October 19, 2012

Straining Forward

“…Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14)

The longer I am a priest the more I admire those faithful clergy and lay people who have served the church and stuck it out through good times and bad. That’s what Saint Paul is talking about, and that’s also what the Prophet Joel stood for: faithfulness to God, and God’s faithfulness to us, through the dark times and the bright times. We read from Joel at the start of Great Lent as we darken our churches, begin fasting and think about how far we are from the life God would have us lead. “Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord weep and say, ‘Spare thy people, O Lord’” (Joel 2:17). But we also turn to Joel at Pentecost, when the church is bright with green vestments, branches and anticipation of the Holy Spirit. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28).

We need perseverance to keep going, not just surviving and going through the motions, “white-knuckling it,” but even flourishing as we “strain forward.” And that is possible if we keep our eyes fixed on Christ and his promises. “I look for—I look forward to, I long for—the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” We can grow in faith if we say these words of the creed with faith. May God give us the courage to persevere in our service—whatever it is—filled with hope and joy and faith that in His good time He will fulfill all his promises for His Church and His people. “The threshing floors will be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will restore to you the years which the swarming locust has eaten…” (Joel 1:24-25).

Miscellaneous Good News

Bishop Mark in Minneapolis
Bishop Mark, Father Andrew Morbey, clergy and the church school of Saint Mary’s, Minneapolis.

Over the last weekend Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Minneapolis celebrated its founding 125 years ago. Their first pastor was Saint Alexis Toth, who served there 1889-1893. Bishop Mark of Baltimore joined Father Andrew Morbey (Dean), the clergy and the faithful for the celebrations. Saint Mary’s has played a key role in the history of the Orthodox Church in America. For more on the parish, it’s history and the 125th anniversary see their website.

This coming weekend the monasteries of New Skete, in Cambridge, New York will be having a “Come and See” Weekend for seekers of monastic life. For information about this event and the extraordinary work and life of the communities for men, women and “companions,” please take a look at their website.

Greg Sulich, Administrative Assistant at the Chancery, is responsible for processing delegate and observer registrations for the approaching All-American Council. Yesterday he informed us that we passed the 500 mark. So, despite some early worries it looks like the church will be full for the election a new metropolitan.

Correction: Alexis Liberovsky emailed me from Moscow to say that Archimandrite Alexander (Pihach) was met at the airport by the deacon and starosta (parish warden) from St. Catherine’s along with a representative of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate. “I could not go to the airport, as until yesterday for 10 days, I was occupied from morning into the evening with the archival courses here.” We look forward to Alex’s return this coming Tuesday.