Friday, September 30, 2005
The United Methodists wrote:
"We believe the impact of this loss to the council will become apparent over the coming months and years, and we implore the council leadership to take immediate steps to understand this action and reach out to leadership within the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese," the letter stated.
Current NCC Orthodox members include: Coptic Orthodox Church in North America, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Orthodox Church in America, Orthodox Church in the U.S.A., Serbian Orthodox Church in the U.S.A. and Canada, Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America and the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America.
"Ordination is not a right. Ordination is a privilege of service granted to men deemed mature enough in all aspects of their lives to be able to be faithful to that service," Fr. Perozich told The American Daily. Fr. Burns Seeley of the Chicago-based Society of St. John Cantius said it seems to him that the Vatican document should touch more on the principle of priestly chastity. "I think 'Even if they are celibate...,' should read, 'Even if they are chaste...'" he told The American Daily.
"No one in the world can change truth. What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it." -- Maximillan Kolbe, priest who was martyred at Auschwitz, August 14, 1941.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5-th year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".
In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy.
The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.
There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.
In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.
Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.
Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.
By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".
During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensibl riten styl.
Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.
Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.
If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl.
Thanks to FWD from Fr Victor Potapov.
Here's the gruesome report.
National Porn Sunday?
"Addictions of any sort, including pornography, set in motion a compulsion that interferes with daily life," says Anderson, who previously ministered to students as a counselor at Judson (Ill.) College. "Suddenly, the day begins to revolve around that addiction. In the case of pornography addiction, nearly everything in the person's speech and actions becomes sexualized, and everything they do is done through that sexualized screen. It becomes their god."
Every day, nearly 40 million people visit one or more of 4.2 million porn sites the internet. At $6.2 billion yearly, porn revenue exceeds the combined revenues of ABC, NBC, and CBS. According to statistics at XXXchurch.com, nearly 50 percent of Christians say that pornography is a major problem in the home.
More H E R E.
TCE* & IRS**
It's the same, ol' song ...
How much for a baptism, wedding, and 3 communions?
*Those crazy episcopalians.
**Investing in Russian sacraments.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
AOA, IOCC, Katrina & Rita
“It has been, and always will be the policy of this God-protected Archdiocese to help our brothers and sisters around the world who have suffered from natural disasters. In this case, the need is at home,” wrote His Eminence Metropolitan Philip in a pastoral letter sent to all parishes of the Antiochian Archdiocese shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck.
The support for the IOCC hurricane relief efforts was the result of collections taken throughout the Archdiocese over two Sundays in September.
Leonidas “Lee” Kapetanakis, an Emergency Response team member from Houston, Texas and IOCC Board Member accepted the contribution on behalf of IOCC.
IOCC’s pan-Orthodox Emergency Response Network has established parish-based response centers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Mobile, Alabama, and Houston, Texas.
The funds contributed by the Antiochian Archdiocese will be used to assist in responding to the emergency needs as well as to support the long-term recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast region.
Founded in 1992, IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA).
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Route to Rita (3)
That, I did. I also found a house with a pool. The latter was enough to pump the boy up. Hurricane, pool. Pool, hurricane. The pool easily won.
We spent the night in the new digs on the floor, sleeping bags. There wasn't a hotel room in the vicinity thanks to the infamous Katrina. By Tuesday morning folks were already talking about approaching weather. I had a serious parental talk with my children, especially Basil. Sometimes hurricanes do hit Houston. But, we'll get through it.
On Wednesday the truck with most of our stuff arrived. By then preparations were underway all around us for the storm.
Silly me, I'd let them pack the coffee maker on the truck. Therefore, Mickie D's made my coffee on Tuesday & Wednesday morning. It was on Wednesday that I heard, really heard, about the hurricane on the radio. They were going over a preparedness checklist. Dang.
So, just hours away from the arrival of all our worldly goods, the wife and I went to a grocery store at 6:40 am. It didn't open till 7 ... there was a line. So, we waited. Folks joked. The store manager opened the door with the announcement: "We have no water! I'm still waiting on a truck. There are a few batteries left by the check-out counters." About half the people that had been waiting in line left.
