An Interesting dilemma for the Progressive Liberal Democrats

With the unveiling of the so-called “whistle-blowers” involved with the debacle known as Benghazi, there also comes a rare opportunity for the Progressive Liberal Democrats to implode upon one another.  This is, of course, if the Conservative element in the Congressional hearings keep applying the pressure as they well should.  If they cave in, as they usually do, then they will miss a golden opportunity to wake this country up to what we really have in control of our government today.  President Obama’s speech to “the” Ohio State University the other day and the student’s reaction to it was very telling.  He basically said that government (make that BIG Government) is your friend and that any who say otherwise are unpatriotic rebels (I came close to saying “terrorists”) who would overthrow our way of life and established standards of living.  Nothing could be farther from the truth!

Before I go on with this, I am remiss that I have not proclaimed:  Christ is Risen!  Alleluia!  Orthodox Easter, Holy Pascha, was this past Sunday!

On of my favorite movies is “Command Decision” with Clark Gable, Walter Pigeon, Van Johnson and many others.  It is a story of a Brigadier General (Clark Gable) who is in charge of planning and executing B-17 bomber strikes on Germany out of England.  Walter Pigeon is his superior who has been through one war already and fought hard for the implementation of daylight precision bombing, in spite of the heavy casualties that come with it.  Walter Pigeon’s character is away for a few days in Washington, so Clark Gable’s character takes the initiative to put into action a three-day top-secret operation called “Operation Stitch” (named for “a stitch in time saves nine”).  This involves three straight days of daylight bombing deep into Germany to knock out the places factories wherein the Nazis are producing the ME-262, the jet-powered Messerschmidt.  This means heavy casualties three straight days without and “milk-runs” in between to “average out the losses.”  The plot is further complicated when, after knocking out the first target on the first day, they miss the second target by dumping their bomb-loads on a similar-looking target and so, must use a fourth day to complete the mission.  The conflict then is between Gable and Pigeon:  the former wants to finish the job, especially because the weather will only hold for the next two days, and the latter wants to “average the losses” by scheduling a few “milk-runs” in between, so he will not be in danger of losing the concept of daylight precision bombing to the Chief of staff in Washington.  This conflict is played out superbly in the movie and I highly recommend it, not only as a great movie but also as a teaching tool for management classes in effective management techniques.  The point I wanted to make with this synopsis lies in the fact that another element in the conflict plays a big part in resolving said conflict, the press.  In my last blog, I spoke of a compliant press.  In this movie the press is anything BUT compliant.  There is one reported who wants to crucify Gable for his seemingly cavalier attitude toward the loss of human life as he sends out planes and men to be lost “just so he can gain another star on his shoulder.”  The newsman, takes on a one-man crusade against Gable.  When the information officer tries to soothe him by telling him that the American people want to hear of the accomplishments they were making and not “negative” journalism, the reporter says something very profound.  He says of the two day’s losses over Posenleben and Fendlehorst (not knowing that Fendlehorst was a total failure and would have to be repeated) which totaled one hundred planes and one thousand airmen, “The loss of one thousand of our boys is still big news to the folks back home!”  And he sets out to write his story of callous disregard for human life in search of a medal or an extra star!  It all works out in the end but I will leave you all to see it for yourselves.

The loss of four people who did not have to die is still very big news to those of us who care about our country, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  I think, personally, that Madam Hillary’s remark about “who cares” in regard to the how and why of this debacle in Benghazi is, at the least, reprehensible, and at the worst, a treasonable offence.  She and Obama should be found criminally guilty of manslaughter for abandoning those who relied upon them for their safety and rescue!

What is the dilemma the Progressive Liberals face?  It is simply this:  there is no possible way, now that many facts are coming out into the open thanks to those who have the courage to speak out (God bless them!  as opposed to our illustrious “Christian” President saying “God bless you for the work you do.” to an abortion mill!!!), that any “underling scapegoat” can be blamed for what happened.  This, of necessity, will go right to the top!

That means that either Madam Hillary or Obama himself will have to take full blame for the fiasco;  they will not be able to “palm it off.”  That being the case, Obama himself will never, because of his super ego, accept any blame for anything, especially this.  The Party is grooming Madam Hillary to be the “Great White Woman Hope” for the 2016 election and, if she takes the hit, then she goes down in flames for 2016!  This could degenerate into a finger-pointing match between the two of them (remember the primary in 2008?  There is still “bad blood” from that, I am sure.) and could develop into a huge split in the party.  Can you see Obama denying responsibility and blaming Hillary, and then Hilary making the claim that the Obama faction is anti-feminist (“blame it on the woman!”).  Then, in turn, Hillary will deny responsibility and blame Obama and the Obama camp will charge the Hillary camp with being racist!  And where oh where will the compliant media fall in this controversy?  They will be so divided that Chris Matthews will not know which of his legs is tingling!

Therefore, Conservatives everywhere, put the pressure on your representatives and make sure he or she knows what is at stake here!


Now that I have said my piece, I will include the next Romanian Journal entry and a homily from Rose Sunday (the Fourth Sunday in Lent) for your reading pleasure.


Feb 21:  Monday, the beginning of the second half of my trip.


Today was another fairly uneventful day, unfortunately.  I was hoping that Fr. Iulian would have a schedule prepared for me and have some presentations arranged.  I got up, washed and had breakfast and morning prayers.

Anca and I are going owl shopping sometime soon since I found a hat on my own.  She says she is probably not a good “owl shopper” but I told her this will expand her horizons!  She left the office at 3:30 PM today to go to her college classes.  I asked her what she was studying and she said “Law.”  I told her if she was going to be a lawyer, then that might end our friendship.  She quickly countered with the fact that she does not want to be a lawyer so much as a prosecutor or a judge.  I told her that there was some hope left for her! :O)

Father Iulian is such a busy man;  he carries two cell phones and they are always ringing.  He left just before lunch to take care of something and, when the girls brought out the snacks for lunch I figured I had better get back to the hotel for lunch.  I excused myself and went for lunch.

When I got back to the office, Fr. Radu (he looks like Dale James!) was there, he and Fr. were in a discussion about the presentation in May.  My name and portion of the presentation was on their sheets of paper.  I remarked to them, “I bet you are talking about my schedule, right!”  They said “No!”  Father Radu is really funny sometimes.  He can get very animated when he speaks and I told him I would love to hear him preach sometime because he looks like he can really get into it.  He immediately invited me to his Parish this Sunday and Andreea seconded the invitation because it is her home Parish.  She said she has had Fr. Radu as a spiritual father for many, many years.  He was engaged in making a point to Fr. Iulian and going on with glasses in hand, gesturing, and really making his point (all in Romanian, of course) when he turned to me and said, “You agree with me, don’t you!”  I said I fully agreed.

We spoke a bit more today about a pre-marital guide for the Priests to use, so I went on the website and looked under the dept. of Marriage and Parish family life to see if the manual Khouriya Maggie was working on was finished and it is.  So I sat down and wrote her a nice long E:Mail telling her what I was doing here and would she send Fr. Iulian one of the manuals.  It requires her training the user on the manual and I told her that Fr. may be coming to the US for the missions conference in October and that he would come see her for training if he thought the manual was suitable for the Romanians.  I downloaded a free brochure on the Orthodox wedding from the department and forwarded it to Fr. Iulian but it was not of much use to him since it only covers the details of the wedding ceremony.  He was surprised to see that we have wedding rehearsals in the US since they do not do that here.  He asked why do you do that?  I told him it was because most all of us are converts and many have never seen an Orthodox wedding, let alone participated in one.  I asked Fr. if he had read through my proposal (I sent a copy to Khouriya Maggie) and he said not yet because he has to read it in English and then process it in Romanian and that is a very difficult task with his workload right now.  Pray for him;  he is a very godly and busy man!  Before we left for the day, one of his colleagues, Fr. Sebastian, came in to talk to Fr. about something.  After he left, Fr. told me that he was saying that his mother was just diagnosed with cancer and he is very upset.  Please pray for Fr. Sebastian’s mother.

Tomorrow is the weekly staff meeting that I attended last week.  Andreea is the leader of the group that addresses minorities, so she has charge of the Roma People, not an enviable task, I must say.  Father said I should be there at nine AM again as he left.  I packed up my things and bid Andrea good-bye until tomorrow and retired to the hotel for dinner.  I have been having fits all night with my internet connection so I will have to use the Cosmotie to connect and send this off unless I can exorcise the demon out of the wireless router. :O)  The clerk said it would have to be addressed in the morning since that it was when the computer technician comes in.  Hopefully we will get it resolved.



            Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.  …  Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  X

Today we come to Rose Sunday on our journey toward Holy Pascha.  Rose Sunday, as we know, is a brief glimpse of the Glory to be revealed in the Holy Resurrection of Christ following His Crucifixion and Burial.  Why should we need this?  We who know the end from the beginning because we are joined by Faith and good works to Him Who is The Beginning and the End, The A and the W, should not need extra assurances such as this.  The truth is, however, that we are as the Psalmist describes us, Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep His Covenant, and to those that remember His Commandments to do them.  If St. John the Forerunner needed assurances from his prison cell, should not we who are still saints-in-the-making be in need of some comforting and assurances?

