Volume 4, Number 1

January 22, 2013

Theme: “Why Am I Still Here? Reflections by Those who Remained in the Church?”

Articles:

“What Can Separate us from the Love of Christ”

by His Grace, Bishop Michael

It All Comes Down to Faith

by Liz Korba

Look to the Bright Light

by Father Peter Paproski

Unabashedly Romantic

by Alexandra Morbey

Here for the Memory

by Deacon Jason Ketz

 

More information about the authors and contributors is available here.


“What Can Separate us From the Love of Christ?”

January 22, 2013

by His Grace, Bishop Michael of New York

I grew up in Binghamton, New York, in a parish where the church was the center of my life. I served as an altar boy and went to the Church School, which was huge! We had a teenage Bible Study group; the church had a basketball team (which I was not very good at). I ran the parish library. We had altar boy practice every Saturday – we sang the Liturgy and learned about serving the services – there were as many as 36 altar boys at a time! So, almost every weekend, I was in church for Saturday Liturgy, Vespers, Matins, and Sunday Liturgy… plus holy days, baptisms, weddings, funerals and everything else that came with life in the Church.

His Grace's home parish

His Grace’s home parish

After high school, I went to college nearby and lived at home. I never had the problem of wondering, “What do I do when I’m on my own?” I worked out my class schedule so I could be at the Liturgy during the week when there was one. Church was the place to be.

I loved being in church, and I loved what I was doing in church – especially serving in the Altar and learning about the Faith. So it was only logical for me to want to become an imitation of my parish priest, Fr. Stephen Dutko of blessed memory, so that I could have, and give, that same kind of experience. I wanted to be like Father Stephen.

And so I did. I went to seminary right after college. I got married and ordained at 22 years old. I was assigned to my first parish, Saints Peter and Paul Church in Homer City, PA, and I was raring to go.

Then it all changed. After 29 days of marriage, my wife and I were in a car accident. She was killed instantly. I was in the hospital – in a coma. I came out months later, confused and bitter, guilt ridden and doubting. I was feeling all those kinds of things that a person would feel in that horrific situation. Why did God let this happen? It had to be somebody’s fault. All the confusion, all the anger, definitely made me think about not being a priest anymore.

However, I couldn’t conceive of not serving at the Altar. I could not conceive of living my life outside of that experience that I had had all those years. I just could not imagine that.

So, rather than walk away from the Church, I did what I really needed to do – and what I have counseled so many people, of all ages from the youngest to the oldest, to do when we have these terrible, tragic experiences. And that is to draw closer to Christ in the face of pain and agony and loss. When I did that, it was not just an inner, “me and Jesus” kind of experience. The Lord came to me, and began to heal me through the faces, the words, the embraces, the love of His people: the Church.

My spiritual father was one of them. He was tough on me. He told me, “Your faith just has to kick in.” One of the questions I raised was, “Where was God when all this happened?” And he said, “He was in the same place the day that Debbie died that He was on Great and Holy Friday, when His Son died.” He told me that even though that particular Tuesday when we had the accident might have been a Good Friday to me… still, Good Friday is not the end of the story… Pascha is. He reminded me that Christ triumphed over death – and I had to believe that my wife was a sharer in that victory and in the Resurrection.

Good Friday is not the end of the Story

Good Friday is not the end of the Story

So, I never left the Church. I never walked away from the priesthood. My first parish as a priest became a replica of what I had experienced in my home parish as a young person… and those people who I served as a young widowed priest helped me nurse back to spiritual health – as well as me helping them in their dark moments and in their difficulties. It wasn’t just me, as their priest, taking care of them. Guided by God, as His family, we cared for each other.

A famous Christian writer named Tertullian, who lived less than 200 years after Jesus, wrote that “A Christian alone is no Christian.” He meant that no one is saved alone… it takes the Church to save a soul. Whenever I look back on that incredibly painful time in my life, I am more and more deeply convinced that I never would have survived – not spiritually, and maybe not literally – without the Church. I do not mean just the Church as a building, although that is the place where we meet and pray and even play together. I mean, the Church as a community; the constant presence of the people of God – my spiritual father, my parishioners, my brother priests and their families, with all of the guidance, the prayers and the love that they have to share.