We'd gotten a few things but, needing more, I came home while Elizabeth and my oldest daughter went hunting (normally called "shopping"). I told my wife, given that we have lots of camping gear -- Coleman stoves, lanterns and such -- to try to get lots of small propane tanks.
Just as the moving van arrived, the gals returned. Lots of water and propane. Yeah! Thing is, as it turned out, all of our camping gear missed this van and won't be delivered until next week. (We did find a One Burner which, thank God, would be a blessing if needed.)
We were moving in. Neighbors were heading out of town. Jokes were made. That's just what comes natural in the face of possible disaster.
One neighbor came over and asked if she could have a few of our mattress boxes. Sure. Why? She said to tape cardboard over the windows to prevent glass and debris from blowing into the house should the windows break. Oh, and, "Welcome to the neighborhood." Something like that.
The people in Houston have been great. Never having considered Texas a part of the South (sorry, cultural bias), I have been pleasantly surprised at just how Southern it seems. Southern etiquette and conservative views prevail. Maybe it's justification, but I'm presently mentally arranging my Southern geography to include East Texas.
The truck left Wednesday afternoon and, like an addiction, we set about unpacking boxes. The pool, we discovered, is a great babysitter.
Thursday found us taping up windows, using lots and lots of cardboard, and getting ready for what was being called an historic storm of catastrophic proportions.
Phones rang. Family, friends, and former parishioners. Praying.
It's been wild.
Did I mention love bugs?
More later ...
Friday, September 23, 2005
Route to Rita (2)
My cousin, a native of Texas, now lives in Madison. The Antiochians have a parish there, St Peter, and about a month ago I emailed the priest, Fr John Henderson -- a wonderful man, and told him of our upcoming visit. He wrote back that that was also their annual episcopal visit from Bishop BASIL!
We didn't make it for Vespers but, in the midst of moving to Texas, had the pleasure of a Hierarchical Liturgy in the pretty town of Madison, Mississippi. It was very nice. St Peter Church is beautiful and worth a visit if you are in the area. The community is very friendly and welcoming. It was also a blessing to see so many Camp St Thekla alumni!
That evening, my cousin took us to dinner at "Cock of the Walk." This restaurant (sort of like "Uncle Bud's" in other parts of the South) only serves Catfish and/or Chicken ... with all the fixins. It sits on the shore of a lake and the staff wear costumes fitting the great river boating days of Mississippi. Meals are served on pie tins with tin cups and pitchers. Way cool and very good.
After feasting on marinated onions, fried pickles, greens, and cole slaw ... they brought out the catfish, chicken, fries & puppies. My son said, "But Dad, we just ate dinner! Why are we eating two dinners?"
Then, at no extra charge, if you time your visit just right, you can kill at least 5 million love bugs on your way home.
More later ...
The Route to Rita (1)
We only got as far as North Georgia on Friday, September 16th. Said "Goodbye" to Archimandrite Damian ... and traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, for a lunch visit with my wife's kin.
We ended up at my cousin's in Madison, Mississippi, for two nights.
George Strait, who is slated to do a big concert here in Houston next week, once had a hit song called "The Love Bug." I will never hear that song again without thinking of the 50 trillion -- times two -- love bugs seen in Mississippi and Louisiana! These bugs are, well, hooked together in an interesting way and, I would hazard to guess, outnumber the sands of the sea. At one point it looked (and sounded) like black rain.
I shall mercifully refrain from describing the windshield. (I must have killed 40 million on the way here.)
More later ...
Friday, September 16, 2005
Many thanks to all well-wishers as we leave the wonderfully blessed state of North Carolina. God willing, we'll arrive in Houston on Monday after a couple of family visits along the way -- including a hierarchical liturgy in Mississippi.
I beg your prayers.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
The Elevation of the Cross
Angels from Heaven invisibly circle the life-bringing Cross in fear, and seeing it now brilliantly shed light-bestowing Grace upon the faithful, amazed they stand and cry to thee such words as these:
Rejoice, O Cross, guardian of the world!