As the Psalmist also tells us, We are fearfully and wonderfully made.  The wonderful part of our nature stems from the fact that we are created in the Image and Likeness of God and are, therefore above even the Angels in the order of creation.  The fearful part, however, is another story.  We have a capacity for a fear that is to be directed toward God alone.  Because of the entrance of sin, however, some of that fear has become misdirected toward the world.  The Lord Jesus told His disciples, fear not them which kill the body and after that have no more that they can do; they are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him Who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

We are to have a healthy fear of God which perfects love for Christ in us, but that fear, if it becomes too great and overbearing, will quickly become unhealthy.  Also, we are to have a healthy fear of the Evil One as did the Archangel Michael as St. Jude tells us:  Yet Michael the Archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.  In our own strength, the Evil One is to be feared, but in Christ we can resist him and he will flee from us.  An unusual scenario occurs in Ac. 19 when St. Paul was casting out demons in the Name of Jesus;  it is illustrative of the danger of approaching the Evil One in one’s own strength.  Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.


Having said this, we should now come to an healthy understanding of fear in the life of the Christian toward God. We love Christ but our love is much less than perfect, even though we are assumed to be working on perfecting that love for Him.  The reason we have fear in our nature is because of sin;  we still fear punishment because we know we are guilty before God because of our desires in the flesh causing us to disobey God, no matter how much we try to do otherwise.  In his Second Epistle to St. Timothy, St. Paul writes:  For God hath not given us the Spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  This is because, as he writes to the Romans, For ye have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  The remedy for our fear is found in St. John’s First Epistle:  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

This is not to say that fear in us is not a good thing.  In fact, it is spiritually healthy for us to live with some fear of our mortality.  If one reads the writings of the holy monastic Fathers, one will get the definite understanding that those closest to Christ live in fear of their sinfulness and mortality before God.  I believe it was Abba Poemen who was found weeping on his death-bed by his disciples, who asked him, “Why do you weep, Holy Father?”  He answered that God had told him that his death was imminent and they still wondered at his tears when he was going to be with God.  He further answered that his tears were “because I have not yet even begun to repent!”  It was that same Holy Father who wrote when comparing the action of water, which is soft, on a stone which is hard, to the action of the Word of God on a stony heart:  “When a person hears the Word of God over and over, his heart is opened to fear God.”

This brings us to the Collect, setting the tone for the liturgical theme of the day, which reflects that healthy fear we should have of God.  It reads:  “Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of Thy Grace may mercifully be relieved, through our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Amen.”  The healthy fear is expressed in our acknowledgment of our deserving of punishment for our sins.  That fear is completely assuaged by Grace through Faith and good works.  It is, however, never to be taken lightly or for granted.  Therefore, we ask God from time to time to remind us of His love for us, especially in times when we are under heavy and/or severe persecution.  At those times, God remembers that we are but dust, and He responds with visions of the glory that is about to be revealed in us.

There is, on the other hand, a fear that is very unhealthy for the believer in Christ.  This is when we allow that fear within us to swallow up what we know of the love of God for us in Christ Jesus.  We can become, because of the lies of the Evil One, the father of lies, who is the accuser of the brethren, overly fearful.  This is the condition we call “hopelessness” and is the product of despair and discouragement.  In the prologue to the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, when Clarence is being briefed on the condition of George Bailey who needs his help and for whom many prayers are being made.  Clarence asks his superior, Joseph, “What is the matter?  Is he sick?  In trouble?”  Joseph’s answer is very profound;  he says, “No, worse, he is discouraged!”

Part of perfecting the love of Christ in us is to achieve a healthy balance of fear and “holy boldness” before the Throne of Grace.  How do we do this?

This brings us to the Epistle reading.  In this reading, St. Paul describes via allegory the difference between those who desire to remain under the Law of sin and death, and those who have become emancipated by Grace through Faith and good works, i.e., between those under the first and Second Adams.  He contrasts the two sons of Abraham as being, one by a bond-maid, hena ek ths paidiskhs, and the other as one after the free-woman, hena ek ths eleutherhs.  He says the former was born after the flesh and the latter was by promise.

The word paidiskhs, signifies a young female slave in the household, one particularly committed to keeping the door of the house.  This is significant because she is the gate-keeper for those who perish in fear and estrangement from God because of a clinging to the Law which works death, no matter how hard we try.  Notice the similar language used by St. Paul in Rom. 8:15 cited earlier:  For ye have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear.  Here, St. Paul uses a different word for bondage, douleias, which means “the condition of being a slave.”  It is described as denoting, “the slavish sense of fear, devoid alike of buoyancy of Spirit and of trust in God, such as is produced by the thought of death.”  We have been set free by the blood of Christ which is the specific connotation of the word eleutheros, the free-woman.  This word denotes the condition of freedom, “i.e. no longer under obligation to, so that one may now do what was formerly forbidden by the person or thing to which he was bound.”  This, my friends, is the true and pure essence of freedom in Christ;  it is the ability now to please God with our lives, as we were created to do, because we are now free from the Law of sin and death.  We are free to love God as we ought and in the perfection of that love in our hearts, there is no fear.

This brings us to the Gospel lesson for today, the Feeding of the Five Thousand from St. John’s Gospel.  This is the first time we have heard from the Fourth Gospel, which theme is Christ as the Son of God, since Epiphany III, the Wedding at Cana.  It is appropriate that Rose Sunday uses St. John’s Gospel since it is a peek ahead at the Glory to be revealed in us.

In the other three Gospel accounts of this great miracle of provision, the disciples tell the Lord Jesus to send away the multitudes and let them fend for themselves in regard to their feeding at the late hour and in so remote a place.  The nearest Albertson’s or Ralphs was probably almost a day’s journey from where they were and it was very late in the day.  In the accounts of Sts. Mark and Luke, the Lord Jesus says to His disciples, You feed them, matter-of-factly so as to indicate that He expected them to be able to perform the miracle themselves.  Only here, in St. John’s Gospel, do we see Him dealing only with Philip and Andrew.

The fact that the Passover was nigh indicates that they had strayed far from their “comfort zone” of the Law of Moses and were now wholly dependent upon this Worker of Miracles who had lured them away by performing miracles of healing of their bodily diseases. The people were like Sts. Luke and Cleopas would later be on the Road to Emmaus:  they were filled with awe at His teachings but only revealed fully to them in the breaking of the bread. If there was any fear in them of being forsaken or abandoned, it was fully alleviated when He took five loaves and two fishes, fed five thousand men and their families with them, and then filled twelve baskets full of left-overs!

Also, in terms of fear of leaving the Law of Moses for this One accused by the Pharisees of destroying the Law of Moses, they were comforted in seeing Jesus as that Prophet, a reference to Dt. 18:15ff:  The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; … I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.  He was to be in the spirit and power of Moses in the wilderness;  and here they were, in the wilderness, as in the Exodus, being sustained by God miraculously with more Manna from Heaven.

Many of those in the Exodus feared death in the wilderness and longed for the flesh-pots of Egypt, saying to Moses on many occasions, Why have you brought us out into this wilderness to die?  Here they saw the fulfillment of the ancient prophecy to the Israelites:  So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.


What have we learned today from all this?  We have learned what Solomon taught in the Proverbs:  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  We need not fear God as Judge if we know Him as Saviour and LORD.  We do not have a cruel taskmaster for a God, but we call Him Daddy in the most affectionate way (Abba, Father).  At the same time we retain a healthy fear, or reverence for God to keep us in a proper, balanced tension.

If we have too much fear, because of unconfessed sin or giving the deception of the Evil One place in our lives, then be become unproductive and cease to grow in the love of Christ. This is exemplified in several Parables.  In the Sower and the Soils, the second and third soils do not produce fruit because they are laced with fear, the former due to tribulation in the world, and the latter due to desiring the world’s goods.  In the Talents, the one with one talent said, I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground.

Fear can either be liberating, as in the example of Abba Poemen, or it can be debilitating, as in these two Parables cited.  One thing fear is not, is an excuse for being unfruitful in serving the Master of the Universe.  The Lord Jesus said, Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.  The world can be very oppressive and intimidating.  Indeed, Goliath the giant paralyzed the Israelites until a little runt named David came along and by faith said, Who is this uncircumcised Philistine who challenges the Lord’s Army?  As St. Paul writes to the Hebrews, And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.  Commit to memory the words of the Lord Jesus to His disciples:  Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom!

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. X

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Filed under Marriage and Family, Politics, Religion

A consenting Media

I am becoming very much concerned with the news media coverage of political events (and I mean political in the broadest sense);  more than I have been in the past.  We know that the mainstream media in “in the tank” for Obama and the progressive liberals in this country.  When it was just painting President Obama in a good light no matter what (and, conversely, demonizing the Conservatives, especially Tea Party members), that was one thing.  Now it has progressed to the point where the media will not even challenge violations of common sense in smaller political venues.  The issue of same-sex marriage is at the fore right now as the Supreme Court kicks that political football around for a few months.  Many activists on the left have made outrageous statements and have gone unchallenged.  Doctor Benjamin Carson, however, who has made very calm, rational statements on this topic has been demonized by the press and by his own student body at Johns Hopkins Univ.  The same can be said for the gun-control issue.

