25 December 2014

Introducing "Coffee With Sister Vassa": Christmas Programs

 A few months ago a friend introduced me to the ROCOR* ryassophore** nun, Sister Vassa Larin and her weekly "coffee break"! The program (Coffee with Sister Vassa) has been a delight --- not only because of Sister's education (She has a PhD in Orthodox Theology -- specialties in historical and/or liturgical theology -- and is a Professor of Liturgical Studies at the Catholic Faculty of the University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria) but because Sister Vassa's sense of humor is wonderful --- and more than a tad understated. (Personally I suspect the ROCOR has a bit of a tiger by the tail with Sister Vassa; her more academic comments on Tradition and the way contemporary perspectives and needs (history) and revealed content (mystery) are interrelated and stand in tension with one another might tend to shake some up!)

But back to the real topic, her "Coffee With Sister Vassa" programs.  Each 10 minute program provides a wealth of information (all bite-sized and accessible to everyone) and finishes with a significant piece of spiritual wisdom.This tends to be sandwiched between stories about her "crew" which skate seamlessly between fact and fantasy recounted with Sister's trademark straight-faced expression; thus Sister Vassa invites us into a new world, a world where we suspend disbelief and simply delight in a bit of profoundly serious stuff seasoned with a pinch of the ridiculous. If you have very little time and can't watch "Coffee With Sister Vassa" look for her briefer "Coffee Break" programs. I hope you will check out more of Sister Vassa's videos on You Tube and become one of the "special group" of regular listeners Sister Vassa calls "Zillions". (For a brief introduction to Sister Vassa's sense of humor, etc, please check out the following video on St Basil the Great.)

* ROCOR stands for Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
** Ryassophore stands for "robe-bearer" and is the stage of monastic life following novitiate. As I understand it, a ryassophore nun has not yet made vows as would have already been done in the Roman Catholic Church where temporary vows follow novitiate and initiate into the juniorate,  but is tonsured and obligated to the same values nonetheless. She is a not a novice monastic. The next stage is stavrophore or "cross-bearer" and follows after some years as a ryassophore.