Coffee Interview with Sister Vassa29 September 2014
Sister Vassa (Larin) has lived the Orthodox monastic life for twenty-five years. She received her Masters Degree in Orthodox Theology from the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, where she also received her doctorate degree in 2008 under the direction of Robert Taft, S.J. Since January 2009, she teaches Liturgical Studies at the University of Vienna. Sister Vassa also hosts the popular youtube show “Coffee With Sister Vassa,” where she discusses liturgical, ecclesiastical and spiritual topics.
Deacon Andrei Psarev: What does it mean for you as a nun and scholar to communicate with a world wide audience via your YouTube channel?
Sister Vassa: I see this kind of communicaton as my “obedience“ (or “poslushanie“, as we say in Russian) and also my obligation. Because my spiritual father and archbishop, Vladyka Mark of Berlin and Germany, both sent me to receive academic degrees in theology, and later blessed me to take on a teaching position at the University of Vienna. He also blessed me to make these videos, as part of my academic activities. He did not send me to get a doctoral degree just to stimulate my own brain cells or to decorate my CV. I was blessed to receive a theological education to be of service to others; to share this gift with others. Today, in academia it is becoming increasingly popular for professors to offer courses online, as a service to the larger public. However, as an Orthodox Christian in academia, I am not only a member of the academic community, but also a member of the Church. So, just like the rest of us within the one body that is the Church, I try to make myself useful in the way that I can.
As far as the world-wide audience is concerned, I am grateful for it. I never expected to have viewers volunteer to translate the videos into the many languages we now have in the subtitles: Russian, Greek, Serbian, Spanish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Slovak – and occasionally Japanese, Portuguese, Georgian, Hungarian, Finnish, and even Arabic. We have received letters of thanks from war-torn Syria, from South Africa, and many more from Russia, Serbia, and Greece – even from Mount Athos. Christ calls us all to “Go and teach all the nations…“ Both men and women answered that call in the Early Church with great enthusiasm. Even the Samaritan woman in the Gospel – a sinful woman – managed to convert her entire village to faith in Christ, by spreading the word about Him. So, if today we are able to spread His word through the internet, as well as the word about His saints – then I think we can be nothing other than grateful for that opportunity to answer Christ’s call.