, Bucharest, 1939, p. 229
  11. P. Olteneanu, Sources, „Byzantine-Slavic origins and models in the works of Metropolitan Varlaam”, in B.O.R., 1970, no. 1-2, pp. 113-151.
  12. Varlaam, „Cazania”, Iaşi, 1643, ed. J. Byck, Bucharest, 1943, pp. 5
  13. Varlaam, „Leastvita”, Secul, 1618, Ms. 6024, Library of the Romanian Academy
  14. P. Olteanu, „One of the neo-Orthodox springs of the Cauldron” of Metropolitan Varlaam (1643)”: „Treasure of Damascus Suditul” , pp. 163-171 – http://macedonia.kroraina.com/rs/ rs18_16.pdf on 7.11.2021, 12.55

Bibliography

  1. Archimandrite Ioanichie Bălan, “The Romanian Pateric”, Sihăstria Monastery Publishing House
  2. Pr Stefan Sfarghie, “The Holy Hierarch Varlaam, founder of the Romanian language”, 2017
  3. Stefan Lucian Muresanu, “The Life and Work of Metropolitan Varlaam”, 2007
  4. G. Ivascu, “The history of the romanian language”, Bucharest, 1969, p. 141
  5. Varlaam, “Cazania”, Iaşi, 1643, ed. J. Byck, Bucharest, 1943, pp. 5
  6. Cleoboule, Tsourkas, op. cit., pp. 22 u.
  7. L. Maslov, Kulturno-nacionale vidrodzenija na Ukrajni v kinci XVI-iv perji polovini XVII storolia, in „Materiali do vicennja histories ukrajnskkoj literaturi”, I.Kiev, 1950, p.200-201
  8. C. Th. Dimaras, “The history of neo-Greek literature”, Bucharest, 1968, p. 123 u
  9. Dem. Russo, “Greco-Romanian historical studies”, I, Bucharest, 1939, pp. 229
  10. P.Olteanu, Source, “Byzantine-Slavic origins and patterns in the works of Metropolitan Varlaam”, in B.O.R., 1970, number. 1-2, pp. 113-151.
  11. Varlaam, “Leastvita”, Secul, 1618, Ms. 6024, Bibl. Acad. Române
  12. P. Olteanu, “One of the neo-Greek springs of the Cauldron of Metropolitan Varlaam (1643)”: “The Treasure” of Damascus Suditul ”, pp. 163-171 – accessed at http://macedonia.kroraina. com / rs / rs18_16.pdf, on 7.11.2021
  13. Pr Stefan Sfarghie, “The Holy Hierarch Varlaam, founder of the Romanian language”, 2017, accessed online at https://ziarullumina.ro/actualitate-religioasa/documentar/sfantul-ierarh-varlaam-ctitor-al-limbii- romane-125706.html on 21.11.2021
  14. Stefan Lucian Muresanu, “The Life and Work of Metropolitan Varlaam”, 2007, accessed at https://www.poezie.ro/index.php/essay/237563/Via%C8%9Ba_%C8%99i_opera_Mitropolitului_Varlaam,on 21.11 .2021
  15. Cleobule Tsurkas The beginnings of philosophical teaching and free thought in the -Balkans. La vie et l’oeuvre de Theophile Corydalee (1570-1646), ed II, Thessalonica, 1967, p. 121-122
  16. Al. Rosetti, B. Cazacu, “The history of the Romanian literary language”, 1961, pp. 94-96
  17. S.I. Maslov, Kulturno-nacionale vidrodzenija na Ukrajni v kinci XVI-iv perji polovini XVII storolia, in „Materiali do vicennja histories ukrajnskkoj literaturi”, I.Kiev, 1950, p.200-201
  18. Iorga Nicolae, „The history of the Romanian Church and the religious life of Romanians”, Vol. I, „Romanias typography”, Vălenii de Munte 1908, pp. 55-23
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