On Art, Poetry, and Faith on the Day of Orthodox Easter featuring Virginia Mateias and Vasile Trif

For Orthodox Christians, theological foundations rooted in the earliest Christian community set the tone for beliefs which take expression in liturgical practice, which directly confronts the experience of the dying and bereaved. The liturgical practices in Orthodoxy, speak to the holistic nature of our experience of death—engaging through ritual, body, mind, and soul, and activating all our senses.

John T. Chirban, Greek Orthodox Understandings of Death: Implications for Living the Easter Faith, (Routledge, 2002), abstract

The Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar, not the Gregorian calendar, to calculate when Easter is. The Julian calendar was officially implemented by Julius Caesar and was in use primarily between 45 BC and 1582 AD. Though much of the world now uses the Gregorian calendar, which replaced the Julian calendar, in the Orthodox Church the custom has remained to use it to calculate the date of Easter. 


Good morning/good afternoon everyone. To those of you who celebrate the Orthodox Easter: He is Risen. Christos Anesti.

To those of you who do not celebrate Literary Revelations wishes you a thousand years of love. We welcome submissions from all over the world and from people of all faiths.

On this day we are thrilled to feature a short interview conducted by Virginia Mateias with Vasilie Trif, as well as, art and poetry.

Short bios:

Virginia Mateias is the result of two cultures and draws her creative inspiration from her European roots and her North American perspective. Virginia has published three volumes of poetry to date. She is an internationally published author, and an award winning author. Her literary work appeared in various magazines and anthologies. Virginia loves nature, travel and all the little things that give life beauty and meaning.

Vasile Trif is a priest at the Saint-Eustache parish in Canada. He is both a poet and a plastic artist. Born in Transylvania, into an art-loving family, Vasile Trif made his debut with the volume The Prodigal Son, published by Risoprint. A graduate of the Theology and Philosophy Faculties of Cluj-Napoca, Vasile emigrated to Montreal in 2006. He was initiated into linocut and collography techniques at the Valuard Ancient Arts Atelier. In his artistic approach, Vasile Trif tries to make “the Invisible visible through word, line and color.”

Featured art: Vasile Trif.


Virginia Mateias: Art, just like religion, befits a human superior need. There was a time when art used to serve religion. The architecture of ancient times, Greek sculpture during Pericles’ time, West-European Renaissance painting, religious dances, music and poetry in the Judaic cult, are all the fruits of the human thirst for the absolute. You are both a priest and an artist. You write poetry, paint, and study engraving. What role does faith play in your painting and poetry?

Vasile Trif: When I was a child, eager to know my village and its surroundings, curiosity often drove me to the graveyard. I was fascinated by the wooden crosses, and I tried to decipher the epitaphs. Many of them were reduced to only the vertical pole, stuck in the ground, while the horizontal arm had either fallen down or was totally rotten. I was aware of a strange, deep feeling. For us, children, that was another world, a mysterious world of penetrating silence. It is this axis of vertical communication that endures after we are no more, the other one, of horizontal communication, is left behind. In other words, we are that something that aspires upward; our tellurian being remains frozen in gravity and decay. The human being is not only a colony of shifting cells, as a scholar said. We are so much more complex, much more than just a system that has been programmed to stop at a given time, like a pendulum. I think that Art is a part of this vertical communication, meaningfully revealing the Primordial Sense.

Poetry is a mystic way to our inner selves, to the others, and to God. The person who dares to expose themselves to the risk of creation finally emerges as a new, changed person. Trying to change the world is a gigantic attempt, but we can change ourselves and, paradoxically, our endeavor touches the depths of others. Any act of creation becomes the water into which the readers dive and heal themselves. Our creative way of expression leads to a change deep inside the others.

A 20th century thaumaturge entered an artist workshop and saw a vase sitting upside-down on a table. Feeling annoyed, he took it and put it in the natural position, explaining that this was the correct way: open to the outer life so that it could gather its energy. The human being is a vase who is responsible of their content and has the privilege to choose this content. I think an artist is endowed by God with this sensitivity that allows them to receive and reveal the Sense.

For me, Poetry is one of the states inhabited by God. He makes Himself known through it and, sometimes, He surprises me by inviting me in.

Virginia Mateias: 33% of the world population is Christian today. What is the meaning of Easter and how do you prepare yourself for this celebration?

Vasile Trif: The contemporary human being has to face the absurd, cruel reality of death and if they lack faith, they are overcome by this destiny. The only way out is to give it a transcendental sense. Flemish painters used to paint some still life symbols on the backside of the portraits of young people: an hourglass, a flower, a skull. There is a binal relationship between appearance and reality: we can see youth and beauty but on the other side there is the mark of the ephemeral truth. Time marks people, things, nature, it grinds them and crushes them in a few seconds. The flower in the vase lingers away. ‘What’s our life? Truly flower, and haze, and morning dew.’ The Christian orthodox funeral ritual intones so poetically.