Rejoice, the glory of the Church!
Rejoice, thou that dost bountifully gush forth
Rejoice, thou that dost enlighten the ends of
Rejoice, wood-fragrant with life, and treasury of
Rejoice, fitly-joined, thrice-blessed, and bestower of Grace!
Rejoice, for thou art the divine footstool!
Rejoice, for thou wast ordained for the
worship of all!
Rejoice, bowl of nectar, full to the brim!
Rejoice, torch of the radiance above!
Rejoice, thou through which the creation
Rejoice, thou through the Creator is worshipped!
Rejoice, O Tree most blessed!
O thou thrice-blessed and all-worshipped Cross of Christ, all we the faithful venerate and magnify thee, being joyous at thy divine Exaltation. But as the trophy and unconquered weapon that thou art, by thy Grace, protect, cover, and shelter those who cry to thee:
Rejoice, O Tree most blessed!
Taken from the Akathist Hymn to the Spiritual Ladder, the Precious Cross (Jordanville, 1994).
The image above displays the largest fragment in existence of the True Cross. It is preserved at the Holy Monastery of Xeropotamou on Mount Athos.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
Vladyka Alexander (Mileant), Bishop of Buenos Aires and Southern America reposed in the Lord September 12 (August 30 O.S.). Pannikhida service will be held at Holy Trinity Church, Oxnard, California, at 7 pm on Tuesday, September 13.
Vladyka's body will be brought to church on Thursday, September 15, and there will be Pannikhida service at 7pm.
On Friday, September 16, the Burial service will begin with the Divine Liturgy at 9 am, and then hierarchical burial service at 11 am.
Bishop Alexander is known to many Converts for his tireless efforts in producing Orthodox missionary tracts and developing an online course in Orthodox Theology.
May his memory be eternal!
Monday, September 12, 2005
Houston Orthodox & Hurricane Katrina
“The devastating hurricane which has ravaged the Gulf Coast states of our country… is a reminder to all of us that tragedies in the world are dramatically increasing and that one’s life can be taken in the twinkling of an eye,” wrote Metropolitan Isaiah of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver in a letter to parishes encouraging them to respond through IOCC.
Orthodox parishes in the Metropolis of Denver and throughout the United States have collected funds for the effort and prepared health kits for the hundreds of thousands of people forced to flee the devastated region.
Just days after the hurricane, when people were retreating from New Orleans, Leon Vezos organized a shipment of emergency items and headed to Baton Rouge, La. After loading a truck with water and Gatorade over the Labor Day holiday weekend, Vezos personally drove the supplies which were distributed to rural communities in and around Alexandria, La.
Fr. Gabriel Karambis, Dean of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, where Vezos is a member, has encouraged Orthodox Christians in the community to join in the effort and made available the resources of his parish. Orthodox Christians throughout the city have worked to prepare additional supplies for transfer to Baton Rouge, La. The effort resulted in truckload of urgently-needed diapers, water, Gatorade, clothes and health kits.
Houston, along with Baton Rouge, La. and Mobile, Ala., has become a center for IOCC operations where staff from its Emergency Response Network is coordinating aid to survivors of the disaster.
The IOCC Emergency Response Center in Houston is hosted by St. George Antiochian Church, which is providing office, storage space, and accommodations for the IOCC staff.
IOCC’s emergency response network, comprised of trained Orthodox clergy and their U.S. parish communities, provides emergency services to people struggling to recover from natural or man-made disasters.
Contributions to IOCC’s Hurricane Disaster Response Fund may be sent to IOCC, “Hurricane Relief,” P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, MD 21263-0225. Donations may also be made online at www.iocc.org or by calling toll-free 1-877-803-IOCC (4622).
Founded in 1992, IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA).
Here's the SCOOP.
Tch! Mad as a Hatter!
H E R E .
"I'm ... too sexy for this job! Too sexy ..."
"Teacher in mini-skirt fired by diocese".
Bonci said she separated from her husband in 1995 and divorced in 2000 and that both events had not affected her job or raised eyebrows from her employers at the time.
