The famous saying that Christian Life is caught not simply taught relates to this injunction from the apostle to his disciple. I remember a time in my life when I had just graduated college that I eagerly desired to receive such a transmission. Oh, to be entrusted with the sacredkerygma of the living and saving Gospel of Jesus Christ from someone in that line of succession: a man who had heard it from a man who had heard it from another all the way back to the Lord himself. My own fathers In the flesh had all but denied this possibility. A writer of the book called The History of the Evangelical Association, a German pietistic confession that my ancestors followed in the mid-nineteenth century proclaimed about the historical apostolic succession “There remains an unbridgeable chasm between the Roman Catholic Church and our own Protestant one, and who can bridge this unbridgeable chasm?”
Day 3 of our vacation at Cape Cod and by all accounts this was a very good idea. The house we rented from a Family friend is extraordinarily well-organized, with drawers and even light switches labeled. Situated in Chatham Massachusetts, our lodgings sit in proximity to several good beaches, a private freshwater lake, and bikeable roads leading to dedicated rail trails. It is the perfect cure for families tired of being cooped up in quarantine. We simply take our quarantine somewhere else with only a few more added to the mix.
The following is from Friday Reflections, an email sent out every week from the editor of Touchstone Magazinepublished by the Fellowship of Saint James. It describes exactly how I feel about the Church’s proper response to the current coronavirus pandemic. I hope that you find its news about the Georgian Church’s response refreshing and inspiring. Christ is risen!
We did it! We survived Holy Week, Pascha, and Bright Week mostly from our at home services and through live-stream on TV. The joy of the Resurrection and the growing warmth of spring naturally turns us outward, desiring to share the good news with others. But the continued COVID-19 quarantine still places limits on that desire.
A place in western Massachusetts that was bought by one of our parish deacons and his wife and transformed into a farm, retreat center, and sometime summer camp is now a fully-fledged, full-service spiritual oasis, St. John the Baptist Orthodox Christian Monastery. Our family visits the two monastic fathers who dwell here for a day trip that allows us to fulfill our desire to evangelize while obeying the strict rule of the government not to gather in groups larger than ten (7 + 2= 9).
And who is the God who will deliver you out of my hands?
— Pharaoh, King of Egypt to Moses the Great, Patriarch, Prophet & God-seer
The taunt of this particular Egyptian ruler rings down through the centuries and is rehearsed every Great and Holy Saturday during one of the 13 readings from the Old Testament. But it is more than a taunt or even an honest query: It is the prayer of every person in the grip of some power beyond their making or control.
“How do you, Father Herman, manage to live alone in the forest, don’t you get bored?” He answered, “No, I’m not alone there! There is God, and God is everywhere! There are holy angels! How can one be bored with them? With whom is it more pleasant and better to converse, angels or people? Angels, of course.”
In this forth week of our at-home Coronavirus quarantine, we struggle as a family with where to go and what to do. Our travelogue has been quickly and suddenly restricted to our immediate vicinity, and we labor at how to overcome feelings of isolation and boredom. The saints in heaven and especially the monastic hermits like St. Herman of Alaska can teach us what to do with our boredom, and it does not involve surfing to the next binge-worthy series or reaching for our favorite comfort food. It involves a rediscovery of our blessed habitation, that home which Father Herman called, “the blessed place which will render my soul’s salvation.”
Every year around this time I encourage those of you in my world wide readership that have never been to an Orthodox Church or visited an Orthodox worship service to GO. This year we have the especial privilege and blessing to not have much on our schedule as most are quarantined. I hereby encourage you then to live stream the Holy Week services in very own living room!
Starting today and continuing throughout next week until Pascha (Orthodox Easter) and beyond will be served throughout the world the most sublimely beautiful and divinely inspired worship you have ever seen, heard, felt, smelled or touched, except this year the feeling, smelling and touching will be left to only a few (those few who are left to serve what is being live streamed).
This is a remembrance from our Boston Byzantine Choir Director, Charlie Marge about a dear friend and priest recently reposed.
It is with great sadness, but with the hope of the resurrection, that we inform you of the passing of Fr. Isaac Crow, pastor of Sts. Peter & Paul in Potomac, MD and father of our BBC alum and composer, Basil Crow. From our early days, Fr. Isaac was a strong supporter of the Boston Byzantine Choir and offered our ministry much encouragement over the years. He was a kind and gentle man, full of faith and wisdom. He battled cancer on and off over the past few years, which had just returned three weeks ago. In the words of his Khouriyee, “He died a true Christian. With every pain and tribulation he would say ‘Thank God.’” We will miss him dearly.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Glory to Jesus Christ! What does it take to get our attention? All we have needed the hand of the Creator has provided yet sometimes it takes extraordinary measures for God to wake us up from the slumber of sin. We sinners spend far too much time wallowing in the filth of this world, being amazed at the depths of depravity to which a human soul will plunge. Our reality TV shows compete not in deeds of righteousness but in more and more bizarre acts of disgust, revenge, and betrayal. In last Sunday’s Parable of the Prodigal, we are far more interested in the prodigal’s lifestyle, the pig’s food he had stooped to eating, than in his eventual return home. And yet he did return home after he had come to himself and returned to his senses. What brought him to that moment of repentance, the moment of return? Father Patrick suggested in last week’s sermon that a better title for this parable might be “the Parable of the Loving Father” for in the end, he is the star of the story; it is his unrelenting, ever-pursuing love that brought home the prodigal.
Want to make my readership aware of the availability of two great old classic television shows now on Amazon Prime, streaming for free all episodes of all seasons. Some would disparage growing up in such a time as ours, but I for one greatly appreciate the ability to watch such shows in their entirety, in order, from start to finish without annoying commercials or the need to block out a particular time. I speak of Little House on the Prairie and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.