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Catechumen: One who is learning the principles of Christianity.
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The theological reflections of an Eastern Orthodox convert and seminarian
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:: St. Vladimir's
(current school)
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:: Monday, January 29, 2007 ::


Term has started again, bringing with it all the daily craziness.

A regular reader recently asked me why I never post about school (specifically). I assure you, it is not because there is not enough food for thought thrown around this particular ivory tower! Rather, I do not want to post negative, or even questionable/gossip-like information about anyone or anything. I’m a student, right? And when all is said and done, I think most students love their alma maters, although they all have their ups and downs while in them. I do not want my own words to come back and bite me later, so I am not too keen to post on the goings-on around here at St. Vladimirs.

So, that’s why I don’t post a lot about school. And school is why I don’t post a lot in general…

But anyway, back to Hebrew…then Greek…then Canon Law…then…then…

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 1:57 PM on Monday, January 29, 2007 [+] ::

:: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 ::
Why Missions?
An essay written for an application…

“Go ye therefore…” There aren’t two ways about it. Missions are one of the most basic features of the Church, the importance of which springs both from the divine command and from the catholic nature of the Church.
The heart of the Gospel is a call to missions. God himself had one Son, and he was a missionary, coming from heaven to a cave to bring salvation. To receive him is to catch a spark of this divine and condescending love, which inflames within our hearts a similar love: it is this love which inspires us to run to those that sit in darkness, to proclaim release to the captives, and to give sight to the blind. The Gospel is this condescending love, this compassion for those who are like sheep without a shepherd; it is not a weapon whereby we can stand in judgment of them, but rather a light yoke by which we can share in their sufferings and thereby find both our salvation and theirs. The very nature of the Gospel is the desire to reach all men with salvation. Missions is the heart of the Gospel and the heart of the Church.
Should missions then be all about preaching the Gospel to men? Yes, but perhaps we need not use words, nor need we preach only to those who have never heard. Missions not only to spread Christianity, but also strengthen and to show the solidarity of the catholic Church with a struggling local community. This solidarity can reach even beyond the bounds of ‘religion;’ it is the restoration of human dignity to those who have forgotten their own humanity; it is the distribution of medicines and aid to those who suffer most grievous diseases; it is the encouragement of children in a society where negative influences abound. It is recognizing of the ikon of God in our neighbors, and showing solidarity with them as fellow human beings. By feeding, clothing, and visiting those in God’s image, not only do we save ourselves, but we are the hands and feet of Christ to a world that desperately needs him. Missions are about helping humanity, about saving souls.
So, I want to go. As a student-theologian interested in a teaching career in academia, I am considering my own position in the world of foreign missions. I would not only use this experience to determine if I were able to do overseas missions work, but also as a basis for further theological academic reflection. If I realize my goal as a theology professor, I see myself in a unique position: teaching students who live “in their heads” to realize their hearts. Having the experience of an overseas missions trip would give me the ability to convey from experience the need for overseas missions to a group that otherwise might not realize their significance. Not only do I see this trip as a way to aid my own decision into missions, but also to give me the experience to speak first-hand about mission trips to academicians.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 4:34 PM on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 [+] ::

:: Monday, January 08, 2007 ::
Throwing Water in Church

After an all-night vigil on Friday “night” (until 1:15AM on Saturday morning!) for Theophany, we did the Great Blessing of the Waters on Sunday morning after Liturgy. In other words, we threw water all over the church.

I must say that I was not the only one laughing with child-like glee as our somber-looking Russian priests proceeded to douse us quite well with copious amounts of newly-blessed water. Anyone who has ever watched children splash in puddles or run sprite-like in falling rain can testify that there is something fresh and rejuvenating in the sprinkling of water: indeed, it is appropriate that we as Christians are reborn in the water of baptism. Life, childhood, and joyful giggles seemed appropriate from even the most aged during Sunday’s merry ceremony of blessing.

