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Sermon by Mother Superior Ivana Barisnava

Do you know what you are? Do you know what any of us are, those with two feet and two eyes and two hands and two ears who walk upon our Great Mother Earth?

We are insects.

We were the pilfering insects who crawled over fetid corpses to strip the rot from the bones. We defiled ourselves in the eyes of our Great Mother Earth, we showed how unworthy we were of her love and compassion! We butchered each other like animals, for food. Like the mad blind man in his final day, we stumbled around clawing at one another and turning the ground fallow with our sin. We lusted, producing more insects full of sin, full of rage and madness who would repeat their father’s mistakes!

Yet our Great Mother Earth, with her endless compassion, gave us her divine child Elikommet! Elikommet, the Great Raven and the Watchful Crow, Son and Messenger, the divine Patron of us insects through the gift of his very Flesh. He, who was so kind to even take one of us insects as his wife, guided us from the dark and into the love of our Mother.

How have we repaid his gift to us? How have we repaid our Great Mother?

We’ve watched our brothers and sisters turn away from Elikommet’s words, they’ve turned their hearts to stone and now violate their Holy Flesh! They’ve given in to gluttony and lust, and turned their knives away from butchery and back to each other! Gold, instead of red, runs through their blood. What they have become are not criminals, but insects! Insects who crawl over the carcass! When their time comes, they shall be Judged, and they shall be flayed and picked apart by Elikommet, their remains cast out, and never shall they know the Peaceful Land that the Great Mother created, never will they return to her Womb to be reborn. They will only know the endless pain of being exposed and left to bleed forever!

But do not think that you are free from the Watchful Eye of Elikommet! Do not mistake my words for gloating!

Each and everyone one of us have inherited the sin of our forefathers, those insects! Each and every one of us are weak and prone to slipping away unless we hold hands and stay fast against sin, and cast out those of us who turn away from Elikommet and our Great Mother Earth. Whose doubt and weak faith may spread like a disease and infect the whole hive! No sin must be tolerated, not the lusting for your neighbor’s wife nor the violent love of coins. Bury the adulterer and burn the lover of coins. The child who speaks ill towards his parents must have his tongue sliced, the child who steals a crumb of bread must have her fingers smashed. It is only by Elikommet’s Love and Pity that we do not return to the horrors of Creation.

We must remember that we are weak as mere individuals but so long as we guard one another from sin we may still stand in the Love of Elikommet and our Mother in this heretical world.

Critical Thinking Questions:
Mother Superior Ivana Barisnava (455-610) was the leader of a congregation in the Northern Territories that had established itself after being expelled from Yunipik due to Ivana’s fiery preaching and at the time suspected involvement in a conspiracy to murder a fellow nun. Ivana’s manuscripts for her sermons are the few left from the Anatoly Movement (c. 400-620), and give historians and theologians a much better view of what people in the Anatoly Movement believed outside of often biased second hand sources.

  1. Compare the ‘Insects’ sermon to the ‘Cradled Infant’ sermon on page 442. What sort of differences do you see in tone and style? What are the sermons trying to emphasize?
  2. Barisnava stressed humanity’s nature as ‘insects’, where do you think she came up with this idea?
  3. What rhetorical devices did Barisnava use in her sermon? Tip: Go back to pages 10 through 30 if you need help!
  4. Why do you think Barisnava mentions violent punishment at the end of her sermon?
  5. If you could meet Barisnava today, what three questions would you ask her?
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