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The theological reflections of an Eastern Orthodox convert and seminarian
:: St Seraphim, OCA::
:: St Andrew, AA::
:: Orthodox Church of America::
[::..Blogs I Read..::]
:: Huw's Doxos::
:: James' Paradosis::
::Fr. Joseph's Orthodixie::
[::..Other Links..::]
:: St. Vladimir's
(current school)
:: Torrey::
:: Biola::
:: The Onion Dome::
:: Yahoo::
:: Dictionary::
:: Boundless Webzine::

:: Tuesday, April 25, 2006 ::

Chrismation: The Holy Spirit

Christ is risen!

While I had thought a whole lot about the theology and implications of baptism before I was baptized, I had forgotten to think about the second, often overlooked mystery of chrismation.

Chrismation is the reception of the Holy Spirit. It is the fulfillment of St. Paul’s promise that we as believers are temples of the Holy Spirit (I Cor 6:19). It is the personal Pentecost of the believer once he has been baptized into Christ’s death; each of us is literally going through the whole life of the Church in just a few minutes: we die, are buried, resurrected, and receive the Holy Spirit unto life eternal. One of the Persons of the Trinity – God – has taken up his dwelling in my heart, and I am a living church. Even better, as the Church is able to receive Him Whom the heavens cannot contain into her womb, so I am now able as a temple of God to receive into myself that same He Who cannot be contained. In other words, as I partake of the body and blood of Christ, I too become not only a living temple of the Holy Spirit, but a living chalice of Christ. The two Persons of the Trinity who have reveled themselves (Son and Spirit) both abide in me.

How then can I sin? How can I dare to besmirch the grace I have been given, and have been receiving daily? I would not disrespect a church or a chalice, so how do I disrespect my body? This only highlights the backwardness and brokenness of sin: it should be impossible. Yet we are perverse and haughty enough to disregard even the God who created us, and to defile the temple in which he abides which he purchased with his own blood. We continually show ourselves unworthy of the grace we have received, and yet we receive it anyway. God, in his mercy, continues to pour out his Spirit upon us and nourish us with Himself. Glory be to God!

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 10:22 AM on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 [+] ::

:: Monday, April 17, 2006 ::

I got baptized on Saturday, chrismated, and received the Eucharist for the first time.

In lieu of the many things I could say and will say in the future, I will encourage those who will soon be ending their own catechumenates with this: It’s more then worth it.

Have a blessed Holy Week!

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 11:58 AM on Monday, April 17, 2006 [+] ::

:: Tuesday, April 11, 2006 ::
I Don’t Care…And You Can’t Make Me

These last few weeks of Lent, I have been going to Confession (or whatever one calls it for a catechumen who isn’t receiving absolution). I remember my life confession: I was nervous and it was hard! Now, however, I have the opposite problem: confession is too easy. In short, I don’t care, and you can’t make me.

Most of you know me, and most of you know that I sin a lot. I do this, that, and the other thing. However, I have developed the insane (truly) ability to justify my sin to myself. “Well, everyone does that…” or “That’s not as bad as what he did…” or “It was just once…” or “I was tired…” My sins aren’t so bad. In fact, I’m a pretty good person…especially compared with her. I don’t need that much grace from God, ’cause hey, I got a pretty good bit of it in myself.

This deadly attitude ends up manifesting itself at the confessional. In a weirdly detached way, I can write my sins in all their details on a paper, and read that paper aloud in confession without feeling even embarrassment, much less compunction or repentance. In fact, what I dread most about my sin is not the fact that it is proud and damnable effrontery toward God, but that I have to read it aloud in front of the priest!

I think this is the definition of insanity. That which I should most abhor is that which does not even faze me. It makes me question basic things: If I really know and love the God who hates sin, why don’t I hate sin? How well do I know myself and the evil of which I am capable? Even more poignantly, how useful is confession without contrition? I am simply detachedly reading a list: why read it? I am not sorry for what I have done; I do not even know how to start becoming sorry. So, why confess? Aren’t I just damning myself more?

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 10:10 AM on Tuesday, April 11, 2006 [+] ::

:: Monday, April 10, 2006 ::
The Countdown Begins…

I am getting baptized in 5 days.

Perhaps if I keep saying it to myself, it will sink in. Every time I do think about it, however, I feel as if I have an intravenous line of caffeine going straight into my brain. It’s a little like sticking your tongue into an electrical outlet. Or jumping into Lake Tahoe in the winter.

Seriously, though, I am having the worst time focusing on anything this week, especially basic things like my prayer rule or being in church. My complacent (and thus sinful) half is telling me that I am crazy, making too big of a decision, jumping in too fast, and that I should just wait more. My other half (which I attribute to my guardian angel and/or patron, St. Seraphim) is saying that I have waited long enough, there is nothing else I need to do, and that to keep procrastinating is a sin. The fight between these two halves is enough to make anyone schitzo…[Oh. Wait. Nevermind.]