She said reports that fathers accompanied their children to religion classes so they could look at her meant little to her as long as the children came to class.
"When a woman is considered too sexy and attractive in a small town it becomes a big thing," she said.
And H E R E.
A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, "You are mad; you are not like us.
-- St. Anthony the Great
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Pic taken from here.
H/T to Dawn.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Putin Visits the Holy Mountain
At the port of Athos, Daphne, the head of the Russian Federation was met by the governor of the Holy Mount, George Dalakyros, after which President V.V. Putin and the personnel accompanying him went to the administrative center of Athos-Karyes. Here the President of the Russian Federation and the Russian delegation were met by the Sacred Kinot of the Holy Mountain, at the head of which the Protos, Monk Paul, and the Hegumens and representatives of the the Athos monasteries. In his capacity as representative of the Constantinopolitan Patriarch the Metropolitan Demetrios of Sebaste took part in the welcoming ceremony, and he welcomed the President of Russia, in the name of the His Holiness the Patriarch, and pointed out the importance of a visit by him to the Holy Mountain.
In the very ancient Holy Dormition temple, V.V. Putin venerated one of the greatest of Athos's sacred treasures-the wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God "It is truly meet." A molieben was served here, after which President V.V. Putin and members of the Russian delegation visited the Holy Kinot's building.
Words of greeting were extended by the Sebaste Metropolitan Demetrios, the Protos, and the governor of the Holy Mountain. In the name of the Kinot, the Protos gave V. V. Putin and icon of Saint Athanasius of Athos, while the governor gave him an icon of the Theotokos.
Addressing the members of the Sacred Kinot, the Russian President thanked them for the warm reception afforded him and underlined the special spiritual connection between Russia and Greece, and, in part, Athos. VV. Putin, in part, remarked that Russian is a state with a rather large Orthodox population, as, the historical seeds of Christianity entered Russia from Byzantium and Greece. Thus, the relationship between Russia and Greece, which have a long and rich enough history which provides the necessary prerequisites for growth in a spirit of complete trust. Speaking of the connections between Russia and the Holy Mountain, the President remarked that Russia was ready to completely restore their centuries-long relationship. According to V.V. Putin's words, "This has to be a harmonious relationship, based on absolute trust and shared spiritual ideals."
The special importance of the ties between Russia and Athos had been mentioned at the meeting earlier between V.V. Putin and the Prime Minister of Greece, C. Caramanlis. The head of the Greek State remarked that Holy Mount Athos, which the high-ranking Russian guest would visit is "the connecting link in the relations of our peoples."
In the Guest Book of the Sacred Kinot the President left a commemorative inscription: " To all Ascetics, servants of the Lord, all Christians of Orthodox Faith and the Guardians of Orthodox sacred treasures, respectfully, V.Putin."
The President of Russia presented the Sacred Kinot a gift of the Vladimir Icon of the Theotokos.
After a reception at the Kinot in honor of this important Russian guest, V.V. Putin went to the Monastery of Iviron, where the head of the Russian state was met by the Hegumen of the community, Archimandrite Vasileos (Gontakakis) and the brotherhood. The President went to the Monastery's Catholicon, where a short Molieben was served.
Then the Hegumen of the community talked about the history of the monastery and its numerous ties with Russia. Father Vasileos recalled, among other things, the Iviron chapel located in the center of Moscow, which has now been restored, after being destroyed during the years when the Church was persecuted. The Hegumen expressed his conviction that he main strength of the Russian people was its love of God, about which the great Russian writer F.M. Dosoevsky wrote so clearly. Archimandrite Vasileos likewise remarked on the importance of further growth of friendly relations between the peoples of Greece and Russia. As a gift to the President of Russia, Archimandrite Vasileos presented an icon of the Mother of God with the inscription: 'Most Holy Theotokos, protect thy servant, Vladimir."
"You are right, the strength of Russia is spirituality before everything else," answered V.V. Putin to Archimandrite Vasileos's greeting. After thanking the Hegumen and the brotherhood of the community for the warm reception, the President said that the revival of Faith is one of the foundations of Russia's present revival. The head of state commented on the extremely good relationship between the Most Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Alexi, and the monasteries of the Holy Mountain, including the community of Iveron. V.V. Putin also thanked the Hegumen for the icon.