Even though my hope for you who read this is that you never have to go through what I went through, I pray that somehow, whenever you do experience difficulties, doubts, and obstacles, by God’s grace, your faith will “kick in.” I pray that you will seek, and find, the healing and the love that Our Lord offers us in the faces, the embraces, and the prayers of others — the love of Christ Jesus, shown within the community of His Church.

One of my favorite quotes in the Bible is from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, in which he asks the question, “What can separate us from the love of Christ?” (Rom. 8:35). And he answers that neither height nor depth… nor life nor death… nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Thanks to the Church, I am living proof that this is true.


It All Comes Down to Faith

January 22, 2013

By Liz Korba

Why am I still here? This question probably crosses everyone’s mind at some point. I attend church regularly. I am a choir member and a member of the St Mary’s Saints-a teenage youth group at my parish. I’ve also been through my fair share of waking up on Sunday mornings and saying “5 more minutes  over and over. I keep getting involved as best as I can and I have a good time with my friends and family. But even through all that, I occasionally question my faith. I think we all do at some point. Why Orthodoxy over Catholicism or Lutheranism or any other religion that is out there these days?

Everybody talks about the great miracles of God. Everyone talks about how they have prayed and now they have peace and life is so much better.  I’m sure it’s all very real for them, but it sounds too simple to see things like that-to see God like that-since we are living in a world split between believers and non-believers.

I’m not going to go on a roll about how God has changed my life. I’m sure that He has and I just don’t realize it yet, but I’m also still young, and like most American teenagers, I’m still sorting out what it means to believe and what are the consequences of my beliefs. In the bible, a lot of people were followers of Christ, but a lot of people were killed for believing in Him. As I mature in my faith, I even find that there are Church teachings and traditions that I struggle to accept, understand, and support, especially on many of the so-called “culture wars” topics.

I’ve learned how to think critically with my modern education, which has led me to realize that some of the Church’s teachings are both very ancient and even divine wisdom. But I also wonder if maybe some other teachings are just cultural; just people being people- and these ideas got wrapped up in Church language and in the end we all think it is gospel. Going to school in 21st century America, even the idea of divinely-inspired scriptures are hard to swallow. Anybody can write a book and call it holy. Enough modern literature seeks to displace the Bible. A lot of teenagers I know also seek to displace it as well. Did this really actually happen or is it more like a fairy tale, just another story I’ve been told. But even in history, the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, the Qur’an, the Book of Mormon-all these are holy to their respective followers, and look at the fights that each one has caused through the centuries.

Pascha Night

Pascha Night

But my questions and doubts can’t overshadow the real beauty that I see here in the Church. I’m still here today because I’m still learning. As I have grown (and grown up) in the Church, I have realized more with each passing year how many interesting things are going on here. Pascha (my favorite church holiday and feast period!) is filled with sights, sounds, and breathtaking excitement when the clergy comes out of the altar and lights everyone’s candles before the procession. And every time I’m there, I see the icons and their meaning (windows to heaven), the stained glass windows decorating the cathedral, and I hear the melodies we sing every week.

Lately it’s the music that keeps me coming back. I’m hearing more of the words in our hymns and grasping more of their meaning. I’m hearing both the melodies and the teachings that make Orthodoxy so unique. And while I’ve heard the sounds for my entire life, I am beginning to understand now what everyone has been singing, talking and chanting about. The pieces are starting to come together and I can now see the big picture.

The Big Picture

The Big Picture

So it’s tough, trying to make sense of the church and our services and how our teachings relate to my daily life. The Butler Act and Scopes monkey trial in the 1920s and Daniel v. Waters legal case in 1975 are both examples of how Evolution or The Big Bang Theory are more excepted theories in today’s classrooms than anything religious, and usually anything ‘churchy’ is avoided altogether – even in history classes!  Yet even through all these obstacles, I have faith in faith. I guess that is better than absolute rejection. I haven’t been rejected by God, so it makes no sense for me to turn my back on Him either. On the other hand, I haven’t yet had that great, life-changing moment of revelation where I can feel something inside me helping or guiding me in the right direction. For now, the teaching that I can accept and relate to is that Christ is my physician and I am a sick patient who needs to (among other things) come to church for a “weekly healing”, whether that means a psychiatrist or a medical doctor. The best I can do is pray.