The more the media ignores (nay, ridicules) logical, rational argument and allows emotion-driven arguments that have no basis in fact and devolve into personal attack, at times, become violent, the more the mainstream media mirrors the propaganda machine that fueled the Third Reich.  Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, made the machine work with the proposition that, “If you tell a lie often enough, the people will believe it.”  The mainstream media is devolving into the Obama propaganda machine, a vital arm of any political movement that is dedicated to perpetuating itself at the expense of the rights of the citizenry.  There was a very good movie made in 1940 called The Mortal Storm with James Stewart, Robert Young and Margaret Sullivan;  it is well worth watching to see how insidious such dictatorial ideologies can overtake a society and destroy lives.

I know that one of the mainstream media’s ploys (and that of progressive liberalism) is to brand its opposition in the vilest and most extreme terms, one of which is to compare the Conservatives with Nazis.  These comparisons are ill-founded and irrational, to be sure.  On the other hand, however, where a legitimate comparison is to be made, it should be made and shown logically how it truly applies.  This is what I am doing in this piece.  If anyone disagrees with me on this comparison, then we can debate it in the open forum of ideas.  I am not writing this from an emotional, irrational point of view;  I will offer facts and facts we can discuss.

Some time ago, I published a homily herein in which I described the two major words for “time” in the New Testament Greek language:  chronos – “time” as a continuum, and kairos – time as recurring “seasons.”  The former word is used of time as progressing in a straight line, start to finish, so to speak.  The latter word deals with time as it repeats itself as in the four seasons coming and going and coming again in regularity.  In the N.T. chronos proceeds from the Creation of the world right up to the judgement where time ceases and eternity (outside of time where God dwells) begins.  Mankind lives in only the past and future, never in the present, because as soon as one says “Now!” that moment in time is past and can never be repeated or recovered.  This is why the philosophers says, “One can never step into the same river twice!”  God, on the other hand, lives in the eternal present;  there is no past or present with God.  Thus, He dwells outside of time and space.

As chronos moves steadily forward, kairos, repeats itself regularly:  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter;  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.  This is in the physical realm.  In the spiritual realm it does so as well.  It is somewhat like a chart I saw on a farmer’s wall concerning droughts.  It was a circle with “drought” at the top:  There is much hand-wringing and discussion about severe measures to be taken when water is plentiful.  Then the “arrow” moves down to 3:00 (“average times”):  the severe drought is gone and there is just enough water for everyone:  the discussions become less frequent and the byword is “let’s not be hasty.”  Then the “arrow” moves to 6:00 (“abundance of water”):  there are no more discussions and the byword is “what drought?”  Then the “arrow” moves up to 9:00 (“average times”):  The discussions begin again but no one wants to do anything concrete.  Then, of course, the “arrow” goes back to 12:00 (“severe drought”) and the cycle repeats itself over and over again.

This is the way it is in the spiritual realm as we move closer and closer via chronos to the end times when the Anti-Christ will appear and the Battle of Har-Megiddo (this is how Armageddon should really be spelled:  it is, literally, Mountain [Heb. Har, plus the city of Megiddo in No. Israel])  will bring about the Second Coming of Christ, the Judgement and the end of chronos.  As we move along chronos, God gives us recurring seasons, kairos, of “peace and safety” (6:00 on the “drought” dial), “average times” (3:00 and 9:00 on the “drought” dial), and “world turmoil and unrest” (12:00 on the “drought” dial).  These seasons are designed to prepare us for what is coming because, with each succeeding generation, the 12:00, or “midnight hour,” becomes more and more severe.  Many prominent “theologians” (I say it that way because the Orthodox Church has pronounced only four men in its history to be true Theologians;  there are many pretenders to that title in and out of Orthodoxy!) in the time of the Second World War declared the end times to be upon us.  They declared Hitler to be the Anti-Christ, Mussolini to be the False Prophet, etc.  They even went so far as to declare certain prophecies from the Book of Revelation to have been fulfilled therein.  One example of such was to have declared the “Scorpion-like creatures” with “stingers on their tails” be have been fulfilled when they put tail guns on the B-17G Flying Fortress!  When Hitler was defeated and the war ended (bringing back “average times”), those same “theologians” were out there buying up their own books to hide their rashness of thought!

Every time we move toward the “midnight hour” in world history, something new is added with each generation.  In the Kennedy era (the Cuban missile crisis) it was nuclear armament possessed by the principals in the “cold war.”  Back then, it was Mother-Russia was was thought to be the progenitor of the Anti-Christ, but Ronald Reagan’s determination ended that thought.  Today it is the Communist Chinese or militant Islam that hold claim to the title in Western minds.  One thing we have added to this generation’s experience with the “midnight hour” is the compliant press, the propaganda wing of the progressive liberal movement.  That insidious movement has taken over academia which has produced the generation of “newsmen and women” with which we suffer today.  It is bad enough that the liberal politicians walk in lock-step with one another.  They come up with an emotion-filled “slogan” designed to have emotive value only, without substance of fact, to chant as a mantra to the dumbed-down public.  Remember “Draconian cuts!  Draconian cuts!” when the Conservatives wanted to try and stem the tide of out-of-control spending in Congress?  Today we hear that same emotive drivel being repeated in the press, both on TV and in the major newspapers, save a few that still believe in reporting the truth.

Rights are being trampled upon as if they did not exist.  Common sense has been jettisoned long ago.  And how is it being done?  It is being done under the guise of “human rights” and “love and compassion.”  The only “love” that will work in the conditions in which this country finds itself is “tough love” but that is a non-existent phrase in the minds of progressive liberals.  They are nothing less than enablers, and enablers are anathema to the real cure for binge-crazy addicts, whether it be drugs, alcohol, or spending.

There are many comparisons I can make to the times that led up to the rise of the National Socialist Party and today’s circumstances:  devastation from past war, poverty-stricken people, removal of the right to bear arms, little to no standing Army, dissatisfaction with past governments, the Jews as a scape-goat for their troubles (today it is Christians), use of mob-violence (today it is the Wall St. protests).  The added dimension, as never before though, is the propaganda press.  If there is no free press (and no arms in possession of the people) who will stand against an oppressive, dictatorial government???  Fox News has been called by President Obama the fosterer of hatred and dissension because they report the truth without bias and let the public decide what the facts mean.  If Fox News and newspapers like the Orange Count Register are forced to close their doors through the whim of an Executive Order or a liberally-biased Federal Court, where do the people turn for help and guidance to know the truth???  The only place they will have left is the propaganda press.  And will it not be ironic when those mind-numbed robots (as they call Rush Limbaugh listeners!) of the press should finally wake up to the truth and try to speak or print it, and be condemned to the same fate as those whom they ridiculed and despised previously!

I hope I have made myself clear in what I have presented.  If anyone wishes to find fault in my facts and/or logic, please feel free to let me know.  I understand that I could be wrong and I am willing to admit it, however, I do not think I am wrong, based upon the facts as they are.  An unchallenged government with a propaganda press is a very, very dangerous thing!!!

And now the next installment of my Romanian Journals:

Feb 20:  Sunday.


Today was a very uneventful day, but it had some high points to it, as every day does here.  I told you there was a celebration going on yesterday evening for a new baby, well that celebration was still going on when it woke me up at 04:30 AM with the music blaring from downstairs.  It was deafening in my room;  needless to say I did not sleep well last night.  When I finally did get back to sleep, the alarm went off and I shut it off and went back to sleep as long as I could.  I got up about 8:30 AM, showered and dressed and hot-footed it to Liturgy, not bringing anything with me since I figured I would get there well after it began.  Little did I know I got there in the middle of Matins and was early.  One of the Priests asked me to sit up front with the celebrants, so I did.  There was not an Iconostasis since this was just a Chapel next the Fr. Iulian’s office.  It had a table for an Altar but it had an Antemins and was authorized to celebrate Liturgy! I found out later that this is the temporary home of St. Sava Parish right next door that is under a full reconstruction as an historical monument.  The place was packed with people!  I swear, if someone held a Liturgy at midnight in a sewer at 50 below zero and announced it only ten minutes before it began, there would be a crowd and standing room only!  The Priest that invited me up front wanted me to serve but I did not bring anything and I promised him I would next Sunday.  They gave me an Orarion to wear for Communion.  He also told me I was sitting in the deaf section of the “Nave;”  I figured that out when I saw a man signing the Liturgy for the people in front of me.  The Priest looked through a bookshelf and handed me a small booklet with the Liturgy in it in English and Greek;  I am getting to where I can follow a bit.  It is just when they leave the main text for stuff from other books that pertain to the particular day that I get lost.  Today was the Prodigal Son.  After Liturgy, I was introduced to the Deacon of the Liturgy.   He is supposed to send me an E:Mail soon so I can send him John Mark’s E:Mail address.  He is a PhD in Cosmology with a Master’s in Theology and He teaches at the University here (I think).  I told him about JMNR’s book on Evolution and he was very interested in talking with him.  He says there are not many good works on the subject and, if they are on the same page together, he can get JMNR’s book published in Romanian.  I sent JMNR an E:Mail telling him this in the wee hours when I got back from Liturgy.