Then the President went to the chapel of the Iveron Icon attached beside the Metochion, where he venerated that great Holy Treasure. Upon his departure, the Russian President signed the Guest Book of the monastery.
Going on, the President arrived at the Russian Saint Panteleimon Monastery. At the entrance, the head of the Russian state was met by the brethren of the Monastery, headed up by the Hegumen, Archimandrite Jeremiah (Alekhin). While the bells were rung and the sound of the song, 'It is truly meet," sung by the monastery choir, V.V. Putin went to the temple of the Holy Great Martyr Panteleimon, where he venerated the Saint's relics. The brethren served a short Molieben, during which, according to Athos usage, the Great Chandelier was swung, which is usually done during Great Feasts.
After the Molieben, the Hegumen of the Monastery, Archimandrite Jeremiah spoke to the President of the joy occasioned by the visit of this high guest and, as a prayerful memento, gave him a copy of the icon of Saint Panteleimon.
The President thanked the brethren for preserving the spiritual treasures and "for serving the Lord, to Whom you have devoted your whole life." The head of state also gave the monastery a new Tabernacle for the Altar. Then V.V. Putin visited the monastery's temples of the Protection and of the Dormition of the All-Holy Theotokos., as likewise the temple of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, went up into the monastery belltower where he rang on a bell three times, and he likewise visited the monastery's sewing factory.
After venerating the communities Sacred items, the President took part in the brethren's trapeza. After the trapeza, the head of state thanked the inhabitants of the community for their prayers for Russia and for all Orthodox Christians. "As a sign of recognition in the name of the entire Russian people," V.V. Putin awarded the Hegumen of the monastery, Archimandrite Jeremiah (Alekhin) the Order of Friendship..
This high award was authorized Father Jeremiah by an Ukaz of the President of September 3rd, for " Great contribution to the preservation and increase of spiritual and cultural traditions, to the strengthening of friendship between peoples.
The President also thanked the Greek authorities and the governor of Athos "for help and support" shown to the representatives of Russia by the brethren of the Monastery
During the visti of the President to Mouth Athos, there was also present the deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Dept. of External Church Relations, Bishop Mark of Egor'ev.
Taken from the website of the Moscow Patriarchate and translated by His Grace Tikhon, The Bishop of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the West; The Orthodox Church in America
Friday, September 09, 2005
We are at war with ourselves, our passions, our perversions, our weaknesses. Not being very successful in this campaign, we set our sights on another arena: Our neighbor.
We wage war on our neighbor, because we are too weak to save our souls.
Yet the battle for our soul rages on. We may not believe it precious enough to fight for. But the Enemy does. We see his attacks, the effects, the decay.
The Enemy's ever present visions may tempt us with blindness to all but death.
(He is the original Terrorist.)
But one death reigns supreme: the One that also views our soul -- yours, mine -- as precious. Peace begins with this Man. That Tree. Another Garden. And amazingly ... Life.
Guard your peace. Be faithful!
And may Paradise consume us.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Moving to Houston
We move next week. Prayers coveted.
Dear to Christ, Father Joseph:
Blessings to you, Khouriya Elizabeth and your children in the Name of the Lord Christ.
Please be advised that effective Friday, September 23, 2005, you are to assume responsibility as assistant priest at St George Orthodox Christian Church in Houston, Texas, under the direction of the Proëstamenos, The Reverend John Salem.
I have asked the chair of the St George Parish Council to be in immediate contact with you so that together you may make all necessary plans for your move to Houston.
St George Church in Houston is one of leading congregations in our Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, and its church temple is one of the most beautiful in the entire Archdiocese. I am confident that your ministry there will bear much fruit to the glory of the All-holy Trinity and the upbuilding of Holy Orthodoxy here in the Heartland. Be assured of my love, prayers and blessings.