In a strange twist of fate, as I was finishing up writing this article, my parish priest, Fr Andrew Morbey, offered a few words of wisdom on the subject in our weekly bulletin. He wrote “why do we come to church? A pious person might say: it is all for God! Although that is true, it is all for you, dear parishioners, it is for those in the pews. The most important person in the church is the person standing in the worship devotion and prayer.”[1] I’m glad he wrote that, because when there are no more ears for my words to fall upon to tell of my troubles, I come to church. I don’t have to say anything aloud, I speak through my heart. By the end of the service I feel as if a burden has been lifted off of my shoulders. It is truly a wonderful thing to have that feeling.

I think that the fact that I’m growing up in the Orthodox faith in the 21st century puts me in the best possible situation. I have tradition to support me in a new and exciting age. It can be challenging standing at the intersection between the modern world and such an ancient faith as ours, life is a scary path and we can all use a little guidance, but I’m still here, and I don’t plan on leaving any time soon!

The Intersection  between Ancient Tradition and the Modern World

The Intersection between Ancient Tradition and the Modern World


[1] Fr Andrew Morbey, “Weekly Meditation” in St Mary’s Cathedral Weekly Bulletin, Minneapolis: Jan 20, 2013.


Look to the Bright Light

January 22, 2013

by Father Peter Paproski

One of my earliest recollections in life is being taught to pray by my elderly Baba (grandmother) who lived in our home the last few years of her life. Every morning she would get up early and call my brother and myself to her side in our living room, where we would kneel and pray together. Telling us “this is how we pray in Church,” she patiently taught us the Lord’s Prayer and the prayer “Rejoice O Theotokos” in Church Slavonic. Every morning, for the good part of a year, we repeated this ritual until one day we no longer needed Baba’s help, and were able to recite these prayers from memory. Not long after that, Baba fell-asleep-in-the-Lord.

Baba's Prayers

Baba’s Prayers

At that time, I did not really comprehend the significance of what my grandmother had done. I appreciated that she had taught me some prayers, even though I didn’t really understand the words. It was not until much later in my spiritual journey that I truly grasped the full significance of what had taken place as I knelt, each day at the side of my grandmother.

After my grandmother passed away, we attended Church infrequently, in a large part because we were attending a parish where little English was used in the services. I remember at the time being terrified of the priest when he would preach very vociferously in an unfamiliar language. By the providence of God, someone suggested to my mother (who was a convert to the Orthodox faith) that we visit another Orthodox Church that was closer to our home, where the services were predominantly in English. When we entered that tiny church for the first time and felt truly welcome, we knew we had come home. My mother, who had embraced the faith about ten years previously, was like a sponge, soaking up all the knowledge of the faith that she could. Many times, she had me ask my Church School teachers questions that she was too embarrassed to ask herself.

As the years went on, we eventually returned to our home parish, where slowly things began to change. More English began to be used in Divine Services, and our awareness of the faith continued to grow under the leadership of an exemplary priest, Fr Basil Butchko, who taught us what joy in Christ is all about. He loved to pray the services. He was a patient and gentle spiritual father, and we learned much about the Orthodox Faith. He loved to have fun with his parishioners, always having an amusing story to tell. He taught us to embrace and enjoy life.  He was present at nearly all of our birthday parties, school concerts and plays, as well as our bedside when we were sick. In Father Basil we saw a living icon of Christ, and were inspired to love the Church, even when things were tough.

The era of the 1970’s and early 1980’s were transitional years in the Orthodox Church in North America. As more and more liturgical services and theological writings became available in the English language, there was a greater desire amongst young adults to pierce beyond the ethnic cloaks that overshadowed the faith. The tension between the old and new generations over language of services and the need to reach out to those outside of the household of faith, greatly discouraged the youth of my parish. This, coupled with a frequent change in pastoral leadership, led me to consider leaving the faith when I left home for my freshman year at the University of Connecticut.