I came home to the hotel and had lunch.  After lunch I came upstairs to catch up on my E:Mails and other stuff.  I decided to add some more stuff to my presentation I finished the other day because it came to my mind I had omitted it and it was important.  I finished that and took a nap to catch up on what I missed last night!  I needed it;  I was nodding off during Liturgy once or twice!  When I awoke, Floyd called me and asked how I was doing.  We talked a bit and then I went down for dinner.  Dinner was the same as lunch, except without the soup but with a delicious pastry for dessert.  I had mineral water in lieu of plain water for dinner.  No matter how hard I shake that stuff, all the bubbles just will not go away!  After dinner I came back to my room and decided to put a few icons on my desktop:  Ancient Faith Radio, KUSC, and KFI.  I have just been listening to Beethoven’s Fifth;  it just ended.

These are recent photos from our last trip.  The first is Catalina and her husband, Cosmine (Fr. Radu’s son) at a pizza joint where the pizza was outstanding!  The second is Mary Patty, myself and Metropolitan TEOFAN.  The last is Mary Patty and the film crew from PRO-TV that did a special on us broadcast throughout Romania.  PRO-TV is a major secular news channel throughout all of Romania.

Catalina and Cosmine Metro. TEOFAN Patty and Film crew from Pro TV

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Dear All:

I cannot believe I had such a brain glitsch that I put down the wrong web-site for the on-line golf game. I wrote and it should have been For all who could not find that about which I wrote because of my error, I sincerely apologize. Mia culpa. :O(

Next Romanian Journal:

Feb 19: A Free Saturday in Iasi.

Today was a good day. I awoke to a fresh blanket of new snow from the night before and it snowed all day; it is a truly beautiful Winter Wonderland. I found myself singing “Winter Wonderland” this morning as I got dressed for breakfast. Breakfast was good this morning, except all the milk was gone so I had to drink tea instead. The people are so kind here and very apologetic when they do not have what one requests. I told the young man that no milk was not an international crisis and please not to worry about it. Have I told you this already; if so, please forgive the repetition. They have no salt and pepper shakers here. They are served on a little round tray with a handle in the middle sticking up (the whole thing is ceramic, I believe) there are five open compartments around the circle: two of them are round and hold little cruets, one of oil and one of vinegar. One holds toothpicks. The other two hold the salt and pepper respectively; one pinches what one wants between the thumb and first finger and then sprinkles whichever by moving the finger across the thumb. And they worry about ice or cold drinks causing colds here! After breakfast I headed to my room to have my morning prayers and get ready to take a walk about the city.
The first place I went was to a barber shop I saw last night to get my hair cut. It was a great experience. The lady who cut my hair spoke Little to no English but she did know “short.” If there was a piece of hair anywhere above my shoulders, she found it and cut it! She trimmed my beard, moustache, eyebrows, the hairs in my nose and ears; she shaved (with straight razor!) my neck and around my ears. And she did cut my hair on my head too. She powdered me with a brush several times. She poured some stuff on the top of my head and massaged it into my scalp; she even massaged my neck and face and temples. It was an experience, believe me; I felt very invigorated when I left, like I could take on the whole world! It was only $32.50 RON (about $10.00) and I gave her a tip of 5 RON; it was worth every penny! I pay about $15.00 with the tip at home and do not get half the treatment for the $13.00 equivalent (with tip) I paid here.
From there I decided to go to the museum Floyd told me I had to visit. It is the St. Stephen Cel Mare (The Great) Museum (I found out I am staying on St. Stephen Cel Mare Blvd.!). They certainly LOVE St. Stephen the Great here in Romania; his great statue on horseback wearing his crown is out in front of the museum. Bummer! The museum is closed for renovations from 2008 through 2011. I walked in and went through the atrium into the main building and all that was there were packing crates, the smell of paint, a security guard and what appeared to be an electrician working on a power panel. I started to speak to the guard and he gestured with the “safe” sign an umpire would make at a baseball game. Even though it signaled “safe” to me; he was really signaling “You’re out!” On the way out to the street in the grounds outside I saw two small children bundled in snow suits playing on an old cannon placed there. They were loading snow into the breach. I walked over and asked them if they were firing snowballs instead of cannonballs. They looked at me as if I had two heads! Their mother and Grandfather ( I suppose) were standing nearby and the Mom translated what they were saying. So we joked a little about firing snowballs and made “BOOM” sounds. It was all good fun. As I departed I reached toward them and said, “May God bless you, children, and may you never have to do anything like this for real.” The mom thanked me very much and I went on my way.
I walked up the street parallel with the hotel so I could keep my bearings as to where I was because Floyd told me it was easy to get lost in Iasi. I walked up a little ways until I crossed the street back toward the hotel to walk down the other side back the way I came. There was a Pizza Hut (the second one I’ve seen in Romania) and several little “magazines” along the way. A magazine is a small grocery store and is different from an alimentare which, if I understand things correctly, does not offer as much variety as a magazine. It may be the other way around. The word magazine is from its use as a storehouse, as we would refer to a “powder magazine” where gunpowder was stored in olden days. The word alimentare I recognize from the “alimentary canal” which is the scientific name for the mouth and esophagus. When it hits the stomach and further down the line it becomes the digestive tract (as I recall, anyhow). That is some more Romanian I have picked up just because I see the English in them. I walked along until I came to a small Mall (two-story, but that is another story!). I bought you a beautiful hat in one of the shops there and tried to buy some socks but I did not want to spend my cash for them. I told you that the @&*%$#$%^*&(#$ credit card was rejected again for lack of a PIN which Chase bank says does not exist and is not needed!!! I will go to a bank on Monday and throw myself on their mercy to see if they can help me unlock the money we put on these cards as we were told to do by OCMC. There are some beautiful Icons in a store in that Mall that are all silver and gold and are very reasonably priced, for the bookstore. If I had the credit card working, I could buy a few of them for the store. As I was walking, an elderly woman stopped me to beg alms. I reached into my pocket and gave her my last two rolls and she was very grateful and went on her way. Later on, after I left the Mall, a Roma girl handed me an Icon card and asked for money. I tried to give it back to her and she would not take it but kept saying, “I want money.” I put the card down on a stack of newspapers and kept going, telling her “No money.” She gave up fairly easily but she called to me one last time as I turned the corner of the street; she said to me, strangely, “I am not going to get married!” It haunts me a bit to wonder why she said just that exact thing: was it the Evil One in her, knowing what my mission is all about??? I went to a large bank on the corner across from my hotel, hoping to speak to someone about the “you-know-what” but it was closed, except for the ATM in the atrium.
I returned to the hotel much earlier than I expected and went upstairs to get a few things done and then took a little nap until dinner. That is when I saw you were on line so much earlier than I expected and we began chatting before dinner. When I went down to dinner I felt the building shake a little and the windows rattle (not like an earthquake) but like the wind was blowing very hard. As I hit the steps to the lobby it became clear to me that the noise was all coming from the lower floors. It was in the lobby I saw some folks sitting on the couches and there was a boom box blasting so hard I could not hear the desk clerk talk. He directed me to the other dining room where breakfast and lunch are served because of the party going on in the hotel. I got there and sat down and when the waiter came out to see what I wanted, I remarked that there was quite a party going on. He said “Yes” and I asked what it was all about but his English needed help so he excused himself and came back and said, “A new baby is born!” I told him that was good cause for celebration and offered a “Thanks be to God” for the new parents! I had some chicken with polenta and some sautéed mushrooms for dinner with rolls and butter, mineral water and a piece of cake. I had skipped lunch today because breakfast was hearty and I expected to be out all afternoon, but the museum was closed. As I told you on the phone, I reached a milestone today: when I put my belt onto my pants, it went to the last hole in the row. It had never been there before! One of my goals here was to lose weight and come back one or two pants sizes smaller and, mulţumiri fie aduse lui Dumnezeu (Thanks be to God!) I have hit the first milestone. I just hope that good dinner did not set me back at all. Pray that I continue the trend, Doamne ajuta (God help me!).
I thank God you and I are able to speak on the phone via Skype and I can help you with some of the rough spots you are having. Thank God also for friends like the Lombardis and Jillybeans who come over to help you and give you company while I am away. As I am sitting here, the music from the celebration is coming up all the way here to the third floor in a pretty loud fashion. It is good to celebrate a new Orthodox life come into the world. As I left the dining hall this evening I could see oodles of champagne glasses in various stages of fullness and emptiness and about four bottles of unopened bubbly sitting on a table by the stairs. This may go on into the wee hours!. I almost bought a pair of shoes today. They were boots with a fur lining and a zipper on the side. Unfortunately, the biggest they had was size 45 (supposedly a 10 and 1/2) but they were too small. It was a shame they were reduced from 69 RON down to 29 RON ($30.00 to less than $10.00). They had a good sole on them too, one that would provide good traction in the snow and ice.

