Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Troparion - Tone 3

Holy Bishop Patrick,
Faithful shepherd of Christ's royal flock,
You filled Ireland with the radiance of the Gospel:
The mighty strength of the Trinity!
Now that you stand before the Savior,
Pray that He may preserve us in faith and love!

Kontakion - Tone 4

From slavery you escaped to freedom in Christ's service:
He sent you to deliver Ireland from the devil's bondage.
You planted the Word of the Gospel in pagan hearts.
In your journeys and hardships you rivaled the Apostle Paul!
Having received the reward for your labors in heaven,
Never cease to pray for the flock you have gathered on earth,
Holy bishop Patrick!

Mother Maria

"At the Last Judgment I will not be asked whether satisfactorily practiced asceticism, nor how many bows I have made before the divine altar I will be asked whether I fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick, and the prisoner in his jail. That is all I will be asked."


Friday, March 13, 2009

Eric Iliff - Memory Eternal

Today is the second anniversary of the falling asleep in the Lord of Eric Iliff, a student at SVS. I'm not sure exactly why he has had so much of an impact on me, but he has. This event clearly has cast a shadow on the Seminary, and it's evident in the feelings of at least some students here. I remember in March 2007, when I was a catechumen and thinking that SVS might be in the future when I read about this online. Eric took his life after much anguish. Surely, there is much to the story, and much that I do not know. Also, there are things that have changed in the Seminary in the past few years. Some students openly blame the institution for how this was handled. There are other administrative issues than this one, but the bitterness left over is palpable.

I do believe that part of the problem that led to Eric's death is how the the Church deals with the issue of sexuality, and in particular, homosexuality. I really believe that silence = death, and when you have an evil cycle of silence, blackmail, and lack of genuine Christian love, how can Christ be present? I should probably use another post to talk about this topic, and I could speak more from a personal perspective, but I believe that Eric's death and this issue are related. When I have seen people leave the Church and lose their faith over this issue, how can it not even be talked about openly? What I do know is that (John 8:32) "The truth shall set you free." I also know that fear and worry is incompatible with Christianity, and I pray that I can stop feeling both. May God have mercy on all of us. As for Eric, may his memory be eternal.

"I'm just a regular guy who gets caught a little too much in his own head. I need other people to get me out of there. I believe there is a God and I'm just trying, not very successfully most of the time, to figure out what he wants me to do from one second to the next. I don't fit most categories on most levels, but I'm okay with that. I think we live in an amazing world and there's so much beauty in it if we're just willing to see it. I like to just walk or drive and astound myself by the fact that I'm conscious at all. Life is a precious gift. I just have to remember that..."

-Eric Iliff

Thursday, March 12, 2009

St. Gregory the Great

Troparion - Tone 4

Receiving divine grace from God on high, glorious Gregory,
and strengthened with its power,
you willed to walk in the path of the Gospel, most blessed one.
Therefore you have received from Christ the reward of your labors.
Entreat Him that He may save our souls.

Kontakion - Tone 3

Father Gregory, you showed yourself to be an imitator of Christ, the chief Shepherd,
guiding the orders of monks to the fold of heaven.
You taught the flock of Christ His commandments.
Now you rejoice and dance with them in the mansions of heaven.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Matthew 11:28

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."

Monday, March 02, 2009


The notion of hero has always been in our literature, art, and culture. There is now even a tv show with the name. My heroes are people that sacrifice themselves, especially being subjected to harm, accepting the risk without knowing consequences. In this category can be anyone who stands up for injustice, people who work multiple jobs for their family, etc.

For me these guys are my heroes. I've served in the same Infantry unit as the two soldiers in this picture. Much of the credit (and scorn) that soldiers get is based on the whim of popular culture. That's why they were spit on during the Vietnam years, and why people justify "supporting the soldiers but not the war" now. Many, if not most, of my friends in the military are now in Iraq or Afghanistan. I've really struggled with this, especially since my Cavalry unit in Vegas will deploy to "The 'Stan" soon. These are people that I have gotten to know over the past few years, ministered to (and they have ministered to me), gone out on training missions with, etc. It's really true that soldiers fight for the guy to the right and left of them, and not always even for the flag or cause when it comes down it.

Seminary is analogous to military life in many ways, and I should speak more on that. I hope I can use my opportunity here to lift up my brothers and sisters, even as I am plagued with doubt and insecurity. I must believe that everything in my life has led me to this place for a reason. We can glorify God wherever we are, and I hope that the struggling and stumbling in my life is toward Christ.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

My sentiments exactly

O strange Orthodox Church, so poor and weak, with neither the organization nor the culture of the West, staying afloat as if by a miracle in the face of so many trials, tribulations and struggles; a Church of contrasts, both so traditional and so free, so archaic and so alive, so ritualist and so personally involved, a Church where the priceless pearl of the Gospel is assiduously preserved, sometimes under a layer of dust; a Church which in shadows and silence maintains above all the eternal values of purity, poverty, asceticism, humility and forgiveness; a Church which has often not known how to act, but which can sing of the joy of Pascha like no other.

-Lev Gillet

I agree with this quote because despite the problems that are in the Orthodox Church (ethnocentrism, homophobia), and how foreign it feels to me at times, it is still the Church of Jesus Christ that I am drawn to for my salvation. Fr. John Meyendorff said it was the right church but the wrong people. At times that seems true, although the Church is a hospital for sinners of all stripes. I am very sensitive to people who don't feel a part of "organized religion," any church, or Christianity itself. We must not speak from a tradition of triumphalism (though what we teach is true), but from humility. We show the truth of our creed and communion by the love we show, to each other, and especially to those who believe otherwise. I don't see Christ in everyone I meet, but I should, and I want to.

Forgiveness Sunday