October 15, 2013

Psalm 19

The heavens are telling the glory of God; 
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.

Their proclamation has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the universe.

Psalm 19:1,2a, 4 (Pentecost, 1st Antiphon)

The feast of Pentecost marks the beginning of the apostolic proclamation of the Good News of Christ, His death and resurrection and what this means for the life of the world. So it is no surprise that the Church hears this in Psalm 19.

The psalm also gets at the root of personal spiritual life by asking a question: “But who can discern his errors?” We are limited in our insight. No matter how faithfully we seek to follow Christ we all have blind spots. And so we pray, “Clear thou me from hidden faults.”

Saint Augustine commented on this, but note that the Latin version he used adds, “And from the faults of others preserve your servant.”

“Cleanse me, O Lord, from my secret faults.” From the lusts which lie hidden in me, cleanse me, O Lord. “And from the” faults “of others preserve Your servant”. Let me not be led astray by others. For he is not a prey to the faults of others, who is cleansed from his own. Preserve therefore from the lusts of others, not the proud man, and him who would be his own master, but, Your servant. “If they get not the dominion over me, then shall I be undefiled.” If neither my own secret sins, nor those of others, get the dominion over me, then shall I be undefiled. For there is no third source of sin, but one’s own secret sin, by which the devil fell, and another’s sin, by which man is seduced, so as by consenting to make it his own. “And I shall be cleansed from the great offense.” What but pride? For there is none greater than apostasy from God, which is “the beginning of the pride of man.” (Sirach 10:12) And he shall indeed be undefiled, who is free from this offense also…

Holy Synod Meeting Begins Today

The Holy Synod begins its Fall meeting today. One of the issues that faces most of the dioceses is how to transition from a dues-paying, assessment-based, “club member” mentality to a stewardship and proportional giving way of life. Yesterday Treasurer Melanie Ringa was in the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania to meet with his grace, Bishop Mark, Father John Kowalczyk (Chancellor), Father Raymond Browne (Treasurer), Father Nicholas Solak (Dean), and Father James Wederle (Dean) in the Diocesan Center in South Canaan.  This was a follow-up to the annual OCA-wide Chancellor/Treasurers meetings. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss specifics about the Diocese of Eastern PA’s transition to ”tithing” and proportional giving.  Melanie told me that “We spoke very frankly about the challenges the diocese is facing in terms of aging population, declining census and therefore decreasing financial resources.” In spite of these challenges, “All were positive about the direction of the OCA and their desire to work more closely with the Central Administration and one another as we transition to a tithing or proportional giving methodology.”

Yesterday evening Father Leonid Kishkovsky met with the delegation that will represent the OCA at the Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan, South Korea at the end of this month: Bishop Alexander (Golitsin) of Toledo, Professor Paul Meyendorff and Cindy Davis. The Assembly meets every seven years. All of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches will be represented there (except the Bulgarian and Georgian Orthodox Churches) and will have opportunities to meet with each other in addition to participating in the plenary sessions with other Christians from around the world.

Coptic Church
Bombed Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo

One of the priority topics at the Assembly in Korea will be the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere. This evening Bishop David of the Coptic Orthodox Church will join the Holy Synod for dinner and to update the bishops on the Church’s situation in Egypt. Amnesty International has just come out with a report on the persecution of Christians in Egypt and said “It is deeply disturbing that the Christian community across Egypt was singled out for revenge attacks…” See: http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/egypt-christians-scapegoated-after-dispersal-pro-morsi-sit-ins-2013-10-09.