Sunday, November 30, 2008

a love strong enough to make you weep

I've been perusing old church photos that showed up whilst cleaning out the dumping room office. Some are 4 years old and more. How time flies. How our family has grown. How we have loved and annoyed and cared for and changed over the years. I am part of a large family.
Our family has been suffering lately. When one part hurts, all parts feel it. It is our duty to bear one another's burdens. If we don't, then we are all lost. The hardest thing to do though, when you are suffering, when you are in that dark valley, is to ask somebody to come down and walk beside you. You feel diseased and infectious. This is where the family must step up, and do what has to be done. One of our sister parishes is also going through some hard times, and this sunday, the priest of their parish has beseeched the whole parish (on behalf of one couple in particular, who are suffering greatly, and have been on the verge of a separation for a while now... they have also just welcomed their first baby into their lives)... sorry, I digress: he has beseeched the whole parish to step up their prayer and fasting this advent season on behalf of this family. Instead of facebook, and blogs, more prayer, stricter fasting. When one part suffers, the whole suffers.
I was speaking to the someone about this, asking: "Is there something in the air? Is mercury in retrograde? Why are so many marriages and people suffering right now? What is happening?"
To which this wise person replied "It's just people. And sin. And struggling to die to self. It's a hard thing to do, when it comes down to it"
Lord have mercy on us all.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Great Book Giveaway!

BIG THINGS are happening with the St. Herman's parish library & book store!

STEP ONE: The library will be closed till the new year (the book store will remain open). To make way for new books, older ones that are seeing little use will be available BY DONATION to members after church for the next few weeks.
Proceeds to camp & future library needs.

STEP TWO: The library will be inventoried & catalogued. Parish members can donate books to the library permanently, or on a kind of long-term loan basis-- your name can remain in the book and it will be returned to you if you choose to take it back. All donations will be vetted by Fr. Lawrence. New books will also be purchased. Speak to Andrea F or Vivian H about this.

STEP THREE: When the library reopens, the signout register will have alphabetical sections of family names. Loan period will be one month, shorter for high-demand books. There will be 'display' copies (can't borrow them yet) of books available in the bookstore for purchase. There will be email or phone reminders about due books.

STEP FOUR: We are beginning a BOOK REVIEW BLOG for books that will be available in our library and bookstore. If you want to review a book you have read, please e-mail matdonna {at} shaw dot ca with the title you want to review. The blog will go live around the time the library reopens. If we do well with the book review blog, we may in future get review copies of newly published books from authors and editors.

More about the bookstore and library to come in the future-- keep watching this space!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Met. Jonah's banquet speech

The podcast of this speech was already posted on Ancient Faith Radio, and you can still download it there, along with other things from the AAC.

But if you prefer to read text, you can now read a transcription here:

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Yes, it's here already! You can find the fasting rules for November at the site and in the November issue of the newsletter at church.

Whatever you do at home, please remember to bring fasting foods for our communal meal at church Sundays and after festal liturgies (there is one next Thursday Nov. 20 on the eve of the Presentation of the Theotokos to the Temple. It will begin at 6:30 PM, which will now be our default time for all vespers, vesperal liturgies and any other evening services.) No meat, eggs or dairy.

FISH is allowed for weekends and major feasts. Details in the newsletter.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Metropolitan JONAH

As Matushka has already indicated, His Beatitude Metropolitan JONAH is our new primate. I have some very basic stats for those of you that are interested in that kind of thing. I will only include the top-four by ballot count (there were lots more receiving only 1 or 2 nominations).

1st Round of Nominating by 'the people' (everybody writes 1 name on ballot):
Archbishop JOB - 212
Archbishop SERAPHIM - 33
Bishop BENJAMIN- 75
Bishop JONAH - 233

So... because one candidate did not receive 2/3 of the nominations, we went to a second round.

2nd Round of Nominating by 'the people' (everybody writes 2 names on ballot):
Archbishop JOB - 364
Bishop TIKHON - 75
Bishop BENJAMIN- 140
Bishop JONAH - 473

You can see that the people's choice was Bishop JONAH, with Archbishop JOB in the second position. It is important to note that we do NOT 'elect' a bishop in the Orthodox Church - bishops make bishops. Our process allows for our hierarchy to hear the voice of the people before they begin their own deliberations. The previous two times that a Metropolitan was enthroned, the bishops did not go with the people's primary choices; it was the retired Metropolitan THEODOSIUS over Archbishop DMITRI, then the retired Metropolitan HERMAN over Archbishop SERAPHIM.

