Migrants, Refugees & Jesus Christ

Went last night to an event where good friends who went on mission to the Middle East told the stories of  internally displaced persons and refugees from the Syrian Civil War. They blog about some of their experiences here. Below is a recent sermon on the subject from a good friend of mine in Webster, MA. May God have mercy on us all and teach us how best to reach out and care for what happens on the other side of the world.

How many of us saw the picture of the little Syrian boy washed up on the shore in his attempt to flee into Greece? How about other images of migrants desperately trying to leave places of hopelessness for a better future in Europe or somewhere else? What would drive someone to risk not only their own life, but the lives of their children and entire family?

For many of us, we feel quite uncomfortable looking at these scenes of frantic migrants. If you look through the internet, we can see inspiring examples of people reaching out in compassion and care, while we also see how migrants, refugees, and immigrants can be bundled into a political football, and tossed around in quite a callous manner. Continue reading

Always Winter

Always winter but never Christmas… the spell of the White Witch in Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia has a prescient quality for us here in New England where the incessant battery of snow, snow, and more snow is testing the patience of even the most ardent lover of the white wonder. Here, for those of you in warmer climes, are some of the best things seen and heard from my camera in the past several weeks.

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Fully Armed in Prayer

Charles Krupa / AP

My phone rang this morning at 6:00am. “Such a strange time for anyone to be calling. It could not possibly be a salesman.” Caller ID said, “City of Boston,” and when I answered it, the robo-call voice on the other end spoke of a city-wide advisory to stay indoors while police were in hot pursuit of a suspect who was roaming the streets, extremely armed and dangerous. Now, it is one thing to hear of such tales from browsing too many conspiracy theorists’ websites late into the night. It is another thing entirely to get an official alert from city hall bright and early on a Friday morning. I immediately vowed not to make the same prayer-less mistake that I made earlier in the week when given similarly perilous news. In the wee hours of the morning, before most of my family even thought about arising, I said an Akathist prayer to the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas of Russia and followed it up with the Akathist prayers to the Mother of God that I spoke about in an earlier post. Continue reading

Monks as First Responders

Several years ago after the Virginia Tech Massacre, I wrote an article for our parish newsletter entitled Peace-keepers of Another Kind: Monks of 4th Century Antioch. Given the recent heroic efforts of the first responders at Monday’s Boston Marathon Bombing, I was reminded of this article, and thought it might be time to resurrect its contents for publication in this blog. I hope you agree that it is as timely today as when I first ran it six years ago.

GOODSAM1What does it take to restore peace to a city or country once overrun with violence and civil strife? This question is central in considering recent events both at home with shootings at Virginia Tech and abroad with the attempts of our military to quell sectarian violence in Iraq. A show of force by the ruling authority can help, but it is only part of the solution to what is a much greater spiritual problem, and often an excessive show of force may even make matters worse.

In fourth century Antioch, a crisis broke in the city when a group of citizens who disapproved of the Roman Emperor’s new taxes rebelled by desecrating his statue placed in the center of the city as a sign of his authority. They toppled the statue, tied it to the back of a horse, and dragged it through the city streets. In this ancient empire, any action taken against the Emperor’s image was considered a direct assault on the Emperor himself. These rebels started a riot and placed the whole city under the suspicion of the crown. Magistrates and troops were dispensed at once from Constantinople and rumors ran wild about who was to blame to the extent that all kinds of important public officials and common citizens fled for their lives to “undisclosed locations” around Antioch. Continue reading

Urgent Prayers Needed for Boston

I first heard of the tragedy that struck our fair city in the form of an email call for urgent prayer. And being the prayer warrior that I am… [ahem] well, no, you guessed it. Instead of instantly falling on my knees to almighty God and begging the protection and supplication of his saints and angels, I instead worried and hunted on the internet for information when information was least readily available.

I had been just four blocks away from the blast site with my three young children only several hours before the incident. We enjoyed a lovely morning of carousel and swan boat riding and were contemplating a trip into the spectator crowds around the marathon when a wiser notion [nudge from a guardian angel?] steered us underground on the metro and back towards home. Continue reading

Orthodox Byzantine Music Concert in Montreal, April 20

2013LentenConcert I don’t usually use this blog to advertise upcoming events, but I thought that since some of my subscribers might be local to Quebec, it would be good to hear in advance about an opportunity our little Boston Byzantine Choir of St. Mary Orthodox Church in Cambridge has had to go international (well, okay, just across the border to Canada, but French Canada at least). Announcing a Lenten musical pilgrimage concert entitled From Adam to Christ: A Story of Rebellion to Redemption featuring our own choir and the parish choir of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church of Montreal. The concert will take place in two weeks on the Saturday before the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt, April 20, 7:00 pm, at St. George’s, so if you are local, plan on swinging by to hear some extraordinary and otherworldly music. Click on the flier pictured left for more detailed information and stay tuned for at least one blog post from me in retrospect of the event. I can’t imagine visiting a world class city like Montreal and not having something to say about it!