Dearly beloved in Christ:
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Forgive my absence again today; I underwent another eye surgery on Friday, and the surgeon forbade me to return to work for a week. (The surgery was to remove the silicon gel from my eye.)
Today (January 27) is the feast of the translation of the relics of St. John Chrysostom. We are blessed to have some of his relics in our parish, which we bring out in procession every Pascha during the singing of his tropar at Paschal Matins. I wanted to speak to you about the words he uttered as he lay dying. You can read them for yourself, for they are written on the ‘west’ wall of the church, under his icon. As you see, he said, “Glory to God for all things!”
St. John’s success had attracted envy in very high and powerful circles, and these powerful men set about to destroy him. He had been lied about, persecuted by bishops, condemned unjustly by church courts, and driven into exile far from his beloved Constantinopolitan flock by the Empress. He appealed to other leaders and bishops in the Church worldwide for justice, but to no avail. When he continued to exert a wide influence even from exile through his letters, he was driven even further out into more remote exile, and forced to travel in winter through terrible lands despite his advanced age and his frail health. Worn out, battered, sick and exhausted, he died far his native lands, disgraced and defeated. And his last words were, “Glory to God for all things!”
I deliberately chose St. John’s icon and his last words for our west wall, because I wanted his last words to be the last thing we see every time we leave the Church and go out into the world. For the world will batter us. It will treat us harshly and unjustly. It will knock us about and bruise us. And when we see evil apparently unjudged and triumphant, it is easy to become discouraged. But St. John Chrysostom and his life urge us to courage. For Christ will turn all that we endure for truth into glory for us. St. John knew well the words of St. Paul, who wrote that nothing—neither death nor life, nor anything else in all creation— will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. No suffering can separate us from Him, and so in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. Whatever the world has in store for us when we leave the Church, we can rely on God’s conquering love and be certain of our final victory. May St. John’s final words, written under his icon, be written over our life: “Glory to God for all things!”
God bless you all.
All my love in the Lord,
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Dearly beloved in Christ:
Friday, January 25, 2008
thank you all for your prayers. I'll see you at church, if I don't come down with the cold that is threatening me...;-)
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
"Natural burial" really is mostly what we Orthodox have always preferred to do, excepting that we do have a churchyard with headstones rather than trees (and in fact, here in the Lower Mainland, I think we mostly have to make do with general cemeteries rather than a parish churchyard attached to the church.) In some countries, there were/are wooden crosses rather than stones; and often, after decomposition, bones are dug up and removed to an ossuary so the grave can be reused. This is how some saints have been discovered to be incorrupt after death.
That seems bizarre to us in our death-denying, mechanistic culture. We need to remember that for most of history, this was just normal.
What left me aghast was the numbers cited on the TV report: apparently some NINETY PER CENT of British Columbian deceased are dispatched by means of cremation, a practice that is abhorred by the Orthodox church and only reluctantly permitted in jurisdictions where it is compulsory, such as Japan, or in case of an epidemic or disaster.
These articles on the Natural Burial site explode the concept that cremation is good for the environment, and describe how conventional burial is also bad. A summary of how cremation is actually done is found here.
Here is an article by the late Fr. Victor Sokolov (formerly of Holy Resurrection Vancouver) about Orthodox funeral practice.
Lots to think about. Is there in our future here the possibility of the Orthodox getting together to get our own burial ground somewhere not too far out of town, where we can do an Orthodox version of "natural burial"? Unless I am mistaken, as of now, most local authorities here in BC require either the conventional embalming or cremation. At the least, perhaps some of us should be thinking of getting together and buying a bunch of plots in some Fraser Valley Cemetery so that we can have an 'Orthodox area' where we can bless the graves together, even if we must still have conventional burial. I think the Greeks do have a "Greek section" in one or two of the Vancouver area cemeteries.
Any thoughts, anyone? We are such a young parish, we have done only a handful of funerals, most of those for non-members, over the 20 plus years we have been here. But unless the Lord comes, we will all face death one day. I think now is the time to start considering these very practical possibilities. Ideas?
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
Therefore the new schedule for Feast of the Meeting will be :
Saturday February 2nd 9 AM-- Divine Liturgy
no matins before. Father & probably many other people will shortly thereafter have to head for the wedding venue, so I think perhaps there will not be much of an official meal-- we will have to sort it out on that day.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
This is David,
Laurenn and I are getting married. (WOOHOO!)
since you are a part of our church family, you are all invited to the ceremony, which will be at
7838 Canada Way, at Archangel Michael Serbian Orthodox Church, at 12:30 pm on Feb 2nd.
a short standing reception will follow.
I miss you all,