Judge, O Lord, with those who wrong me; fight against those who fight against me!
Take hold of your weapon and shield, and arise for my help!
(Psalm 35: 1-2 (LXX))
These verses are sung as one of the prokeimena at the vespers of Great and Holy Friday as we remember the suffering of Christ in the face of injustice. The entire psalm is read at the Third Hour on Holy Friday. Humanly speaking, no one came to His aid and no one fought for Him. Even God seemed far away: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” And yet He died saying, “Into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”
In the end, God did work victory over death, but not before the Lord went through His passion. Theologically, this makes sense: the Lord had to go through the worst of human suffering in order to redeem it from within, as a human being. But when we, or our loved ones, are going through suffering it’s not always, or even ever, clear why this is so. At those times we simply trust that “Thou hast seen, O Lord” (35:22) and that He, in His time, will raise us up as well.
Tonight Father Leonid Kishkovsky will be attending a special screening of a film at the Russian Consulate in New York City. “The Horde” (Orda, 2012) depicts the terrible suffering inflicted on Russia by the Tatar (Mongol) “Golden Horde.” The film (available on DVD with English subtitles) recounts how Saint Alexis, the Metropolitan of Moscow and Wonderworker of All Russia, healed the Tatar Queen Taidula, Khan Jani-Beg’s mother, from blindness, in 1357. Saint Alexis is commemorated on February 12th, and his life can be found here.
His Beatitude drove to Pennsylvania yesterday to spend Thanksgiving with his family. In the last week he has been getting back to emails and office work but is still recovering from a bad bout of pneumonia.
On Thanksgiving Day, the Saint Sergius Chapel community will gather for a thanksgiving prayer service and the akathist “Glory to God for All Things.” The author was Metropolitan Tryphon (Turkestanov, +1934). A copy of this hymn, in samizdat form, was amongst the belongings of the priest Grigori Petrov, who died in a Soviet prison camp in 1940, and has often been attributed to him.
“Glory to God for All Things” are the words of Saint John Chrysostom as he was dying in exile (407.)
The Chancery offices will be close early today for the Thanksgiving holiday and will reopen on Monday.
Day 3: Recruiting 300 Stewards for the Orthodox Church in America
On this Thanksgiving weekend it’s especially appropriate to highlight the work of the Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid. This is one of the ministries funded by the Stewards of the OCA. Take a look at their section of the website and the parish ministry resources they’ve produced over the years, especially The Resource Handbook. The department offers consultation to parishes in a number of areas, including “Compassion in Action,” Disabilities, Faith Community Nursing, Homeless Shelters, Prison Ministry and Sanctity of Life.
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My message for the start of the Stewardship Campaign in case you missed it.
This Monday of Thanksgiving Week is the first day of a three-week campaign to enlist 300 Stewards for the Orthodox Church in America. We’ll end on St Herman’s Day, December 13th.
This is an experiment that has been in preparation for some time, and we’ve quietly been recruiting since last February.
Metropolitan Tikhon joined.
The bishops of the Holy Synod joined.
The men and women of the Metropolitan Council joined.
The Chancery officers and staff joined.
And now we’re asking you to join.
Not everyone will want to or be able to. Some will have mixed feelings. There are lots of other vital parish, diocesan, inter-Orthodox, charitable and humanitarian causes that need your support.
But if you believe that the Orthodox Church in America is much more than just a collection of parishes and dioceses.
If you believe that we share a common vision of what the Orthodox Church can be to serve the people of North America.
If you believe that the mission and ministries of the OCA can make a difference in people’s lives.
Then I hope you will consider taking the step to add your name to the band of Stewards who feel the same way.