The University of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut

Because I was so accustomed to attending Church every Sunday, I decided I would make one attempt to find an Orthodox Church to attend while at College. If it didn’t work out, I told myself, I would be off the hook. I made a call and found a very interested and supportive priest who made the necessary arrangements to get me to Church. While this Church was even smaller than my home parish, I felt immediately at home and humbled because an elderly couple went out of their way, literally 12 miles round trip, to pick me up and take me to Church. Another couple took me out to eat after Church, brought me back to school and gave me spending money to buy myself supper. At this little Church, where no one knew me, I had the chance for a fresh start. It was a real joy to take part for the very first time, in the Divine Liturgy served completely in English.

During my college years, I had the great blessing to meet two young Bishops, of blessed memory, who helped foster my vocation to the Holy Priesthood: Archbishop (then Bishop) Job (Osacky) and Metropolitan (then bishop) Nicholas (Smisko) who later ordained me to the Holy Priesthood These bishops, by their keen interest in the youth of the church and their hopeful and joy-filled vision of the Orthodox Faith, opened my eyes even further to the beauty and truth of the Orthodox Faith. They instilled a hunger within me to learn all I could about the Church. I went to college seeking to become an attorney and left seeking a seminary education.

The Late Archbishop Job teaching the people

The Late Archbishop Job teaching the people

Also during my college years, I struggled to learn what my vocation was. I was blessed to have the Lord send several young committed priests into my life who would be my spiritual fathers during these formative years. Looking back, I credit their guidance in keeping me in the faith. While so many my own age turned away from God, by the Grace of God, I drew closer. In those days, my greatest frustration was finding so few like minded Orthodox Christian contemporaries with which to find strength in my journey to Christ. Fired up about the Orthodox Faith, with the local Orthodox priest’s help, we held Vespers on campus and tried unsuccessfully to start an Orthodox Christian Fellowship. I have come to learn over the years that if we are patient and trust in God, many times the desires of our hearts are fulfilled. I am happy to say that today, more than twenty-five years after graduating from college, I have been able to see my dream fulfilled. There is now a beautiful Orthodox Chapel at my alma mater, and a very dynamic and spiritually mature Orthodox Christian Fellowship.

Looking back on my life, I realize that the reason I am still in the Church today is because of the strong, faith-filled people the Lord has placed in my life. Most especially, I look back and see how the strong faith of my pious grandmother left an indelible mark in heart and soul, and how she planted within me a desire to seek always the fruits of prayer, union with God. My mother, whose zeal for Orthodoxy and persistence in seeing to it that we attended Church every Sunday without fail, instilled within me zeal and spiritual discipline which are the keys to pushing through the roadblocks Satan places in our paths. My spiritual fathers and Bishops played a pivotal role in my spiritual formation. They served as living icons of the love and compassion of Jesus Christ, which assured me that all of my struggles and sacrifices in remaining faithful to the Church were never in vain. Finally, my friendships with committed Orthodox Christians my own age, helped me to stay the course.

To those who today are struggling with similar thoughts and temptations, I offer this very simple advice: look to those bright lights of the Church that are always around you for inspiration and guidance. Know that the Church, which is a spiritual hospital for sinners, loves and needs you and is always there to help. Make no mistake, there will always be difficulties. There will be people and priests and others who will disappoint you, but our Lord never will. Look beyond people and their human frailties, keep your eyes focused on our Lord and His beauty and holiness, and you will see the radiance of the Kingdom, which shines like a beacon of the True Faith. Then, it will not be a question of why you are still in the Church, but rather, thank God, I am a member of the Body of Christ, in which we “ live move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)


Unabashedly Romantic

January 22, 2013

By Alexandra Morbey

Why am I still here? The question requires more self-reflection than I anticipated. I’ve tried to answer in fits and starts and come up short of anything inspiring or interesting. The final result is a blog entry about romance. That’s what it boils down to. Pious and practical in parts, but the overarching theme is romantic.

I’m tempted to search the correct, academic definition of romantic, but I won’t. For the purposes of this entry, romance is defined as the heartfelt search for beauty, truth, dignity, kindness… whether technically accurate or not. These parameters I set by my own stubborn and spoiled terms. Stubborn and spoiled, I admit I am, but I am convinced over and over again that what I seek lies outside of my own sensibilities and imagination and my own ability to comprehend.

