The Power of Confession in Community

Saturday, November 28, 2020
First Day of the Nativity Fast
Commencement of Advent in the Orthodox Church

In this season of hope and expectation of deliverance, I saw a film about the power of confession within community. Words on Bathroom Walls tells the story of a young man named Adam diagnosed with schizophrenia during his senior year in high school and how he copes with this very difficult mental illness. He hears and sometimes sees characters and voices that severely distract and sometimes rip apart his soul. His first instinct is to try to pretend that he can hide it from friends and those beyond his immediate family circle. When that plan backfires, he is expelled from school for being too much of a danger to others. His mother and stepfather enroll him in a private Catholic school where he is given a second chance and encounters an extraordinary young lady named Maya whose love begins to chip away at his defensive and ultimately harmful facade.

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An Eternal Circle of Reciprocal Thanks

a stained glass window of the saint

November 13/26, St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople

American Thanksgiving Day

Despair is a temptation when life loses its purpose and the threat of an untimely death threatens to shorten that purposeless existence. As the worldwide coronavirus continues to rage with the possible hope for medical relief still months away, it is difficult to find cause to give thanks. Yet the lives of the saints show us how to find joy under all circumstances and the saint we remember this year on the feast of American Thanksgiving especially teaches how to give glory to God for all things.

Saint John Chrysostom the Golden-mouthed Archbishop of Constantinople (347-407) not only lived a life of thanksgiving, he is the principle author of the Divine Liturgy, the means by which the Church communes the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the medicine of immortality and the mystical union of humanity with God. The Liturgy is also called the Eucharist from the Greek verb eucharisto which literally means “to give thanks” or to say thank you. When the church celebrates the Liturgy, She is thanking God, returning the gift received to the Giver of all good things in an eternal circle of reciprocal thanks.

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First Snow

Nothing is as magical this time of year as the first serious snowfall. Our kids took full advantage of the 3 plus inches of snow that fell and lingered for at least a day. We parents are blessed that the usual difficulty of getting the tikes outside to breath fresh air is no longer a chore. They literally chomp at the bit to get on gloves, hats, scarves, boots and be rollicking in fluffy white creations of their own design. Here is just a sample of the fun!

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Another Downton Abbey

Fans of the now concluded Downton Abbey have been looking for sometime for the next creation of director Julian Fellowes. I am pleased to say that his latest creation Belgravia, now available on DVD or through a subscription to EPIX, more than fits the bill.

I just finished watching this six episode mini-drama about a self-made businessman named James Trenchard who makes his way into London society via marriage with his eligible daughter Sophia. All the usual pretensions of true and not-so-true aristocracy play out in this wonderful tale of love, betrayal, and everlasting integrity. So order your copy of the drama wherever you find good British period pieces. You won’t be sorry you did!

Mathematical Theology and Dialectic

I had my first full week of teaching this past week. After over six months of pandemic restrictions of various degrees, it was invigorating to see several classrooms full of eager faces, albeit masked and socially distant faces. Our family continues the same hybrid model of classroom and at-home education which now, strangely enough, has become almost the norm under COVID-19. As classical Christian educators, we continue with an ancient method of learning that has been baptized and re-contextualized in the light of divine revelation. It is the relationship between these two terms, classical and Christian, which I propose as my topic for this year’s back to school post.

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Reluctant Conversions

Just watched via Hoopla an off-Broadway production I have wanted to see for some time. Seems it is becoming the custom in this pandemic to place any number of good Broadway shows online where they can be streamed on demand (I confess a recent subscription to Disney plus just so that I could see the musical Hamilton).

Max McClean as C.S. Lewis

This show that I saw on hoopla from a Broadway company I have long admired features a bright light of the 20th century who combined with a handful of others saved my spiritual life from bankruptcy. C.S. Lewis the Most Reluctant Convert in England is a crisp monologue performed by the director of an organization called the Fellowship of the Performing Arts. The show logs in at a crisp hour and 15 minutes and packs more deep philosophical yearning and profound spiritual insight than anything Broadway has cooked up for some time.

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Tear down that statue

First the death of George Floyd. Then the tearing down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. What will come next? Will we forget all of our not so great history? Like my sister wisely said if we forget history we are doomed to make the same mistakes again.

All human beings are flawed, no matter what we may think. Does this mean we should forget about imperfect humans? Should we fail to remember amazing heroes in American history just because of a flaw?

The writers of our own constitution had many flaws, including owning slaves. Does this mean we should forget everything by focusing only on there bad sides? No, we have to recognize that they did a very important job for our country. This means not to tear down statues but instead we should learn from there mistakes (and remember them) and focus on making our world better!

My take on the BLM movement

Let me start by making a very important statement: every single person’s life matters and therefore everyone deserves to be loved, cared for and cherished. This includes police officers and people of any race, background and ethnicity.

In this day and age we find ourselves in a difficult situation. Many thought racism was completely gone but now we know it is very much alive. I myself think that I used to be racist before starting to attend the beautifully diverse school, Boston Trinity Academy. My point is that many people are blind to our present situation. The easiest way out is to blame the police. We forget that these are the amazing brave individuals who save our lives every day. I am not saying that some are not extremely racist, but I am saying that this statement makes the mistake of overgeneralization. I am not trying to protect racist people but instead give you a way to help them. When I went to Boston Trinity Academy, I became friends with many different diverse students. All police officers need to meet and become wonderful friends with many people no matter what color of skin, religion or ethnicity. These relationships will show all that we are equal and that we should treat everyone we see with the love and respect they deserve.

The Quiet Beauty of Orthodox Sprituality

Picture taken near St. John the Baptist Monastery

Monasteries are the center of Orthodox Spirituality and are unfortunately mostly highly underrated. For a while I thought of them as a place to pray and plant seeds. But after visiting St. John the Baptist Monastery in Warwick, MA on many occasions my perception changed.

This small monastery in Western Massachusetts has a very relaxed atmosphere. Encompassed by forest, this place is surrounded by beautiful nature. Having this relaxed, calm setting sets a deep sense of inner peace. The quiet area helps calm the soul and leave all the worldly cares behind.

There are many monasteries around the world, and all of them have a unique setting. But the important key to the quiet beauty is the peace and calmness that is in the core of these Orthodox communities.

The Builder of Aghia Sophia

The following is a repost of an article that appeared on our Diocesan website concerning Aghia Sophia, the ancient Christian temple which for a whole millennium stood for worship of the true and living God worshipped in Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When it was conquered in 1543, it was viciously ransacked, desecrated then rededicated as a mosque for several hundred years. In the past century or so it has served simply as a museum; now by decree of Turkey’s current president, it is reverting again to a mosque. Please pray with me for peace and wisdom to know the proper response to such an important decision.

The Holy Right-Believing King Upravda-Justinian – The Builder of Hagia Sophia

20 July, 2020.  † Metropolitan of the United States, Canada and Australia – Joseph

With the title of Holy Right-Believing King, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church has added Emperor Upravda-Justinian in its Calendar of Saints on the date of November 14th.

We recall his life and achievements on the occasion of the recent conversion of the church he built “Hagia Sophia” to a mosque by the Turkish authorities. We ask our readers to pray from the heart to St. Right-Believing Upravda-Justinian to help us in our efforts and struggles. He knows how to do that.

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