I have class, homework, a long drive home, and talking to my parents face-to-face to worry about; not to mention the end of Lent, Holy Week, and Pascha. I feel like a 5-year-old, who just wants to run home and say, “Stop looking at me!” Instead, I have to have everyone looking at me, saying quaint and nice things, and congratulating me.

So, the final days of my ‘freedom’ (slavery?) have begun. Please, pray for me. I need it.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 11:29 AM on Monday, April 10, 2006 [+] ::

:: Friday, April 07, 2006 ::
Fighting Like Christians

I don’t know how many of you are following the current issues in the OCA. For those of you who aren’t, this may not make sense. For those of you who wish to decimate me for my thus-expressed political loyalites, please don’t. For those of you who are aware of the OCA/DOW current exchanges, I ask you to consider the following:

While there are some who are watching this scandal develop from the outside and using it as an occasion to mock or deride the Church, I have found it to be perhaps one of the most encouraging ecclesial phenomena I have ever observed. In the current letters, I have found the Christian witness of the parties involved to be uplifting and reassuring to my own faith; rather then diminishing my confidence, this has in fact increased my respect and faith in the Church as a whole.

While I do not know the authority of the press releases I reference here, if they are accurate, they are incredibly refreshing. Firstly, no one is talking about splitting. Coming from a Protestant background, I have seen splits over (no joke) carpet color in a new building. The realization that we can fight and still remain unified reassures me that while this institution we call the Church has seen her fair share of rough water, it is guided by a Divine Pilot and will not soon be broken up.

Secondly, as I belong to the Diocese of the West, I find myself with a growing respect for His Grace, Bishop Tikhon. While I may disagree with his letters, language, or approach, he clearly has a high vision of what the Church is and how it ought to be operated. He is dedicated to preserving the right order of things in accordance with the Canons. From his writing, it is clear that he cares passionately about the course of the Church, and is not going to be persuaded to do anything against his conscience as our arch-pastor. While I am not necessarily agreeing with his claims, his very calling of Metropolitan into question with reference to the papacy shows that he is keeping a close watch on all things ecclesial. Under him, I have confidence that the Church will be preserved.

Thirdly, Metropolitan Herman has displayed incredible wisdom and humility. Not only did he show his pastoral concern during this Lenten season, but he realized that even in a letter dealing with financial issues that he as arch-pastor must show this parental care. More admirably, however, he took responsibility for the actions of the diocese. Since he is not a pope, but rather first-among-equals, he could have easily averted the blame, used rhetoric to cover up his own mistakes, or simply not apologized. Instead, even from his Metropolitan’s throne, he wrote with monkish humility, “I wish to state unequivocally that I take full responsibility for what may have happened during my service as Primate of the Church…If I have failed…I ask for your forgiveness and God’s guidance to enable me to undertake whatever corrective measures may still be necessary.” For anyone who still doubts, our Church is not an institution by the hands of men, but is truly the body of Christ. If this humility and compassion have not removed doubts, nothing will.

Yes, I have my eyes open, and I am aware of the scandal. Yes, I know that it is bad. But I have a newfound confidence that the grace of God is truly with our bishops, and more importantly, that “God is with us.”

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 12:30 PM on Friday, April 07, 2006 [+] ::

:: Sunday, April 02, 2006 ::
St. Vladimir’s: A Visitor’s Candid Report

I just got back from four days at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in New York, touring it as a potential graduate school. It is one of two schools to which I have been accepted, the other one being Catholic University of America. The following report is based on my impressions of the school; I know it is judgmental, but I feel as though this is justified.

Firstly, St Vladimir’s is unable to decide if it was a graduate school or a monastery, and so it has self-consciously settled with the title ‘seminary.’ This self-consciousness is obvious in many daily facets. That students are awakened by a bell, or that the dining facilities are called ‘the refectory,’ reflect the monastic side of the seminary. The high caliber academics and beautiful library reflect are more typical of a standard grad school. At least as a prospective student, I could feel an awareness of this same odd self-conscious balancing act; be it good or bad, it was there.

My second major reflection is the both to the caliber of academic content and the rather sad condition of the women’s dorms. I was almost sure that while the buildings on campus would be new and nice, the academics would be shoddy or sub-par. I was partially pleasantly surprised at the opposite: while one could certainly hope for better dorm situations, the classes seemed surprisingly rigorous.

So, now for the crux: Should I go there? I am still unsure, but I am not sure why I am. Partially, I fear loosing the wonderful community I have here at Torrey; partially, I have no idea what I would do next year if I did not go to grad school. One thing I am (thankfully) rather sure about is that I will not go to Catholic University. I am hesitant, however, because I generally feel very sure about these kind of decisions: I had no doubts about going to Biola, enrolling in Torrey, going to Oxford, living at Raphael House, &c. I find myself oddly confident about major decisions in my life; however, I am simply lacking that confidence in this decision. Part of that is probably exhaustion and stress (I haven’t been sleeping much, and I have three midterms to make-up this week), but I would appreciate your prayers that God will lead me as I make major life decisions.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 8:51 PM on Sunday, April 02, 2006 [+] ::

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