A romantic heart can lead most anywhere. That’s the danger, and that’s the adventure. My mother’s prayers must have been fervent as she navigated her own challenges of marriage, career, and my siblings. Prayers. God’s mercy. One Lenten evening in a bar not far from St Vladimir’s Seminary, I pounded my little fist on a table and asked my future husband (and fellow seminarian) “Does true love exist?” He answered, “Let’s give it a try.”

Romantic-and-Classic-Bar-Interior-Design-of-Fino-Ristorante-and-Bar-California

A significant choice was made that night.

Choices.

The choice of a spouse may be the most important in terms of an individual’s future happiness. Dear Readers, the emphasis cannot be great enough. Within that choice- romantic, pragmatic, or whatever else- lies the direction of your life and the lives of present and yet-unborn family. Every ounce of your physical, mental, and spiritual development must come into play. Yet it can play out in a comical (charming?) scene at Tumbledown Dick’s Bar in Tuckahoe, New York.

You see, despite myself, I had incredible direction from a mighty compass that even I did not understand that night when I asked, “Does true love exist?” In my flailing about in soft academics and variant forms of Christianity, I found myself at seminary. My muddled thinking was occasionally pierced by clarity. I often found myself moved to tears in lectures by Frs Schmemann, Hopko, and Meyendorff. The seminary halls were filled with wonderful people from around the world. Even my boundless romantic sensibilities were satiated.

I had found a compass to guide my search.

There, at seminary, the greatest, most romantic compass of all was first revealed to me and continues to reveal itself fresh and new to me to this day…. the liturgy. An accurate compass, giving direction, holding positions steady, averting miscalculation and loss.

Oh, this does not mean I scramble to church whenever possible. In a complex sort of way, it’s often quite the opposite. But I am sensible enough to know it’s good and right to attend. My romantic cause is not forgotten. Once there, I may be blessed with a gift of clarity of thought or a lofty emotion or two. More often, though, force of habit transforms and shapes my life.

Discipline of habit in the midst of romance bears abundant blessings.

Attendance at liturgy is a practical habit. This habit is a choice made within the context of my romantic marital choice, made within the context of my romantic choice to seek beauty, truth, goodness…

So, I’m still here. Married to an Orthodox priest and living in Minnesota. Unabashedly romantic.

My husband and I have given true love a try, and, in spite of me, the experiment is successful. St Mary’s Cathedral is across the street and offers ample opportunity to exercise liturgical discipline and habit. The cold outside is fierce, but the fire where I sit is bright and warm. The sun is shining mercifully. My daughter’s big dog snores peacefully at my feet. This romantic counts her blessings. I am glad to still be here.

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Here for the Memory

January 22, 2013

by Deacon Jason Ketz

It is memory that keeps me here.

This is my best explanation I have for why I am still around. My strongest answer (for now, at least), but not my first. The answer that I generally use when people ask me is “well, why wouldn’t I be?”

For the majority of my short life, this answer – why change? – has served its purpose. Few people have ever asked me why I believe in Christ, and I suppose such a simplistic answer as “well, why not?” wouldn’t really hold up. But it has done wonders for explaining my Orthodox Christian faith.

I should start by explaining that I grew up in the Church, and my family has been Orthodox for several generations, so Orthodoxy is normative for me. I’m long used to the fasts and the feasts, the saints, the lengthy liturgy, the different calendar for Lent. And on Pascha, “Christ is Risen!” is not merely a Church expression, but one that I am able to share with all of my extended family at dinner that Sunday. Furthermore, my experience with Orthodoxy has been overwhelmingly positive. I have benefitted from growing up in a large, vibrant and loving parish community. Never during my childhood or adolescence (and even rarely in my adulthood thus far) have I had the misfortune of interacting with clergy and lay community leaders who seem anything short of legitimate servants of our Lord Jesus Christ. Consequently, I have stayed involved in Church life, and particularly in liturgical worship, for most of my days, and the experience has been beneficial and enjoyable. Again, why would I give that up?

