September 10, 2013

The Lord hears me when I call to Him…
When I called, the God of righteousness heard me.
(Psalm 4:3,1)
(Monday evening prokeimenon)

Many of the Psalms, like this one, are prayers for deliverance from personal enemies. Biblical writers aren’t paranoid conspiracy spinners who see enemies behind every bush. But they also aren’t shy about the ugly truth that much distress in daily life is personal: hurtful words and actions from people who don’t have our good at heart. Or, more likely, who see themselves as serving some greater good and view our distress as collateral damage in an otherwise worthy cause. Bullies are like that, and there is a lot of bullying in schools, homes, workplaces and even churches. It’s not just on the school playground: more than 50% of Americans report being bullied at work sometime in their career. Some of the patterns of those who bully at work include:

  • Verbal abuse and public humiliation
  • Constant intimidation
  • Questioning your adequacy and commitment
  • Intruding on your privacy
  • Undermining your work
  • Impeding your success
  • Spreading rumors about you
  • Isolating you

But whatever the place or the precise manifestation, bullying makes you feel bad about yourself. And bullying is perpetrated by people who put you down in order to pump themselves up.

You can find lots of advice online about how to stand up to bullies, but in all distress from “enemies” we can take comfort that, “The Lord hears me when I call to Him.” When we are feeling oppressed and closed-in, the Lord “gives me room.” And if the bully seems to win the day and prosper, we take refuge in the inner gift that “Thou hast put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.”

But above all—and this is a “hard saying”—we are called to follow Christ and love the very person who gives us the most distress. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt 5:44).

The last few days

St sergius Chapel
Nativity of the Mother of God, St Sergius Chapel (Metropolitan Tikhon, Fr Eric Tosi, Protodeacon Joseph Matusiak)

Metropolitan Tikhon returned Saturday night from the congress of the Romanian Episcopate at the Vatra in Michigan. He was with us in Saint Sergius Chapel for the Nativity of the Mother of God on Sunday morning, and then returned to the airport that evening to fly to France to join his family at the bedside of his 106-year-old grandmother (Marie-Hélène Apollonia) in what appear to be her last days.

Deacon Aram Sarkisian (l), Alexis Liberovsky (r)

Archivist Alexis Liberovsky welcomed a PhD student doing research in the OCA archives. Aram Sarkisian, a deacon in the Armenian church, is a doctoral student in American history at Northwestern University. He is studying the experience of Russian-Americans in the immediate aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution (1917-1924), and is especially interested in anti-communism during this period and how this played out in legal disputes over property at that time.