Tag Archives: Cathedral

The Cunning Craftsman

In her play, “The Zeal of Thy House,” Dorothy Sayers imagines a stonemason working on an intricate carving for the chancel of Canterbury Cathedral. He then drops his carving tool and ruins the stone. This devastates him because the valuable and custom-cut stone is ruined. The designer, however, takes the tool out of the stonemason’s hand and begins restoration. He brings forth out of the spoiled stone a new and different figure which has its own part to play in the Cathedral, and then permits the blundering mason to complete it in all its glory. “So works with us,” concludes Dorothy Sayers, “the cunning craftsman, God.”

stone masonAs I tell this story, I cannot shake the phrase from my mind: “The cunning craftsman, God.” In this situation, the word cunning does not mean some kind of craftiness or deceit. The word is taken in its purer sense indicating skill, wisdom and ability. The phrase then really means that the Master artist God can take our awkward efforts and make something useful out of them. He takes our mismanaged lives, our failed efforts, our missed marks, our shameful deeds, our alien attitudes, our sinful lives and with His divine resourcefulness He saves the day. He creates something new, worthy and wonderful that still has usefulness and beauty in the divine plan of things. We desperately need this type of assurance.

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Basil of Russia

Saint Basil's Cathedral

Saint Basil’s Cathedral (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He was born to serfs in December of 1468 or 1469 in Yelokhovo, near Moscow (now in Moscow). It’s believed, he was born on the portico of the local church where his mother prayed for easy birth. He is thought to have died in 1552 or 1557

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St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow is named after the saint. Originally an apprentice shoemaker in Moscow, he adopted an eccentric lifestyle of shoplifting and giving to the poor to shame the miserly and help those in need. He is thought to have had the gift of clairvoyance. Once a man came to the shoemaker asking for good boots that would last him for years. Basil laughed and said the man did not need the boots as he would die tomorrow, and it happened just as Basil said.
 
He went naked and weighed himself down with chains. He rebuked Ivan the Terrible for not paying attention in church, and especially for his violent behavior towards the innocent.
 
When he died on August 2, 1552 or 1557, St. Macarius, Metropolitan of Moscow, served his funeral with many clergy. Ivan the Terrible himself acted as pallbearer and carried his coffin to the cemetery. He is buried in St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, which was commissioned by Ivan IV to commemorate the capture of the Khanate of Kazan. The cathedral is also known as “The Cathedral of Intercession of the Virgin on the Moa”. In 1588 Tsar Fedor Ivanovich had a chapel added on the eastern side above the grave of Basil Fool for Christ.

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Filed under Basil of Russia, Christian Living, Commitment, Dedication