The following is the text of a toast I gave in honor of my parents’ reception into the Holy Orthodox Church on Sunday, May 12, Third Sunday of Pascha in honor of the Holy Myrrhbearers and American Mother’s Day. My father was received by Baptism and my mother by Chrismation at Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church in East Syracuse, NY.
“Nobody knows the trouble I seen. Nobody knows but Jesus.”
These simple, yet profound lyrics from an old negro spiritual express the longing of many a Christian lost in the multitude of denominations and confessions of the Church in this country and in the world. This family alone has experienced not less than 15 in our collective lives. But when I first witnessed the Orthodox Church I could see a church where, “Every generation chanteth hymns of praise to Christ.” Everyone from the smallest infant to the oldest great grandmother, all gather together in one Church. Today this prophecy has been fulfilled in your eyes: Not in a church designed principally for the youth, not in a church designed principally for the elderly, but in the Church where family integrated worship has never gone out of style. Continue reading
The following is a commemoration sent to our Bulgarian Orthodox Diocese by Diocesan Metropolitan Joseph on the occasion this Sunday of the 60th anniversary of the death of the Bulgarian Exarch Stefan I (1878-2017). May his memory be eternal.
THE CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
On May 14, 1957, exiled in the village of Banja, Karlovo, died the Bulgarian Exarch Stefan I. The clergy and laity of the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia, with prayer and in good memory, will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the falling asleep of this great spiritual elder of Bulgarian Orthodoxy.
Exarch Stefan is a well-known name in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. We all know him as a high-ranking Bulgarian Orthodox cleric, who during his life left a deep imprint in the troubled 20th century history of our Church. He is known as a teacher, writer, eloquent speaker, international ecclesiastical figure, bold defender of the Bulgarian Church and our national interest at home and abroad. He supported the conversion of the Pomaks, who were newcomers to Bulgaria from the lands added after the Balkan wars. He survived the horror of the church bombings as he was leading the memorial prayer service in the church of “St. Nedelya” on April 16, 1925. He gave his blessing for the establishment of the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of America and Canada. Continue reading
A good and godly spiritual father of mine passed this morning. The thoughts and good wishes of so many of his spiritual children have been flooding the internet already, and I wish to add my remembrances to the growing chorus.
My parents and I met Pastor James M. Riccitelli at a moment of deep spiritual crisis, when the church that we had been attending gave my parents an ultimatum that drove them out of the fellowship. It was unfortunately not a new experience for us. I was in college at the time, and by then, my family and I had been a part of not less than 10 different churches. But this loss felt different than the others. I remember that I had a key to this church because I had become a member of her, not merely adhering to my parent’s wishes. When it was clear that we were not going to be able to go back, I looked with weariness toward the next fellowship of believers in Christ. What would they be like? Would we be welcome with all our brokenness and failed dreams?
Happy third birthday to this blog! So happy to have all of you reading and commenting. I often think of the great writer and NPR commentator Frederica Matthewes-Green whenever I get the urge to post something. Her general rule of thumb before she sets something to print is to determine whether or not it is something she herself will want to read. On this third birthday of Like Mendicant Monks, I pledge to you dear readers the same thing: That I hope always to set forth something that will enrich me as much if not more than it does you. May our good God who loves humankind give us strength to speak the truth in love whether our audience is thousands, hundreds, or just the neighbor sitting next to us. Amen.
Test 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 to 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
He only said two words to me in his entire apostolic life, but they were the two most meaningful words I have ever heard a bishop utter. They were the same words he used to greet every wayward American pilgrim that had somehow found themselves at the doorstep of the ancient, apostolic Church. And they are the same words that we who love him the most now use to usher him in benediction on to his true and heavenly abode: WELCOME HOME. Continue reading