Happy Birthday Blog!

Only two years ago today, Like Mendicant Monks had its beginning. Here we are two years later still delivering reflections, media reviews, and hard hitting analysis of wherever on the planet our family happens to find itself.

Thanks to all of you who have been with us on the journey since the beginning and to all who may have more recently joined us. We have come a long way together, and with God’s help, we have miles to go before we sleep. May God richly bless you all!

Care for the Soul, a Thing Immortal

Frs.-Herman-and-SeraphimA1Test thyself, who thou art; come to know thy nature; come to know that thy body is mortal, while thy soul is immortal, that our life is two­-sided: one side, proper the flesh, is transitory, while the other, related to the soul, does not admit limitation. Therefore, take heed to thyself, do not dwell on the mortal as eternal, and do not disdain the eternal as transitory. Do not care about the flesh, because it passes away; take care for the soul, a thing immortal.

– Saint Basil the Great

Fr. Herman (Podmoshesky), sometime abbot of St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, died today after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease and diabetes. While his wish was for his body to lie in the ground close to his friend and co-struggler in the monastic life, Fr. Seraphim Rose, his precious soul, which he poured out on behalf of so many, will still be alive in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved him. He is one of the first Orthodox pastors to teach me the true place of beauty in the spiritual life and how important it is to feed one’s soul with truth, beauty, and goodness before ever aspiring to things of the spirit. Continue reading

A Declaration of Interdependence

Saints Lives Alongside the Daily News

Saints Lives Alongside the Daily News & Toys

As our time in Russia comes to a close, I think most about the day-to-day providences that surround us in this vast land of Third Rome. They are divine providences that even a whole century of atheist communism could not break or expunge from the people’s memory. And they are founded on an interdependence between church and state, between Christ and culture whose foundation extends a whole millenium to the very Baptism of the people in the 10th century. Continue reading

Pop Culture That’s Alive

In a previous post, I exaggerated a bit about our family’s lack of media consumption. We do watch a little bit of television in Russia, but it is the kind of programming that we don’t find in America. After breakfast around 10:00am, we watch a 20 minute segment of cultural news on a whole channel appropriately named Kultura which also features documentaries, interviews, classic films, fine art reviews, opera, ballet… you name it. It’s a bit like PBS on steroids.

Similarly, the children’s theatre here is on a whole different level. I went today with my children to the Old Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard; it was the first time for me as well as for my children. Continue reading

Oases of Calm in a Desert of Noise

For a large family like ours to come from a small city like Boston and choose a much larger city like Moscow for a summer vacation seems strange. Most folks that live in cities during the year seek to escape them in the summer. But Moscow is no ordinary booming metropolis.

Begun over eight centuries ago as the central meeting point of several other cities that form a golden ring around her, the city of St. George bustles with the busyness of a thousand villages rolled into one. One of only 24 megacities, it is the largest inland and coldest megacity in the world. Nestled in this beehive of commerce and activity are the jewels established many centuries past, the spiritual heart of Russia’s modern and ancient capital, the oases of calm in this grand desert of noise: the Moscow Monasteries. Continue reading

How’s the Weather There?

Moscow Sky

Alluring Moscow Summer Sky

There’s a saying in Boston that if you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes.  It is even more true of Moscow in the summertime where clouds constantly roll and change a bright sunlit sky into a big downpour. After a downpour there is a cool weather. The weather here  like the people moves in strange and unpredictable ways and teaches all of us to lean not on our own understanding but in all things to discern the ways of providence.