Your father in Christ,
+ B A S I L
Bishop of Wichita and Mid-America
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
A View from Louisiana
by J. Mark Christian
We live about an hour away from metropolitan New Orleans, Louisiana.
Helicopters are presently passing over our home in Baton Rouge – one after the other, some military, some civilian. In the past week, the population of our adopted city has grown by over 100,000. Every main thoroughfare is clogged like a perpetual rush hour. Many of the evacuees are driving around the city, everyone seems to be on their mobile phones, frustrated by the recurring busy signals and “all circuits are busy” messages. Many more are in shelters: some provided by civil government, others by churches.
Many are dying. Reports from New Orleans depict corpses floating in the muckish, polluted water, others abandoned on interstate overpasses, others left in makeshift graves fashioned from tarp and bricks, marked with spray paint in the desperate hope that someone, someday will find their loved one and provide proper burial.
In The Ladder of Divine Ascent, St. John Climacus tells us that “the monk has a body made holy, a tongue purified, a mind enlightened. Asleep or awake, the monk is a soul pained by the constant remembrance of death.”
My body is tired, my tongue is tied, my mind is clouded by too much information, too much upheaval, too much traffic. Yet asleep and awake, my soul is pained by the constant remembrance of death… and destruction… and displacement.
Many have observed that it all seems so inexplicable, so surreal. At our home we had heavy wind, a number of branches fell, power was out for just over a day. Compared to the devastation to the east, we were unscathed. My children complained because the cable TV was out for almost a week. I struggled to explain that there are worse things than missing Sponge Bob Square Pants. But I don’t fault them for their complaints; I realize that it’s not just about Sponge Bob. They want normalcy. And everything, at varying degrees, is so utterly abnormal.
Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.
Over thirty years ago, the novelist Walker Percy (another Louisianan by adoption) began his novel Love in the Ruins with a question that conveys the apocalyptic mood that suffuses this part of the world:
Now in these dread latter days of the old violent beloved U.S.A. and of the Christ-forgetting Christ-haunted death-dealing Western world I cam to myself in a grove of young pines and the question came to me: has it happened at last?
Has “it” happened? Is this the way the world ends? Not with a bang or a whimper, but with wind and rain and fire and flood? For countless Louisianans, their world has ended. Will they build another one?
The church where we worship – St. Basil’s Orthodox in Metairie – is almost certainly flooded. We still don’t know for sure. We went to Liturgy on Sunday in a little Greek chapel here in Baton Rouge. The place was packed: Greeks from New Orleans, Antiochians from Metairie… the priest was Romanian, an IOCC representative. He celebrated in English, the cantor responded in Greek. The congregation stood in prayer, disjointed, displaced, unsure what to make of it all, some crying, some unable to enter the temple because of their grief. They stood outside, wanting to be a part of things, but overwhelmed by the fact that their life in New Orleans isn’t there for them any more. As we read in the Ladder, their souls are pained by the constant reminder of death and destruction.
Months ago, I remember reading David Hart’s editorial in the Wall Street Journal reflecting on the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia. His words have stayed with me, perhaps so that I can remember them now… how Orthodox Christians believe that we exist in “the long melancholy aftermath of a primordial catastrophe,” in a broken and wounded world that languishes in bondage to principalities and powers – spiritual and terrestrial – alien to God. And yet, the incarnate God entered His world to rescue “the beauties of creation from the torments of a fallen nature.”
Hart reminded his readers that when we are confronted with the sheer immensity of worldly suffering, we are permitted only to hate death and waste and the imbecile forces of chance that shatter living souls. For now, we must remember that creation is in agony in its bonds, divided between two kingdoms, and that only charity will sustain us against “fate.” For now, I’m trying to remember all of that.
We’ll do what we can to “love in the ruins.”
And we’ll keep saying our prayers:
Crossing the waters as on dry land,
In that way escaping From the evils of Egypt's land,
The Israelites cried out exclaiming:
To our Redeemer and God, now let us sing.
Most Holy Theotokos save us.
With many temptations surrounding me,
Searching for salvation,
I have hastened unto you;
O Mother of the Word, and ever‑Virgin,
From all distresses and dangers deliver me.