There was a fair bit of real joy and hope with the election of our new Metropolitan. You can read more about him through the OCA website, but I can provide a few details. He is newly elevated to the episcopate (11 days ago) from Archimandrite of St. John of Shanghai monastery in California, and has spent the previous 14 years as a monastic. He is well known for his pastoral love and care. Importantly, he was the one sent by the Holy Synod last night to answer the really tough questions that people had - he carried himself very well, answered the questions, and left many feeling very positive about him.

That's enough for now... this was just supposed to be a little update for you all.

I remain, your servant

Bishop Jonah is the new Metropolitan!

He is the newest bishop, only recently elected to be the assistant in the Diocese of the South. I do not know much about him, but I am sure we will all hear more soon! Please pray for him as he takes on his new duties.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Further to Dn. Kurt's report

Seraphim Withdraws Name From Consideration

Eis polla eti despota! I know that none of us wishes to lose Vladika Seraphim from our archdiocese and I believe the whole Archdiocese will be glad that he has made his own wishes clear -- Mat. Donna


Archbishop Seraphim of Canada withdrew his name from consideration as the next Metropolitan of the OCA. In a printed statement left on the tables of the delegates without comment or explanation on the evening of the second day of the Council, the Archbishop wrote:

"To the delegates of the 15th All-American Council:

Six years ago, I was nominated as a candidate to be Metropolitan. The Lord showed His Will in that it did not happen. I was deeply grateful to God for this then, and remain so even now. Throughout the course of my life, I have tried to do everything or at least almost everything, out of obedience, and that includes all the responsibilities I have borne recently. They have been given, not sought. This recent experience in particular clarified many things for me. As the time has been approaching for this Council, my name has often been mentioned again in the same way. In response, I have felt the same way as I did before. There are many considerations invovled, but the two chief have been first the historic and present state of the Canadian Church, and second the fact I am a foreigner. This latter fact is often dismissed to my face, but it is a very real factor, more than one might think. I therefore have long been asking Canadians not to nominate me. But to make sure that I clarify matters, I am stating plainly at this time that I will not accept any such nomination. The head of the Orthodox Church in America must be an American. How can it be, for instance, that a non-American is the guarantor of the majority of the Chaplains in the armed forces of the USA? This is but one of the many factors, but it is significant. This action may seem to be subverting God's Will to some, but I am convinced otherwise, and I am resolute in this decision. Thank you for your attention to these words, and for you loving patience in Christ.

In asking your forgiveness,
I remain, the unworthy,
Archbishopof Ottawa, and of Canada

As promised...

Good day all.

Christ is in our midst!

I had indicated to some of you that I would try to post to Spruce Island while at the AAC, to try to keep you all in the loop. However, upon arrival I found out that Ancient Faith Radio wasn’t just podcasting (is that a verb?) snippets; they were podcasting vast portions. So, I’m not going to go into details – I will provide the quick summary for those too busy to listen to the entire podcasts.

Day 1

Nothing much to report. Travel all day. Arrived late in Pittsburgh. Connected with Fr. Lawrence upon arrival. Went to bed (quite sick actually – pray for me).

Day 2

Never seen so many ‘blackcoats’ in my life. Without a joke, at one point I called across a room for Fr. John Hainsworth… called “Father”… how silly… the room is filled with them. I’m comforted by the fact that I witnessed Fr. Lawrence do the same thing, calling after Fr. Justin… the look of chagrin on his face was priceless.

Session 1 – some emotion, but very well moderated. The presentation of the SIC Report was made to the council (roughly 700 people) by Bishop Benjamin. He did a wonderful job of presenting, and then moderating the question/comment period that followed. The candidness of the presentation, and the open style of Bishop Benjamin, was encouraging. There was a fair bit of emotion expressed, but it was expressed in sincere, respectful ways. He was frank about the shortcomings of the Synod. However, he said that a spirit of accountability, a willingness to ‘keep tabs on each other’, is a lesson that they have learned well.

Session 2 – there was a LOT more emotion expressed during this session, as it involved the recommendations of the SIC Report. Again, Bishop Benjamin did a very good job moderating. In addition, there was enough restraint among the participants that it did not break into open conflict – individual members often admonishing each other to restraint. Still… it was a lot of emotion and outright tension at parts… but nothing got ugly. Thanks be to God.