There is something that feels so right about the blessing of water. Faith has a tendency to become esoteric and detached, but to bless something as basic as water re-grounds the reality of faith as an everyday event. That which is the most fundamental element of life has reached its fulfillment and realized its purpose in the blessing it has received from God. To “plain” water is added the fire of the godhead of Christ: our own chrismation grants us the fire of the Spirit after our baptism. Invisibly, mysteriously, yet powerfully, elemental nature itself is changed by Christ’s baptism. And we get to drink it, be splashed by it, rejoice in it, like children, free and unhindered. God has again condescended to sanctify our lives: in its small way, this is our salvation.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 7:26 PM on Monday, January 08, 2007 [+] ::

:: Sunday, January 07, 2007 ::
For those of you living in Sonoma County and following the local news, this was a response to the full-page ad in today's paper in which the pastor of the largest local Episcopal Church condemns another local church, St. John's, for breaking communion over issues of homosexuality. The majority of the letter is about the need to accept homosexuals in the Episcopal Church today. A shortened, 200 word version of this was sent to the local paper for publishing...let's see if they do it!

Dear Reverend,

In many ways, I agree strongly with your letter. Love and compassion are the distinguishing marks of a Christian. It is precisely this love and compassion that drives a man --- nay, God himself ---to lay aside his dignity and take the form of a bondservant, condescending to be born in a cave, as we have celebrated this Christmas season. God does not respect our sins --- nor must we respect the sins of others --- and yet in his great love for mankind, he gives us the freedom to choose to spit in his face and crucify him. This freedom is not divine respect and tolerance for sin, but rather respect for the image of God within us giving us such god-like freedom. Sin is a horrible disease running rampant throughout humanity. Aside from doubting that this disease of sin has left anyone a “good” person, I cannot agree with you more when you say that we must not “meekly stand by while yet another movement of intolerance seeks to deprive good people of their common humanity.” Our very humanity, the image of God within us, is being mauled and misshapen by this horrible “movement” of sin. Yet instead of embracing this tendency toward perversion which we find welling up within us, we are called to repent and learn to loath our own filth and wretchedness, allowing this knowledge to draw us ever closer to the feet of Christ: again, you are absolutely right here in saying that there is “no essential difference between gay and straight,” male and female, slave or free. We are all hopelessly and equally entangled in the nets of our own making, sinking in the mire of sin. And yet slowly, this Love and Compassion, this Person who is the Way and Truth, draws us out and refashions us back into his image, taking away our perversion and propensity to turn back toward the dirt of our former ways. As we draw near to him, he draws near to us: this is our salvation. And it is specifically this salvation that enflames within our hearts a burning desire that all men be saved: and for this reason, we weep with Love and Compassion when they see men still wallowing in the mire of their wretchedness. I cannot help but tell my friends, lovingly, compassionately, out of a pure desire for their salvation, that they are drowning, sinking, and will die if they do not turn from their wickedness and live. Rather then denying sin, making excuses for it, or using the false veneer of “freedom” to justify it, we should turn to our kind-hearted Lord, who desires not the death of a sinner, and with weeping and groaning, repent and be saved.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 10:46 PM on Sunday, January 07, 2007 [+] ::

:: Friday, January 05, 2007 ::
I’m baaaaak

A two week laptop-less vacation…does it get any better?

Saying Goodbye

On Saturday night, we danced. First it was square dance, then fancy Greek dance, then random attempts at laughingly spinning across the room. He did some cool moonwalk type stuff. It was funny. Then we hugged goodbye.

On Sunday morning at the liturgy, he approached the chalice. “The Novice Euphrosymos receives…” I knew it was coming, but a lump involuntarily arose in my throat. Saying goodbye at the end of the conference again made my eyes go blurry.

There is a bittersweetness to monasticism. My friend, a good man, has been taken from us; we can no longer ‘mess’ with him, tease him, greet him with hugs, laugh with him, and wake up early to walk to the monastery together. In another way, he has done what he needed to do; it is no surprise that he answered this call, he is at a good monastery, and the life he has chosen is one that suits him well. We talked a lot about it at the conference, about the world he was leaving and the world he was entering into. The decision was for his salvation, and yet there is still a sadness I cannot help but feel.

So, pray for the new Novice Euphrosymos and the friends and family he has left behind.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 7:38 PM on Friday, January 05, 2007 [+] ::

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