October 10, 2012

“…and there was calm”

Both the epistle and gospel today highlight the peace of Christ. In prison for his faith, St Paul nevertheless remains peaceful and joyful. He refuses to vilify even those who preach Christ out of rivalry with him because he sees the bigger picture of God’s eternal purposes. Whatever their motives, God will be the judge, and “in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in that I rejoice” (Phil 1:18). And in the gospel, the disciples are speechless when Christ stills the storm and stills their fears. “Who then is this, that he commands even wind and water and they obey him?” (Luke 8:25).

Today we celebrate the memory of the famous Russian starets, Saint Ambrose of Optina. He had some very practical advice about the Psalms to pray when one is attacked by fears and enemies—both human and spiritual—and needs God’s help to restore inner calm. The Psalm numbers are those found in most Bibles according to Hebrew numbering, while those in brackets are the Greek numbering.

Hope in God’s mercy and help, and believe that the Lord is powerful to deliver you from all attacks both human and demonic. It is written in the Psalms: The Lord scattereth the plans of the heathens, He setteth aside the devices of the peoples… But the counsel of the Lord abideth unto eternity (Ps. 33 [32]:10–11).

I am writing down some Psalms for you that St. David prayed when he was being persecuted by his enemies: numbers 3, 54 [53], 59 [58], and 143 [142]. Choose the appropriate words from these Psalms for yourself, and read them often, turning to God with faith and humility. When you are being warred against by despondency, or some sorrow beyond your control, read Psalm 101.

The Holy Synod and a new Metropolitan

Synod Meeting

At yesterday’s session of the Holy Synod, Protodeacon Peter Danilchick was invited to facilitate a 2-hour discussion among the bishops about their hopes, expectations and aims for the approaching era of working with a new metropolitan. It was a wide-ranging and fruitful conversation that included the OCA officers as well, and here are a few notes on some of the ideas expressed.

What would you like to give and receive as part of the Holy Synod?

Encouragement, sense of responsibility, affection, benefits of mutual experience and learning, wisdom, discernment and counsel, respect for differences of opinion, clarify respective roles of the Metropolitan and the Holy Synod (beyond the Statutes), restoring peace and quiet calm to life of the OCA as a whole in order to focus on “the one thing necessary: the Gospel.”

What vision do you have for the new metropolitan?

He should be “the sign of our unity,” fully engaged with his brother bishops in a dialogue going both ways. The bishops and the Metropolitan Council are now working together effectively, and that needs to be continued and strengthened. He should take a conciliar approach to positions and decisions and devote time to review the past Synod documents, minutes and decrees. He needs to live at or near the Chancery, take an interest in the staff and work closely with them.

The Holy Synod meetings continue today with the reports from the officers and on external affairs and legal matters.