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Fun stuff (a brief escape from the rigors of daily life)

Dear All:

Well, this is the second time I am beginning this post. I had a nice body of material already composed when I decided to change a word or two, so I highlighted the words I wished to change. Somehow, the highlighting jumped to the whole of the text of the blog and, before I could react properly, I typed the first two letters of the change, and I was left with two lonely letters at the top of the page! :O( So, let us begin again and hope I can phrase things as well as I did on the first go-round!
I usually blog when I have something to say concerning a public (political or religious, usually) issue. God gives me a thought and allows me to develop it to the point that I feel compelled to put it into writing here or in a homily. This time, my motivation for blogging is because I have not blogged in such a long time and I do not wish this venue of expression to drown in the sea of complacency and indolence. I still have many entries from my Romanian journals from 2011 to post and Mary Patty and I have been to Romania together twice now since then! Time flies when one is having fun, as the old saying goes. Do you know what a frog says in regard to that old adage??? “Time is fun when one is having flies!”
I will share with you all what the fun has been that has helped make the time fly for me. It is a simple web-site I discovered almost two years ago. It is a golf web-site wherein one can play some of the most famous golf courses in the world, on-line. It costs noting to join. When one joins, one is given a set of cheap clubs and an unlimited supply of cheap balls to use at will. The more rounds one plays, the more points one accumulates and the more one works one’s way to a higher category of player. As one gains points through playing, one moves up through successive levels, one through one hundred. As one moves up through the levels, better equipment opens up for purchase by the player. One begins in the category of “Hack” through “Tour Master;” sometimes the better equipment available depends on one’s category, as well as one’s level, but not usually. One buys the equipment with “credits” one accumulates through watching videos, taking advantage of bargain offers (stuff one really needs or could use; I made a lot of credits buying Christmas gifts!), taking surveys, etc. One can do fabulously and never spend a dime! I am currently at level 82 in the category of “Tour Pro.” If this interests you, go to and sign up and have a ball (bad pun!); it can almost become addictive for those of us who love golf but cannot play due to time, money and ability concerns. Please let me know if you join and how you like it.

Mary Patty and I went to Iasi for two weeks already this year (Jan. 24th thru Feb. 8th) and it was way too short of a visit! We took Al Italia this time (LAX to JFK to Rome to Iasi, Tarom Airlines now has a direct flight from Rome to Iasi) and landed in Iasi in a blizzard. We went in Winter so that we could see how Mary Patty did in the snow and God provided a huge amount for us to test! While there, we finalized the plans for our new home in Iasi on “Colina Brinza.” On the first floor, we will have two offices, one for me in which to see clients for marital or pre-marital counseling, and one for Mary Patty for her sewing, crocheting, etc. Off of those two rooms we will have a terrace overlooking the city of Iasi. The rest of the downstairs will have a large living room with fireplace and a combination kitchen/dining area. Off the kitchen will be a large, walk-in pantry and a half-bath. From the kitchen there will be access to a large patio area that will mate up to the same attached to Fr. Radu’s home. There we will barbecue and entertain. Father Radu will do all the barbecuing because I am NOT a barbecuer nor the son of one! Upstairs we will have the master bedroom with an attached full bathroom, complete with a large tub/spa. We will have another terrace on the upper level off the bedroom as well. Attached to the bathroom will be a large closet/dressing room. On the kitchen side will be two full guest bedrooms and another full guest bathroom, complete with attached closet/dressing room. The two guest bedrooms will be able, Lord willing, to hold five or six people: a husband and wife and one or two children in the larger and two adults or children in the smaller. With our offices being able to accommodate guests in a pinch, we can hold up to ten guests at one time, Lord willing! This will come in handy during the Feast of St. Paraskeva in October when upwards of half a million people visit Iasi annually! The invitation is open to all our friends to come visit us in 2014, Lord willing!!!
While there this time, we visited a Monastery run by Fr. Radu’s best friend where we stayed the night. It had a large lumber business that employed many of the town’s-people, as well as a fully functioning farm where they grew tons (literally) of mushrooms, complete with cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, bulls, etc. The Monastery was wholly self-sufficient, even employing the local populace. Under a blanket of snow were also fields of vineyards and fruit trees and other things that combined to make it a most beautiful place. One the way there, we stopped on a whim at another Monastery of Nuns where the Abbess showed us around and gave us each a CD of their choir’s music. Their Monastery is renowned for its choir.
I had the privilege of speaking to several high school theological classes at a local private high school. I was supposed to speak to one class for about an hour but, after that first hour, they asked if I would stay and speak to two more classes. I, of course, was honored to do so and we were there all morning and part of the afternoon! I was thrilled also to tour their facility which included a beautiful Chapel where they celebrate the Liturgy and the Offices during the day. I saw an Icon there of St. Maximos the Confessor in which he was holding a tray in his right arm with his severed right hand in the tray. I had never seen that Icon previously.
I got to do a full hour TV interview on the Orthodox National TV network while there, which was exciting. The day before that I was on secular national TV (PRO-TV) for a lengthy interview which was conducted at St. Haralambie Parish (reciting the Litany and censing the Icons), at the Cathedral of St. Paraskeva, at the site of our new home, and at the home in which we were staying. The basic questions was: “With many Romanians trying to apprehend the “American Dream” and go to America, why do you and your wife want to come here? What is your “Romanian Dream?” We met with all our friends on various evenings and made the best of those two very short weeks. We had the best pizza at a local Romanian pizzaria. We visited the apartment purchased by the Archdiocese for the Pro-Life dept. in which to house a young girl who has opted to keep her baby and has nowhere to go, since she is acting against her boy-friend’s and famuly’s wishes. A young friend of ours and his wife (Emile, a chanter at St. Haralambie Parish and his wife, Andreea, newlyweds), part of the Pro-Vita dept., live there and oversee the apartment.
The other great highligh of our visit was to have another audience with His Eminence, Metropolitan TEOFAN of the Archdiocese of Moldova and Bucovina, the largest Orthodox Archdiocese in the world (over 1400 Priests and 1200 Parishes!). He welcomed us once again to join his “team” in the Pro-Vita (Pro-Life_ dept. and to start a dept. of marital and pre-marital counseling. He also said he would like me to be part of an English-speaking Parish in Iasi for the purpose of ministering foreign visitors who do not speak Romanian and are interested in Orthodoxy. Is it any wonder that I am so excited about beginning a whole new chapter of of our life at the age of sixty-five next year!!! Mary Patty is just as excited about raising her chickens, sheep and goats at home, as well as running a used baby clothes store where women can come and hear about Pro-Life issues and hear English spoken!
Those are the highlights of our recent trip, except to say that we were very, very sad to leave.

Here is the most recent entry from my journals from 2011.

Feb 18: Friday.

