Dear friends,

I have plenty of things to report to you today, and a few things I would ask you to help me with.

Blog news:

For the next few days, the blog will go into “minimal” mode and barring some kind of major development, I don’t intend to post much.  For Orthodox Christians this week is Passion Week, Sunday will be Holy Paskha (“Easter” in western parlance) and next week Bright Week.  This is *by far* the biggest religious celebration of the year, far outshining all the others and over the next few days I will spend a lot of time in church and making preparations for this event.  God willing, I will resume normal bogging on Tuesday of next week.

In the meantime, please feel free to use this post as an “Open Thread” to chat about whatever you like.

Some blog news: the three new volunteer research assistants I have hired are making very fast progress and next week I hope to begin letting them post Ukraine SITREPs directly on the blog.  Working with them has been great, as they are all very sharp and I am sure that you will appreciate their great work.  They are also very nice and fun people, and I have encouraged them to join into the conversations in comments sections and I am sure that you will get to know and appreciate them as much as I do.

I have asked my webmaster to add a new section to the blog entitled “The Saker Sandbox” which will be like my own little “open thread” where I can post thoughts and rants about all sorts of topics which would have no place in a “proper” blog.  I just feel like sharing more personal stuff with you all in the hope that some of you will reciprocate and we can get to know each other better.  But, buyer beware, this will not be a “serious” section at all, rather just a place to babble and chatter :-)

The Saker blog and community will now have an active presence of Facebook and VKontakte thanks to the efforts of one of my research assistants (I am still personally “allergic” to the social media, but I am delighted that somebody will do that for me!).

I can announce to you that I am working on two *major* projects related to Serbia and Serbian history.  The first one will provide the blog with a regular Serbian “presence” combining SITREPs and historical analyses. the second one will be my participation in a major event this summer and early fall.  I am in contact with some very good Serbian friends who will play a key role in making it all happen.  The main goal of both of these projects it to restore the historical truth about grossly mis-represented events and work towards an Orthodox-Muslim “truth and reconciliation” initiative.  We will begin with Serbia, but we will hopefully soon extend that effort into Russia too.  I know I am being vague, but at this point all I want to share with you is that there is a *lot* of behind the scenes stuff happening and that you can look forward to some very interesting and timely events.

The International Observatory of the Ukrainian Conflict has invited me to participate in a conference which will take place in the Donbass this summer.  Since I do not have the means to travel that far, I will probably participate via a video address.  This seems to be a very interesting project and I will report in much more details about that here in the near future.

Finally, the representative of our community has made it to Moscow and has left for Novorussia (via Rostov).  I have had no news from her yet, but I hope to be able to update you on her progress very soon.

Where I need help:

Community member in need:

First, the lady who has worked on all the transcripts of my podcasts is going through some financial difficulties.  She is retired, lives on a minimal income and has a very hard time making ends meet. She has spent countless hours transcribing my podcasts, as a moderator for the blog, and she now also transcribes other materials such as my Q&A with Sheikh Imran Hosein.

Since I cannot help her myself, I thought I would use this blog to do two things:

1) Ask for collection of funds to help her out in the short: please send me donation and please indicate “for AC” (please remember that, this is very important)

2) Advertise to you all her services: if you can hire her (for real pay, not like me) to do any kind of work which she could do from home over her computer, please email me and I will put you in contact.  I can highly recommend her as an very effective, kind, honest, hard working and dedicated person.

I am sorry to pester you with money issues, but since you have specifically asked me to do so (see the Saker Blog survey) I will do so even if I hate it and feel self-conscious every time: not only do I personally depend on your donations to make ends meet and not sink further into debt, but there are also volunteers who are also in a precarious financial situation, sometimes even much worse than mine (some volunteers are doing very well, this is why I don’t have a “volunteer” fund, something I considered initially: some need help, some don’t need – or want – it at all.  Hence the case by case appeals I make here).  Maybe this is immodest, but I do sincerely believe that our community offers a unique a top quality service to everybody totally free of charge, and I therefore think that it is not unreasonable for me to remind you all that every single person who worked on this and the other blogs of our community has bills to pay every month.  So please help us if you can.  If not – then just say a prayer for us :-)

We need more moderators:

In the survey you have given very high levels of appreciation for the work of the moderators.  They are, indeed, doing a great job.  Alas, there are still too few of them.  If you can spare a few hours a day or even week, but on a regular basis, please email my webmaster at [email protected] (he also moderates and is in contact with the person in charge of the moderator team).

Russian Saker Team and Russian Translation Team crisis:

The person in charge of the Russian Saker Team has suffered a serious health problem and cannot work right now.  In fact, I have only received one single email from that person. To make things worse, this person was also in charge of the Russian Translation Translation Team.  God willing, this person will fully recover, but right now I have three urgent problems:

a) I need to get in touch with the Russian Saker Team
b) I need to get in touch with the Russian Saker Translation Team
c) I need to find new Russian to English translators

If you are a member of the Russian Saker Team, the Russian Saker Translation Team or if you can help us by translating Russian texts into English – please email me ASAP at either [email protected] or [email protected] (or, better, both).

Since I don’t know if I will post anything more before Sunday’s Feast of the Holy Paskha, I want to leave you all with the words of Saint John Chrysostome which are traditionally read during the Paskhal Matins because they convey the spiritual meaning of that day for Orthodox Christians.

The Saker


Sermon of Saint John Chrysostome, Archbishop of Constantinople

Saint John Chrysostome

Saint John Chrysostome

If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived thereof. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

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