At one point in art history, the still life takes centre stage, no more on the backside. It discloses its woeful message of our own passing. The backsides of these paintings is bare: an empty grave, after Resurrection, hope giving. Here we are, in a state of grace, ready to create another binal structure: death (passing) – Resurrection.

And still, our life in its wholeness is flower, and haze, and morning dew…

The joy of life is present at the aesthetic level in a flawless creation which brings so much bliss when you watch it. Our own life should be understood as joy, blooming and touching others.

On the other hand, the joy of life reveals itself at a mystical level, the level of initiatory knowledge. The haze always hide something. It hides the true reality which is beyond it, which surprises us, which we have been longing for: the eternal life.

Then we have that joy of walking barefoot through the morning dew towards the morning of our own Resurrection.

 To be prepared for the Resurrection celebration means to be in a permanent state of internal and external equilibrium, to consciously aim to reach this state. The human being is a receptacle that ceaselessly collects rational and emotional information. It is important to filter this information lest we might get burdened in our joy of creation. By meditating and praying we communicate on the vertical axis with He who gives a sense to our search. It is true that, many times, distraction, weakness, fear and doubt become our partners. It is essential that they shouldn’t become permanent parts of our being. Christ felt them on the cross.

Every day we follow

the path of Light towards the dark womb
of the earth and we can choose to join It, to spring with It
overthrowing death.

How many times we willingly die every day emotionally, rationally? We can also rouse from death. We have the ability to live every day as a Resurrection day, a celebration of life. We can do this by meditating and praying.

Opening their arms during prayer turns human beings into receptacles asking for their own content. This is the state of the priest when he calls forth the Holy Spirit. When we declaim The Lord’s Prayer we call the Holy Spirit to organizes our life and gives life to amorphous matter. (‘And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.’ – Genesis 1,2) When we talk to Him, He hovers over the waters of our minds, permeting them with divine energy.

The equation of our life contains not only terms like beauty, youth, joy, but also ephemerality, loss, pain. The One who solves the ontological equation of His own creation is his own Creator. Christ restores it, opens it to Resurrection. Death becomes just a passage.


Jesus of Nazareth by Virginia Mateis

The millennia is split because of His blood
Before and After
After the worm’s pit in the ground.
The pain that keeps you warm
The innocence sentenced to death
All crucified…
The Way, the Truth, and the Life.
A word, a light
A faith, a crusade
A weakness, a path to knowledge
An understanding, a burning
A burning, a rebirth…
Waters carry the memory of the first Adam
Earth moans in nostalgia for its lost innocence 
The desire of eternal spring
The fear of the worm’s dominion
The hunger for His Blood  

Today is Sunday by Vasile Trif

Rungs organize themselves
in a spiral just like 
Jacob’s ladder, endless
as evening fell
as morning dawned
it happened so often 
that on a Sunday I woke up
holding a living book

it occurred to me
that I could make some changes
for example, to connect the dots
as close to the center as possible

to unite in pairs unfulfilled and lonely words
to take back my harsh words
to incinerate them
and grind up their bones
So they wouldn’t tread miserably and barefoot on anyone’s soul

to visit those I didn’t say goodbye to
it’s true that I still think of them
and welcome them to evening prayer
and in the morning I see myself  enjoying a good cup of coffee with them

but suddenly
an angel leaning on his wing
informed me that it is not written in the language of men
that I cannot change anything
since today is Sunday
and every shop it is closed

I consoled myself with this
perhaps, at least these last thoughts
God finds them
and will throw them as seeds of grass 
into her round white hollows

Enjoy this 2016 beautiful Easter celebration in Santorini, Greece.


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Published by Literary Revelations Publishing House

An independent press dedicated to showcasing the best literary work. We publish poetry, short stories, art, interviews and novels.

11 thoughts on “On Art, Poetry, and Faith on the Day of Orthodox Easter featuring Virginia Mateias and Vasile Trif

  1. A great interview and the poetry was beautiful. It was interesting to compare the slight differences that are actually very thought-provoking to a strong person of faith. I especially related to and appreciated Vasile Trif’s comment, “It is important to filter this information lest we might get burdened in our joy of creation. By meditating and praying we communicate on the vertical axis with He who gives a sense to our search. It is true that, many times, distraction, weakness, fear and doubt become our partners. It is essential that they shouldn’t become permanent parts of our being. Christ felt them on the cross.” What a great reminder to those of us who sometimes sink into that space. Thank you Virginia and Father Trif and Gabriela for sharing this post with your readers. Blessings, Joni

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