Today was a slow day like the last few. I got up, washed and went to breakfast. My friend, whom I met the first day at breakfast, was there again. I had not seen Luminita any other days of the week. She must work on “omelet days” because she offered me an omelet again today. It was really good, especially now that they have ketchup (just for me, I think!). I had some toast with it with a cheese that was in a bowl and spooned into smaller bowls for individuals. I do not know how to describe it except that it is like cottage cheese, only more fluid like a yogurt. It was good on the toast. Before I went downstairs for breakfast, I saw the chambermaid in her room and I asked her in the most awkward way, if there were any washers and dryers where I could do my laundry. She, of course, did not understand me so I pulled on my shirt and then rubbed my hands together like I was washing them. She got the picture and gave me a bag to put it in and I gestured that it would be a large bag and she nodded affirmatively. So after breakfast I gathered all my dirty socks and my shirts and pants and put them into my “darks” dirty clothes bag and took them to her. She looked inside and gestured by tugging on her pants and said, “Pantaloon?” and I nodded affirmatively and she smiled and said, “OK”. I handed her a 10 RON note as a thank you but I had to insist that she take it. These people are very poor but they are very, very gracious and humble!
When I finished that transaction, I came back to my room to see it was after 9:00 AM so I hot-footed it over to Fr. Iulian’s office for the morning. Father told me he read about four pages of my presentation and fell asleep in front of the computer. His daughter had to wake him up. Nevertheless, he said he liked what he read and I told him I was almost finished with it and that pleased him. He was very pleased this morning because the Metropolitan (TEOFAN) had made the public announcement that the Holy Synod had fully approved Floyd’s and Fr. Iulian’s jointly devised AA program for the Patriarchate. Patriarch DANIEL was behind it but Fr. did not realize the Synod had to approve it first. But now it is sanctioned by the Holy Synod and Fr. Iulian’s dream has come true for him and for Floyd. He had Fr. George Aquiro scheduled to address their local AA chapter this afternoon at 5:00 PM (07:00 AM Fr. George’s time) via Skype. Now that that project is safely into the harbor, he has to get everyone on board for pre-marital counseling now! It is a very humbling experience to know that I will be a part of that process! Please pray for me.
Father Iulian excused himself about 11:00 AM after we discussed a You-tube video to which I introduced him. It is about demographics and how, if a culture does not maintain at least 2.11 births per family, it will lose its culture in about twenty-five years. If the birth-rate falls below 1.9, it is almost impossible to reverse, and below 1.7, totally impossible to reverse. The major Western European countries: France, England, Germany, Spain and Italy are all at or below the 1.9, with Italy at 1.1! Their populations, however, are growing rapidly due to immigration, Muslim immigration, and the average Muslim family is reproducing at an average of 8.1 children per family! In thirty years, Western Europe will be all Islamic Republics! Canada is below the 1.9 figure but their population is growing also in the same way. The US is only right at 2.11 because of Mexican immigration (the inherent US figure is 1.8, as I recall). There are about 9 million Muslims in the US right now and that will reach 50 million in twenty years! Father told me that Germany has announced that it has not enough young men and women to maintain an army and they are hiring foreign mercenaries as we speak to have a standing army!
Andreea had to leave the office for a while so I was able to use her computer there in the office. I do not have enough internet strength here in my room to download a large video like that. While there, I was talking with Anca and she told me she is from Suceava (pronounced Soo-chava), the town where the Monastery and Cathedral and relics of St. John the New are located. We went through there on the way to Iasi with the intention of venerating the relics of St. John but we only found the Cathedral and the relics were at the Monastery, and we had no idea where it was located. So we had to bypass that opportunity. Anca has a cute little hat that I remarked you would like very much and she said, “You cannot have it.” I was hoping she could tell me where she got it and I could do some shopping but she said she bought it in Suceava. When I came into the office today, as I hung up my coat, I called Anca’s name and, when she looked at me I tucked her hat under my arm. She laughed and said she would tell me a shop that might have such an hat. Before I left, she offered to help me shop! I need to find an hat like hers and an owl, of course! She E:Mailed me two pictures that I will forward, One is of her and her friends in traditional Romanian dress. The other is of something called “the happy cemetery.” It is a cemetery where someone years ago started a tradition of writing, in verse, the life of the person buried in the grave, and he made the verse funny so people would laugh when they read it. It was, I assume, an attempt to make death not so tragic and the tradition has continued in that cemetery until now. Anca is so cute, when I tell Father Iulian a funny story to illustrate a point, Anca giggles and hides behind her computer screen so no one will see her laughing so hard! I asked her if she liked my stories and she says they are both funny and interesting. It is nice to have someone appreciate my humor!
About eleven-thirty I excused myself to go for lunch and finish my presentation. I had a nice lunch with soup and more pigs in a blanket with polenta, topped off by a nice thick slice of what looked and tasted for all the world like a huge éclair. I just had to have a glass of milk to go with that and I was brought one when I asked. I explained to the young man who brought it that this was a “milk pastry” without a doubt and could not be enjoyed without a glass of milk! Before I left the office I asked Anca to let Fr. know I was at the hotel finishing up and that I would wait for his call to come for my audience with his Eminence, Metropolitan TEOFAN. Father Iulian had said earlier in the day he hoped our meeting with His Eminence would be cancelled because he does not yet have all his ducks in a row. He called me about 4:30 to say the meeting was cancelled because His Eminence had to go someplace suddenly. I told him his prayer was answered! He had forgotten he wanted the meeting postponed and, when he remembered, he broke out laughing. he told me I was free for the week-end and that he would see me on Monday morning at 9:00 AM and to bring my laptop with me. He also said he and Fr. Nicodeme discussed getting a schedule together for me as soon as possible so I could get to work on making presentations as soon as possible. I am all for that! But tomorrow I can sleep in and not have to hear the alarm clock go off!
Since I was free this evening and can sleep in tomorrow, I decided to take a walk around the town tonight about 6:30 PM. I went about for an hour or so and looked into some shop windows. I even found the shop that Anca recommended but all I saw in there were handbags and jewelry and, besides, it was a French store, not Romanian. I ran into a beggar on the way back (male or female, I could not tell) they were asking for money to get their teeth fixed. I carry some rolls in my pocket to give to the poor because Floyd said not to give them money and, never under any circumstances take out my wallet in front of them. They took the roll from me. This one followed me half a block and across the street crying out “Jesus loves you” over and over again and showing me his (or her) teeth how bad they were. He or she finally left me to pursue someone else as I kept saying “No!”
Oh, I forgot to mention that when I came back from lunch, I found the chambermaid’s keys in my door lock. I saw her down the hall and she motioned me to wait. I brought her the keys and she handed me my shirts all hung up and another lady handed me three pair of my pants. I was happy to see them so fast but I was taken aback a bit when I noticed that the pants were all still wet at the upper portions! I put them into my closet and figured they would dry the rest of the way on their own. A few minutes later the rest of my pants were at the door and I was happy, even though they were still damp also. Then I remembered about the socks and that I had not had them returned, but there they were on the other bed paired up and folded for me! I took one pair of pants into the bathroom and hung them by the radiator so they will be sure to be dry by tomorrow. Since I can only wear one pair per day, I should be OK if I dry one pair a day!
That is about all for today, except to say that I cancelled my dinner here at the hotel because I thought with my audience with His Eminence at 5:00 PM, he may invite us to dinner or the meeting may go for a while and I did not know what time I would be there for dinner, if at all. I had a good breakfast and a good lunch so I am well fed for the day without dinner! At lunch today I sat with three ladies; it was the first time I had company with which to dine. I asked if they were visiting and they said they worked at the hotel in accounting. I said, “You take care of the money.” They laughed and said there was no money of which to take care. One girl said there is a financial crisis but she mispronounced the word “crisis” and said what sounded like “Christ”. So I made a joke to them saying that Christ was in the Church but the crisis was in the wallet. They thought that was very funny. I did not have the heart to tell them I was adding to the financial crisis by being here for a month as the guest of the Metropolitan! But it was good to not eat alone as usual.

Finally, here is the homily I presented on the First Sunday following Christmas, 2012.

Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for He Who is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His Name JESUS.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 
Today is the first Sunday following the Feast of the Holy Nativity, and we are, essentially, rehearsing the Christmas narratives once again. This time, however, we are approaching things from a slightly different perspective. The Nativity Feast is centred in the Holy Babe in the Manger, Emmanuel, which is by interpretation, God with us. He is the Son of God Incarnate Who came not only to redeem the world, but, also to demonstrate the destiny of mankind, i.e., human and Divine Nature together in one hypostasis, one person. What the Person of the Christ is by nature, the second Person of the Consubstantial and Undivided Trinity Who took upon Himself a human nature in time and space, we are to become by Grace: a human nature that attains to union with the Divine Energies, i.e., Theosis.
In this Liturgical celebration we focus more upon the “how” of attaining by Grace to the state of Theosis, by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The goal of the Christian life is to attain to union with God. That goal was expressed by St. Seraphim of Sarov who put it this way: “The goal of the Christian life is to acquire more and more of the Holy Spirit.” It all begins with the Catechumenate process; during the induction to the Catechumenate, the Priest bids the Evil One depart from the Catechumen “and give place unto the Holy Spirit the Paraclete.” The Catechumen then receives the Oil of the Catechumens on the forehead and heart with the words “… take unto thee the faith of the heavenly teachings; and be thou such in thy manner of living, that thou mayest now be the Temple of God.”
What is involved in our acquisition of the Holy Spirit is laid out for us in the Epistle and Gospel readings and drawn all together in the Collect.

