May 13, 2014

Psalm 99

Extol the Lord our God; worship at His footstool, for it is holy! The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble!
(Psalm 99:5, 1: Prokeimenon, Elevation of the Cross and Sunday of the Cross)

Moses and Aaron were among His priests; Samuel also was among those who called on His name. They cried to the Lord, and He answered them.
(Psalm 99:6: Alleluia, Sunday of Orthodoxy)

Psalm 99 is a prayer celebrating the Lord’s kingship and enthronement, but in stark contrast with the power, pomp and pride of earthly kingship. Indeed, in Orthodox services the “footstool” mentioned here is understood as the Cross, and Jesus is the crucified King. He is “the king of glory”—an inscription found on many Orthodox depictions of the Cross—when He is giving Himself up for His people. 

Notice too the beautiful parallel in verses 6 and 7:

Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
 Samuel also was among those who called on his name.
 They cried to the Lord, and he answered them.

He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud;
 they kept his testimonies, and the statutes that he gave them.

They call, He hears. He calls, they hear. There is a constant back and forth of listening and responding between God and his faithful servants. The story of young Samuel is especially touching (see 1 Sam 3). From childhood he learns to from the priest Eli how to recognize, listen and respond to the voice of God. “You shall say, ‘Speak Lord, for thy servant hears’” (1 Sam 3:9).

Bishop Mark’s Installation

Bp Mark Maymon
Bishop Mark awaits formal installation as Bishop of Philadelphia
Bp Mark Maymon
Metropolitan Tikhon delivers episcopal staff to Bishop Mark.

Friday and Saturday, Father Eric, Barry Miganko and I joined many others at Saint Stephen’s Cathedral for Bishop Mark’s installation as Bishop of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania. Metropolitan Tikhon presided, concelebrating with Archbishop Nathaniel, Archbishop Melchisedek, Bishop Michael and, of course, Bishop Mark. The Roman Catholic Dioceses of Scranton and Philadelphia were represented by two bishops and other clergy.

In his sermon at the Liturgy, Bishop Mark focused on the high calling Christ gave his disciples to love one another. “If we would let this simple but powerful phrase preside our church will be strong.” When love grows cold, then ego, pride and jealousy take over and divisions result. We are very good at discerning the faults of others but that kind of discernment is not one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Words that belittle, tear down and destroy need to be replaced by words that edify, strengthen and build up. “Love comes first in our church life, and foremost love for Christ.”

Metropolitan Tikhon gave Bishop Mark the bishop’s staff he himself had been given nine years ago when he was installed as Bishop of Philadelphia. He exhorted Bishop Mark to carry out the apostolic work of witness to Christ and caring for the diocese “with joy, peace and trust in God.” 

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OCA Treasurer Melanie Ringa was meant to be part of the celebrations in Philadelphia, but her father, Kuzma Leschak, 89, took a turn for the worse and fell asleep in the Lord on Friday. His funeral was yesterday in Jermyn, Pennsylvania at St Michael’s Church in Monday. Father Eric Tosi, Barry Migyanko and I drove out for the service, presided by Father John Kowalczyk in the presence of Metropolitan Tikhon and Bishop Mark. Mr Leschak’s parents were founders of the parish in the early 1900’s, and he himself was a life-long and active member of the church. May his memory be eternal! And may our Lord comfort Melanie, her mother Irene and their whole family.