Vespers – very good sermon by Archimandrite Meletius, who is now the abbot of St. John of Shanghai monastery now that Bishop Jonah has been elevated to the episcopate.

Canadians ‘only’ meeting – Easily the highlight of the day. Archbishop Seraphim invited all Canadians to his suite for a light snack and discussion. After some introductions were made (very informally), His Eminence let all of us know that he had written a letter to the AAC, stating that he was not interested in becoming the next Metropolitan. He instructed us to consider nominating someone else, but that he was not giving us an obedience – “vote your heart” he said.

His announcement was greeted with a lot of emotion on both sides – those that want him as our next Metropolitan, and those that don’t want to lose him as our hierarch. A few passionate pleas and mini-speeches were made on the subject. However, the most moving endorsement came from Matushka Julianna Schmemann (yup… THE Matushka Schmemann), who has known Vladyka for many, many years, is very fond of him, and stated that she ‘adopted’ him as her son years ago.

I’ve never seen anything quite like it. The amount of respect she commands is impressive; she stands in her own right, and not in the shadow of her husband. In the short time that I had to observe her interact with various people, she seemed straightforward, heartfelt, and truly sincere – had a ‘brook no nonsense’ demeanour, while not being cold about it. It occurred to me, as I watched her rise to speak, that she is possibly the closest thing to a matriarch that the OCA has. She spoke clearly and forcefully about her endorsement of Vladyka as a person. She stated that he was the one person she knew who “served the church with his whole heart”, not just part of it. Whomever it is that she plans to nominate, she had the highest respect for him, and supported him completely. It was something else.

In the end, watching Vladyka prostrate himself before the mini-multitude of Canadians and ask forgiveness of us… I don’t have words. In spite of mistakes, errors in judgement, or outright wrongdoing… if these are the kind of men who lead us, then we will be fine. God is alive in His church.

I remain, your servant

Monday, November 10, 2008


Please keep all of the council delegates in your prayers as they travel to and from Pittsburgh, and during their deliberations. As you know, there are serious matters to deal with, including the election of a new Metropolitan.

Our members at the council:

  • Clergy delegate: Fr. Lawrence
  • Lay delegate: Andrea F.
  • Observer: Dn. Kurt
  • Observer: Vivian H.

Prayer to St Herman of Alaska

By Matushka Juliana Schmemann

St Herman, please protect our Church:
restore the peace, the purity, the love for the Lord, and for each other,
that is shadowed now, and is tempting our people.
You, great Saint, who planted firmly in America the Cross of Christ:
come back to us, and see to it that we have not shaken that Cross,
which you firmly planted.
Make it firm again; give us the truth, the light, and the trust, which is shaken.

Please, great Saint, intercede for us.
We are weak, and guilty.
We need the Lord to help us up, and forgive us;
and we must become truly humble,
but DARING, and courageous,
fully admit our wrongs, and repent.

Daily Podcasts from the All-American Council will appear on Ancient Faith Radio this week.
and LINKS to agenda & other important items

Friday, November 07, 2008

Hop the Virtual Ferry to Neighboring Islands in the Blogosphere

To facilitate discussion, information-sharing and neighborliness
here at Spruce Island, I have added a new blog feed to the sidebar. There you will see constantly updated info about new posts appearing on the blogs of several Spruce Islanders.

To get to our Virtual Ferry Dock and visit these blogs, scroll down below the picture of the bells in the sidebar to the right of these posts to the section titled "Blogs by Spruce Islanders"

If you want your blog included in this feed, please let me know. Any Spruce Islander with a blog is welcome to be added, but unless you let me know, I will assume you prefer not to have a link to your personal blog-island here. So far I've only added ones that I know are meant to be generally public or where the owners have posted links from Spruce Island recently.

Happy sailing!

update: Members currently in the blogroll

Peter Chattaway
Jenny H
Victoria J
Rhiannon G
David P
Fr. Lawrence (this is just a writing newsblog from Fr.'s website)

Note that the most recently updated blogs will come up to the top of the list automatically. Could be incentive to blog regularly!

Update again:

Elizabeth R's blog added.

I have also moved the Saplings blog and Sprucies in the Kitchen blog to this blogroll.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

by Natalia:

octobrer 2008, originally uploaded by simply victoria.