The Collect identifies the acquisition of the Holy Spirit as the process of adoption into the family of God by Grace. It calls upon “Almighty God” to “… Grant that we being regenerate, and made Thy children by adoption and Grace, may daily be renewed by Thy Holy Spirit.” We first must be regenerated, i.e., born again from above through the Second Adam, Christ. We are naturally generated by the First Adam with a proclivity toward sin, but we are born again from above through the obedient Second Adam. We who were disobedient are reborn to obedience through the Obedient One. We then learn obedience through the indwelling Holy Spirit as St. Peter writes to those who are Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and the sprinkling of the Blood of Jesus Christ.
Even though we are born into the family of God by Faith, we are also placed into the family of God by adoption as well. The metaphor of adoption is employed because we are, as St. Peter calls us strangers and aliens to the family of God. Therefore, we must learn obedience even as Christ Himself, according to St. Paul in Heb. 5:8 did the same: Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.
This brings us to the Epistle reading. In this passage, St. Paul speaks of the training process of sons in the Roman Patrician family. Even though they are fully sons by birth, they must, nevertheless, go through the process of being trained how to become a proper son in the family so as not to be an embarrassment to that family. He writes that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all. It all begins for us with redemption in Christ when God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. We were adopted into the family of God and became heirs, joint-heirs with Christ, and then we were obligated, of necessity, to learn how to become sons of God.
When a Roman lad reached the age of fourteen or fifteen, he received what was called the Toga Virilis, which symbolized that he had reached his maturity and was no longer to be treated as a servant, but as a man. It was a pure white toga which symbolized his having reached full maturity and status as a full family member, properly trained. It is the whiteness and purity of the Toga Virilis to which St. Paul is alluding when he writes of us: And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. The white gown of Baptism is our Toga Virilis and we, from there, acquire more and more of the Holy Spirit by Whom we speak to God in prayer as a favorite son or daughter to their father, calling him “Daddy” with much affection and endearment. The word Abba equates to the word “Daddy.”
As we grow up on our father’s knee, as it were, we learn more and more to please him and make our will correspond to his as heir of the family name and fortune, not wishing to do anything to bring shame to our beloved family. The more we mature, the more we take upon ourselves the characteristics of our beloved father. The greatest compliment anyone could pay to us would be for them to say, “You are your father’s son!” This is tantamount to the Lord Jesus saying of Himself to the Pharisees: I and My Father are One.
Now that we have the theological basis for our liturgical celebration well-established by the Epistle, we turn to the Gospel lesson for a real-life example of what we are saying. This is the precursor to the Nativity depicting the Angelic visit to Joseph, the spouse of the most holy Theotokos.
In Orthodoxy, we highly venerate the Most Blessed, All-Holy, Ever-Virgin Theotokos as the Chief among the Saints. Why do we do this? It is because she is the first human being to have Christ formed within her. She is the Ark of the New Covenant bearing the Incarnate Word of God, just as the Ark of the Old Covenant bore the written Word of God, the Law of Moses. This introduces us to another N.T. metaphor for the Christian life: having Christ formed within the believer in Christ. In Gal. 4:19, St. Paul writes to the Galatians: My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you. This is an expansion upon the words of St. John the Forerunner when he said of the Christ: He must increase and I must decrease. It is the meaning behind the words of St. Paul earlier in Galatians: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
Where does it all begin? It begins with the Holy Spirit: fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for He Who is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. The formation of Christ within the believer in Christ is accomplished by the Holy Spirit! If, therefore, the Most Blessed, All-Holy, Ever-Virgin Theotokos is the Chief among the Saints and the example of humility and faith whom we are to follow, then we must acquire more and more of the Holy Spirit so that Christ will be formed more and more within us. The more Christ is formed within us, the more Christ-like we become. When we reach Theosis, Union with God, which is what God has designed for every one of us created in His Image and Likeness, then, we will be one with the Divine Energies and can say with the Lord Jesus, I and My Father are one (only with a small “o” in “one”).
How does the world see Christ in us? They see Him in the way we act toward others. At the beginning of the Liturgy we hear the words: “Hear what Our Lord Jesus Christ sayeth: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the First and great Commandment. And the Second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two Commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” How do we love God Whom we do not see? We love him by loving our neighbor whom we do see. First John 4:20 tells us this: If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
We were brought up in the Law, so to speak, as St. Paul delineates in the Epistle reading. It was our master, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, until we put on the Toga Virilis in Holy Baptism and Chrismation, and then we were no longer under the Law, but in Christ. In the Gospel lesson, St. Joseph demonstrates this for us when he, being a just man was wont to put Mary away privately. He had the right according to the Law to publicly condemn her and have her stoned to death as an adulteress. It was as he was thinking on these things, i.e., figuring out how he could be merciful to his espoused bride and still fulfill the Law, that the Angel appeared to him and put his mind to rest once and for all concerning Mary: Joseph, thou soon of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for He Who is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His Name JESUS. Joseph was more concerned about the spirit of the Law, mercy and love, than the letter of the Law, vengeance and retribution.

The process of “acquiring more and more of the Holy Spirit” begins with the anointing with the Oil of the Catechumens and concludes with the assumption of a Resurrection Body in the Kingdom of Heaven wherein we will be controlled fully by the Holy Spirit. It is at that time that we will put on the eternal Toga Virilis, the white garment of pure righteousness and holiness. Our life in the Kingdom of God will be completely in the Holy Spirit. Here on earth, according to Lev. 17:11, The life of the flesh is in the blood. In the Kingdom of Heaven it will be in the Holy Spirit. This is, I believe, why the Lord Jesus in the Upper Room following His Resurrection, said to the disciples in Lk. 24:39, Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I myself: handle Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have. He had no more blood in His resurrected body!
For the present, however, our life is hid with Christ in God and we are in the process of “acquiring more and more of the Holy Spirit” which is our task for now. One thing that is not of the Holy Spirit is pride; it was the sin that caused Lucifer, the Chief of the Angels, to fall from his place and become the Devil. Solomon tells us in the Proverbs that Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. So to guard against pride, we keep humility always in at the forefront of our thinking; and the best way to remain humble before God is to remain humble before our neighbor. Remember that every human being, whether rich or poor, righteous or ungodly, wise or foolish, is created in the Image and Likeness of God and is, therefore a living, breathing, walking and talking Icon of God! If that fact alone does not keep us humble, nothing will. Saint Paul says to the Hebrews: Be careful to entertain strangers, for many have entertained Angels unawares.
Lastly, the Holy Spirit Himself is the very Soul of humility. The Lord Jesus says of Him in the Upper Room: when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. It all begins and ends with the Holy Spirit but He is too humble to speak of Himself, only of the things that form Christ in us.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

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Post-election thoughts

The election is now past and, much to the chagrin of people who love this country and that for which it once stood, the results were stunning.  They were stunning because the focus of this nation has shifted dramatically:  there are more people who took the time to vote that believe that this is a nation of takers, than those of us who believe that this is a nation of givers.  In his January 1961 inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy spoke the immortal words that characterized our nation at the time:  “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.”  This was from the mouth of a Democrat.  Just over a generation later the new mantra of the Democratic Party is one-hundred and eighty degrees in opposition to President Kennedy’s words.  Those who were born and educated under the so-called “Great Society” of President Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, are now the voting public and they have been raised in such an entitlement mentality that they have swung the pendulum all the way to the point of abandoning all rationality in regard to economic issues.

They chant the new mantra of the Progressive Liberals:  “Tax the rich;  Tax the rich!”  They fail to understand that, if one were to fully confiscate all the wealth of those who are worth One million dollars or more in the US (so that they have nothing left to tax!), it would run our insatiable government for about two weeks!  The rational answer to our economic problems is cut spending, not “Tax the rich!”  If one in one’s own home and personal family budget earns one hundred thousand dollars a year, but consistently spends one hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year, how long will that family survive when all the credit cards are maxed out and no new ones are available? The only solution is to cut spending!!!  This is the rational approach to the subject.  Rationality, however, has been completely jettisoned in favor of the greed of entitlement, and a majority of our population are now in that camp!  Our nation has morphed into something the founding fathers never envisioned!!!

I grew up during the so-called “Cold War” with the Soviet Union and its allies.  I remember Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the UN one day chanting the words “We will bury you!”  The way in which the Communists envisioned the American Public was as “soft” and “decadent” and, therefore, easily overcome by the more disciplined Communist who had no pleasure in the things we took for granted in the U.S.  Even in the Second World War, the Nazis looked upon the Allies as being “soft” and easily defeated by the so-called “Master Race” of super-human “pure” Arians.  Both times our enemies underestimated our resolve and desire to defend our way of life and we overcame superior odds and an enemy that never played by the “rules.”  We had no desire to appease the Nazis or the Communists by trying to “dialogue” with them;  we recognized them as a threat to our very existence and we acted accordingly and prevailed.  Make no mistake, the Communists we defeated were much worse than the Nazis ever were.  It is a great tragedy and outrage that Hitler exterminated six million Jews in the Concentration Camps, but Stalin exterminated ten times that many of his own people, and no one decries that figure!  When the Russians broke through into Germany from the East at the end of the Second World War, their troops were amazed (literally!) that these lowly Germans actually had bathtubs in their own, individual homes!  The enemy we defeated in the “Cold War” was much more committed to their aim than were the Nazis:  to the Russians, the Germans were “soft and decadent” just like the Western world!

Today, we face another enemy, the militant Muslim that is committed like no other to the conquering of the world, beginning with the U.S. which they consider to be “the Beast,” or “the Great Satan.”  The generation in charge of our nation now is now willing to confront this enemy, nor to even acknowledge them as an enemy.  The Bengazi attack on our Consulate resulting in four dead Americans still has not been called “a terrorist attack!”  We have no resolve in us now, except for the minority of people who still long for the country of our founding fathers.  The majority has caved in to entitlements and truly become “soft and decadent” and, therefore, an easy prey for anyone committed to the cause of overthrowing this once-great nation.  Tried and true military tactics have given way to political expediency and our fighting forces are held captive by a regime that hates this country and the principles upon which it was founded.  And now the majority of the nation’s voting public has the same mind-set and the political clout at the polls to ensure that we will become a nation of debtors under the control of those to whom we have sold ourselves for various, no-good reasons. When they come knocking to exact their “pound of flesh,” we will have no recourse but to hand it over with a whimper and think we have done well by our nation! God help our children and grandchildren who will be, as Vice-President Joe Biden so aptly put it, “in chains.”  The ironic thing is that he and his crown are the ones who put those chains there, even though he tries to blame Conservative Republicans.

In generations past we could, in some measure, count on God as our Strong Ally because we stood for Freedom and Truth for all mankind, including the unborn.  Today, we have no right to even call upon God as a nation (although millions of individuals certainly do!) to “bail us out” because we have broken His Laws, defiled His Statutes, and violated His Covenant with us.  We have chased Him out of our schools at every level, out of government, and out of every other place we can “legally” do so.  It is good that there are still millions of us individuals who reverence God for Who He truly is, but remember, it was to the leaders of Israel, the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Lawyers, the Levites, etc. that the Lord Jesus took His message for formal acceptance or rejection.  When they rejected Him in His mock trial and crucifixion, they rejected Him, even though the people at large regarded Him as a Prophet of God.  It was through them He chose to build His Church and Kingdom when the ruling body rejected Him. Let us pray that there are enough of us left, as at the Oaks of Mamre in the time of Abraham being visited by the three strangers, that He will not destroy this modern Sodom and Gomorrah for the want of a certain number of righteous individuals.  We need to keep asking and bringing that number down, where Abraham left off asking for fear of offending God!  Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?