Most Holy Theotokos save us.
Assaults of the passions have shaken me,
My soul to its limits
Has been filled with much despair;
Bring peace, O Maiden, in the calmness,
Of your own Son and your God, all‑blameless One.
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
To God and the Savior you've given birth;
I ask you, O Virgin,
From the dangers deliver me;
For now I run to you for refuge,
With both my soul and my reasoning.
Now and forever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Caveat Lector: HOT-DOGS
So I was surprised when, at a recent meeting in Houston, I saw the back of a T-shirt that read: "Best Butts in Town." On the front was an ad for a BBQ joint.
A few days later, as the kids were setting table for dinner, I told my wife about that T-shirt, saying: "You know it's got to be referring to pork butts ... I mean they don't use cow butts in anything except, maybe, hot-dogs."
Basil, age 7, innocently said: "Uh, Dad. I thought they used another private part for hot-dogs."
Quick glance at the wife, simultaneous jaw dropping & eye-widening! "Noooooooooo, son. Oh, no, no, no."
We laughed, stammered some sort of hot-dog ingredient mantra, kept looking at each other and trying not to snort.
Innocently, during dinner, Basil said: "Well, I've got to tell some people." It turns out he'd told a few of his buddies how [he thought] hot-dogs were made.
It was one of those dinners where you couldn't help but smile. Parents. Children. Innocence. Glory to God.
Then, just before we were all done with the meal, a rather serious looking Basil was still searching for answers: "Mom. Dad? Well ... why do they call them weenies?"
Friday, September 02, 2005
HURRICANE: Local Efforts, Houston
Hurricane Katrina Relief
Thank you all for the many inquiries into helping aid all the evacuees of this great disaster of the Gulf Coast. As of now, we will list the ways that you can help. I.O.C.C. (International Orthodox Christian Charities) has asked us to make Health Kits to be distributed. Please carefully follow the instructions:
Buy a one-gallon plastic bag with a zipper closure and fill it with the following items:
1 hand towel
1 metal nail file or nail clipper
1 bar of soap
1 tube of toothpaste (4-7 ounces)
For those who make many bags pack it in a cardboard box and secure it with packing tape and mark it with the words HEALTH KIT.
You may also bring blankets, diapers, towels and bottled water
You may bring these kits to the Church on Sunday or during office hours 8:30 A.M. – 4:30 P.M. on Tuesday thru Friday.
If you are able to house any evacuees, please e-mail Sylvia Araj of I.O.C.C. [firstname.lastname@example.org]. Please let her know how many people that you can accommodate and for how long.
Fr. Peter Nugent of our sister parish, St. Basil in New Orleans will be at Liturgy this Sunday. His parish has been flooded and he will return Monday for a few hours to assess the damage. To his knowledge, all of his parishioners have evacuated safely.
I.O.C.C. is currently on the ground in Louisiana assessing the damage. They will be in Houston next Friday to meet with the Orthodox Clergy and Council members as to how to proceed with continued aid effort. This will be a prolonged effort of many months to come.
The Antiochian Archdiocese has asked all of its parishes to take collections the next two Sundays to help with relief.
Please keep all the survivors and those who have perished in this Great Disaster in your prayers.
Another Postponement of Destruction
before I saw it a thick glass baking dish
I'd set outside for dogs the night before.
It skidded to the top step, teetered, tipped
into an undulating slide from step
to step, almost stopped halfway down, then lunged
on toward concrete, and I froze to watch it
splinter when it hit. Instead, it kissed
the concrete like a skipping stone, and rang
to rest in frost-stiffened grass. Retrieving it,
I suddenly felt my neck-cords letting go
of something like a mask of tragedy.
I washed the dish and put it in its place,
then launched myself into a rescued day.
Stolen from The Writer's Almanac (9/2/05).
Thursday, September 01, 2005
The missing digits immediately set off speculation of divine intervention.
Many in the Quarter are now saying it was the hand of Jesus, the missing digits to be precise, that flicked the hurricane east just a little to keep the city from suffering a direct blow.
And the search is on for those missing fingers.
H E R E