So when people ask why I’m [still] Orthodox, this response satisfies their curiosity and encapsulates my thoughts on the matter. I know that it makes me sound rather happy-go-lucky, perhaps a bit lazy or ignorant, but I have thought about the matter at length. And to spare you all the psycho-pathology, please believe me when I say that if I had a compelling reason to go elsewhere, I would.

My oblique response to those who question my faith served me well, ironically, until I attended seminary. I thought it was strange that people as pious as seminarians and professors of theology would ask me such a question, and then wouldn’t tolerate my nonchalance on the subject. I’m really not even sure the question is fair – it implies that our faith is a choice, but the question also strikes at the relativism of our day. Jesus Christ is, whether or not I choose to accept him. Of course, I’m well aware that religion is a buyer’s market today, and people court and select a church like they select a college or (God forbid!) a spouse, always with an exit strategy written into the fine print. But to describe church in such terms sounds awful. It completely misses the point. Where is Christ in such an equation? If he’s there, he’s certainly not there as Lord, God and Savior.

Religion a Buyer's Market?

Religion a Buyer’s Market?

For most of my life, I have understood my faith in a few very simplistic tenets. I told my second grade teacher that the purpose of life was to serve God (she asked us because she meant it to be a riddle. Not so!). And I understood Church to be a place where our Lord was to be encountered. So when people ask me why I’m still here, and I say “where else would I be?” what I’m really saying – without meaning to sound overtly sentimental or pietistic or weird – is that I truly believe that I have encountered Christ in and through my Orthodox faith. So why would I turn my back on this belief? Turning my back on the Church would equate to turning away from Christ. He wouldn’t do such a thing to me, so why would I willingly turn away from him?

I don’t feel up to a discussion on ecumenism today, so I can say only this: because I know that the Orthodox faith has brought me into contact with my Lord and Savior, I am very hard-pressed to find another, ‘better’ way to reach him. As an advocate for continuous improvement, I’m open to the possibility, but I don’t get the sense that faith in Christ is meant to be easy or convenient. So I’m very much inclined to leave things alone regarding churches, rituals and creeds.

But I have accepted this question “why am I still here?” as a push toward a stronger explanation for my deep rooted inertia. So deeper we must dig.

Our Kind and Caring Church Role Models

Our Kind and Caring Church Role Models

I have also considered seriously whether the reasons I am still here are all of the kind, loving and positive role models I’ve encountered in the church. There is no doubt in my mind that I am here because of these experiences. I was an inquisitive youth, and I was fortunate enough to be in a church community with an abundance of people willing and able to answer my questions, or to challenge me, and always to keep me interested in Christ, in the Church, in the Liturgy, in theology, in scripture. The list of people to whom I owe this debt of gratitude is impressive.

This is not an uncommon theme, people motivating people to come back to church. This is probably the single most common reason that any of us are still here, and it is a perfectly defensible answer to say “because so-and-so invited me”… even if the invitation was years ago! I’m not much of a people-person, though, so it’s a bit comical that I, who could gladly attend church without ever a coffee hour, would realize that it’s my interactions with people that have kept me coming back to the liturgy that I love.

So it seems that my positive past experiences and acquaintances keep me coming back. In short, you could say that it is my memories that keep me here. Which is very nearly how I began this article. Except that I am not still here simply because of the memories, but because of memory itself.

Church, for me, is not a trip down memory lane. It’s not merely a chance to hang on to my own personal past, nor is Orthodoxy a stable, conservative haven from the incessant storm of change that life brings to us all. True, “Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever” (Heb 13:8), but my faithful response to him is as dynamic as life itself. And although our Lord entered time and space (i.e., the incarnation), he did not enter the space and time in which I exist, so there is a chasm separating us – a chasm that is bridged by memory, and specifically by the memory that is evoked during the church services and especially the Divine Liturgy.

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Patriarch Kirill of Moscow remembers people in prayer as he prepares bread for the Eurcharist

The preparation of the Eucharist involves prayers that require our recollection, or anamnesis. As a community, we gather and remember the past together. In the Liturgy, it’s our Lord’s past, particularly his passion and resurrection, that is remembered. Our worship does the same with the psalms, and with the lives of saints in other services. And when we do this, our memory breaks down this separation we have from our past. We are all connected though a series of memories now stretching through two thousand years – and beyond! – of time, and thousands of miles of space. Through memory, the past becomes present. It becomes a reality, and we recognize this. We recognize this when we say “today…” as we celebrate historical feasts in the Church. And we recognize this when we approach the chalice believing that today’s bread and wine is Christ’s body and blood. This is all possible only through memory.

