February 13, 2013

Letting Go of Resentments

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mark 11:25-26)

St. Nikolai Velimirovic
St Nikolai Velimirovich

Saint Nikolai Velimirovich (1881-1956) was bishop of Ohrid and of Zhicha in Serbia. He suffered under the Nazis (including imprisonment and torture in Dachau) and after WWII moved to the United States, spending his final years at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery and Seminary, where he was Rector. When I served Holy Trinity Church in Rahway, NJ (1987-94), the late Father Dragoliub Sokic, a retired Serbian priest who had been Bishop Nikolai’s last secretary often came to the Liturgy with his wife Olga. He spoke warmly of this deep man who actively practiced love of enemies and letting go of offenses.

Saint Nikolai was an influential and prolific theological writer and preacher and was canonized by the Serbian Orthodox Church in 2003. In addition to his Prologue from Ohrid, a collection of saints’ lives and meditations, he wrote scores of prayers and poems, including this one.

(Saint Nikolai Velimirovich)

That God may forgive us, let us forgive men.
We are all on this earth as temporary guests.
Prolonged fasting and prayer is in vain
Without forgiveness and true mercy.
God is the true Physician; sins are leprosy.
Whomever God cleanses, God also glorifies.
Every merciful act of men, God rewards with mercy.
He who returns sin with sin perishes without mercy.
Pus is not cleansed by pus from infected wounds,
Neither is the darkness of the dungeon dispelled by darkness,
But pure balm heals the festering wound,
And light disperses the darkness of the dungeon.
To the seriously wounded, mercy is like a balm;
As if seeing a torch dispersing the darkness, everyone rejoices in mercy.
The madman says, “I have no need of mercy!”
But when he is overcome by misery, he cries out for mercy!
Men bathe in the mercy of God,
And that mercy of God wakens us to life!
That God may forgive us, let us forgive men,
We are all on this earth as temporary guests.

Alternative Universes

On Monday evening the Saint Tikhon’s Seminary Board met in a conference call for two hours to discuss matters related to making a smooth transition for the school in the aftermath of Father Alexander Atty’s resignation as Dean owing to his poor health. As Chancellor I have the privilege of being an ex officio board member of all three OCA seminaries. I was to be in lower Manhattan that evening and Father Christopher Calin said I could come to Holy Protection Cathedral on 2nd Street and sit in the parish library as a base for the conference call.

Tiny Hazard
Tiny Hazard

Then for something completely different, after the call about the seminary ended at 9:00 pm I walked with my wife Denise to Rockwood Music Hall, a few blocks away at the corner of Houston and Allen Streets. My son Anthony (on synthesizer and laptop) is in an experimental-alternative-electronic rock group named Tiny Hazard that was launching their first album at 10:00. The club was packed with twenty-somethings, plus a few parents and relatives. The music was good, the atmosphere electric (no pun intended) and I was reminded how we all live in several alternative universes at the same time.

And yes, a shameless plug, Tiny Hazard’s music can be found online.