I am still here because I am a part of this memory. I am a part of the group that together recollects the saving work of our Lord, and together experiences and rejoices in this promise of our salvation. I’m sure the group could get along fine without me – such is the nature of groups – but I would not fare so well without them. So together, we strive to follow God’s instructions first issued through Moses: “Give heed to the statutes and the ordinances which I teach you, and do them; that you may live” (Deut 4:1). And “remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you” (Deut 15:15; 24:18).

And the reason that I am such a willing participant in Orthodox Christian remembering of our Lord Jesus Christ, is because this remembering is reciprocal. Not only do we remember our Lord, but he remembers us. Our Lord remembers his covenant with Noah, and with Abraham, and with David, and his remembrance of the covenant is our salvation. To what extent God remembers me individually, I cannot say. I believe that, as we say in the Liturgy of St Basil the Great, “the Lord knows (and remembers) the name of us each, even from our mother’s womb.” And I know also that the wise thief asked our Lord to “remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42), and his prayer was answered. However, I hear and remember this prayer and this scripture passage primarily (and exclusively, in the case of the intercessions of Basil’s liturgy) as a member of the congregation!

Lord, Remember me in Your Kingdom

Lord, Remember me in Your Kingdom

So, in short, I am still here because of memory. I am here because I am remembered, and I return in order to remember. And through this experience, I have collected a lifetime of memories besides. Through my faith in Christ, through our liturgical worship, and through my continued participation in the life of the Church, these memories are all integrated, and all accessible.

To me, the most serious violence that time does to us all, is the destruction of memories. However, our Lord is also the Lord of time, and in him, our memories live on. And the Church, as a worshipping community, becomes a safe harbor from the amnesia that time afflicts upon us all. For this reason, I take great comfort in our Lord’s remembering, and in the survival of all of our memories. Perhaps it’s not the only reason, but for now at least, this is the most powerful reason that I’m still here today.


Volume 4, Number 1, Authors and Contributors

January 22, 2013

His Grace, Bishop Michael [Dahulich] is the bishop of New York and the Diocese of New York and New Jersey of the Orthodox Church in America. Raised in Binghampton, NY, His Grace attended Christ the Savior Seminary in Johnstown, PA and completed  his PhD. at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. Prior to his ordination to the episcopacy, His Grace served as a parish priest in several Pennsylvania parishes and most recently as Dean and Professor at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary in South Canaan, PA. 

Liz Korba is a high school student in Minneapolis, MN. She worships at St Mary’s (OCA) Cathedral, in Minneapolis, where she is actively involved in the cathedral’s youth group (the St Mary’s “Saints”), sings in the choir, and assists with the distribution of the post-communion bread and wine. Outside of the church community, Liz is actively involved at her high school as well, and is a member of the renowned Patriots Marching Band. 

Very Rev. Protopresbyter Peter Paproski is the pastor of St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church in Stratford, CT (Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the U.S.A.). He is married to Carol Paproski and is the father of two sons, Daniel and Timothy. Fr. Peter holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the University of Connecticut and a Master’s of Divinity Degree from St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.Presently, Fr. Peter also serves the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA in several capacities and is the Northeastern Regional Chaplain and webmaster for the OCF.

Alexandra Morbey lives in Minneapolis, MN with her husband, Archpriest Andrew Morbey. Their home empties and fills with their three children who are like oxygen for their parents. Alexandra, who has worked as a teacher and in retail, does what she needs to do to help ends meet. She regularly visits her amazing 93 year old mother in Richmond, VA.

Deacon Jason Ketz is a deacon at Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Minneapolis, MN. He and his wife Elizabeth have three children (Sophia, Patrick, and Natasha). He is a graduate of Arizona State University and Saint Vladimir’s Seminary and works in the medical device industry, specifically in the fields of continuous improvement and quality control. He is the editor of this blog. 


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