Last Sunday, the Second Sunday in Advent, I had the privilege of preaching the homily on the subject of “Hope” in the Scriptures.  The Scripture passages were:  Rom. 15:ff and Luke 21:25ff.  I am including my homily here for your enjoyment.  If you find it helpful or uplifting, then “Thanx be to God!;”  if not, then, may God forgive me.


            … whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  X

Here we are just a little over two weeks until the Great Feast of the Holy Nativity.  Our focus is not upon that Holy Nativity but, as Sub-Deacon Tomas so ably point out two weeks ago, is upon the Second Coming of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God.  That is the theme of today’s Liturgical Celebration, the Hope of the attainment to that Blessed Kingdom.

The Collect establishes that this Blessed Hope is firmly ensconced in the Holy Scriptures:  “Blessed Lord, Who hast caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning;  Grant that we may in such a way, hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of Thy Holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the Blessed Hope of everlasting life, which Thou hast given us in our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Amen.”

The Epistle is filled with the word hope.  At the very onset we read:  … whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.  At the very end, in a prayer, St. Paul says:   Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

The first thing we should do is to fully define hope as it is used in Scripture so that we may have a firm grip on that in which we are to abound in this life.  We will also examine it in the context of this Epistle reading and tie it all in with the teaching of the Gospel lesson.  This will strengthen us in our struggle to apprehend that prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus toward which we press.


The word for hope in the N.T. is the Greek word elpis and the verb form, I hope, is the word elpizo.  There are three significant aspects to these words that are important for us to grasp if we are to have a clear and correct understanding of the word hope in the N.T. and in our personal lives.  The first aspect is the fact that hope must have an underlying foundation.  A student, for example, who spends all night at a frat party in lieu of studying for a major exam the next morning may say, “I hope I pass this exam!” but he, in reality, has no “hope,” per se;  he has only, at best, “wishful thinking.”  In a 2nd century letter from a young soldier to his father, we see the verb elpizw used when he writes:  “I hope to be quickly promoted, if the gods will.”  He has been getting good reviews from his superiors and he has a solid foundation upon which to make the statement to his father.  He adds “if the gods will” to suggest that his promotion is a “sure thing,” barring something unforeseen.  The foundation we have for our blessed hope, i.e., eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven, is Christ Himself as St. Paul writes to the Corinthians:   For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

The second aspect of N.T. hope is that it is the only avenue we have to escape the fate to which this world is destined.  Investment brokers, normally speaking, diversify their investments so as not to “put all their eggs in one basket.”  Some of the investments may fail but the majority will do well and the overall portfolio will show a gain.  With N.T. hope we, indeed, put all our eggs into one basket, the Lord Jesus Christ.  In a 4th century letter from a Christian to his sick friend, he writes of Christ in regard to her recovery:  “For in Him we have all our hopes.”  We believe in Christ alone, forsaking all other entities, as the only hope of eternal life.  He is, as St. Paul writes to St. Timothy, … the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

The third and last aspect we must grasp concerning N.T. hope is the fact that it is unseen and unrealized in this life.  We realize the Kingdom of Heaven in many ways in this life, the early Christians and Fathers of the Church certainly did, but the full realization of the Kingdom in which we attain to a resurrection body that is incapable of sin, we will not experience until we are in the very Presence of God Himself.  Saint Paul writes of this to the Romans (8:23ff) when he says:  we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is to say, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope, for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for it? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.  In the N.T., hope is the “carrot on the end of the stick” designed to motivate us to move forward by Faith in our walk with Christ.

To summarize the three aspects of N.T. hope, we can say that it a.) has a real and solid foundation;  b.) is unique and exclusive;  and c.) is fully realized in the future.  In relation to Faith:  we walk by Faith, but we rest in Hope.  The major overlapping of the two concepts of Faith and Hope is “trust.”

The Epistle reading deals primarily with polemics, i.e., those disputes which arise within the Church, as contrasted with apologetics, which deals with others outside the Church.  The debate begins back in Ch. 14 of Romans wherein St. Paul is dealing with the differences in eating habits and feast days within the Church.  He argues that one man eats and/or regards a certain day while another man fasts and/or disregards a certain day, but each does it unto the Lord and cannot be condemned by the other.  He writes in Ch. 14:  Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be upheld: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

This polemic was, I suspect, mostly drawn along the lines of Jew and Gentile, especially since St. Paul concentrates on this diversity in our reading from Ch. 15.  He concludes Ch. 14 with a summary of his argument concerning how faith differs from one man to the next and that each man must follow his own conscience in practice:  Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Lest one misunderstand this teaching, I should add that St. Paul is not speaking of Church-appointed Fasts and Feasts here, he is speaking of everyday practices of individuals.  If, let us say, one person keeps the Lenten Fast during Advent as his own practice, he is not to think ill of those who do less than he.  At the same time, those who fast according to Advent rules are not to disparage him who goes beyond them, nor are they to feel less of themselves.  The Evil One can use any Church ordinance as a wedge to divide, but only if we allow him to do so!

The one thing that remains the same to all in the Church, both Jew and Gentile, is the common hope that we all hold of the Blessed Kingdom of Heaven toward which we all press together.  Sometimes faith and practice can have a tendency to divide if we allow it to do so, but hope always unites us in the bond of our common goal:  to attain the Kingdom of Heaven!  In the pursuit of that common goal, we help one another as we all struggle together.  It is the help we all acknowledge we need to attain to our blessed hope that keeps us together despite differing personal faith in our practice.  This “faith” is with a small “f” and not a capital “F” as when St. Paul write of one Faith in Eph. 4:5 where he pleads for unity within the Church, saying, I beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

This brings us to the Gospel lesson or today.  It was the Holy Scriptures that produced and delineated the hope of everlasting life for us.  We are the Gentiles who, according to St. Paul were without hope and without God in the world.  We were grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel as a wild olive branch, according to St. Paul in Rom. 11.  We now have hope, the same hope of those who are heirs of the Covenants and promises to whom the Lord Jesus was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the Fathers, according to the Epistle reading.

That hope must carry over from within the Church in order to allow us to stand against the tyrannies of the world as described in the Gospel lesson.  This brings us into the arena of apologetics, i.e., the obligation of the Church to bring the Faith of Jesus Christ to a world that is passing away.  There are many billions of people who are still outside the Church and, by extension, still without hope and without God in the world.  Those without hope in the world are left to fend for themselves when great tribulation comes upon them and, not having an anchor of the soul, as St. Paul calls our hope in Heb. 6:19, their hearts will be failing them for fear.  The word heart does not actually appear in this passage.  What it says, literally, is the life of mankind going out from them because of fear.  The will to live is literally withdrawn from mankind because they see no way of escape from the trials and tribulations of life.  In Lk. 23, the Lord Jesus describes these people without hope and without God in the world as saying they wish they had never been born and they ask the mountains and hills to fall upon and obliterate them. Contrast this to the words of St. Paul to St. Timothy:  God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  And with what he writes to the Romans:  … ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, “Abba! Father!”  We are children of the God of hope.

Notice that the Lord Jesus concludes this Gospel teaching with a Parable concerning a fig tree and how it provides signs as to what it is about to do in terms of bearing its fruit.  He likens the fig tree’s signs to the signs in the Heavens that foretell what is about to happen eschatologically speaking.  If a person can read a fig tree, he should be able to read the signs of the realization of his or her blessed Hope of the coming of the Kingdom of God.  Just as the polemic hope of the Gentiles, being included in with the Jews, is based upon the Holy Scriptures, so the apologetic hope of the realization of our redemption is confirmed by the Word of God: Heaven and earth shall pass away:  but My words shall not pass away.


What have we learned from these Scripture lessons today?  We learned that we have both a polemic hope in which we Gentiles have been included in with the Jews and an apologetic hope in which we will overcome the world and its assaults against us.  Now, What do we do with the Blessed Hope we have in Christ?

The answer to this question comes from the First Epistle of St. Peter which is the N.T. Scripture with Hope as its theme.  He expresses this in the opening verses where he writes: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1:3-5).  Notice how St. Peter encapsulates our Scripture reading for today into just three short verses!

He calls our polemic hope an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.  As with any inheritance, we must not let it stagnate, but it must work so as to pay dividends and increase its worth.  This is done by bringing others with us into the Kingdom because of the living, vibrant quality of our hope.  This is why he writes in 3:14f of our apologetic hope When ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.

He says of our apologetic hope, describing us as those, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  The word kept here is the word jrourew which means “to place under a military guard,” i.e., our Guardian Angels, so that the trials of this world cannot reach us to do us harm beyond the permissive Will of God for us.  This gives us all the more reason to be ready always to give an answer concerning our living and abundant hope in Christ!  The best and only “Thank You” gift we can bring to Christ our Saviour is bringing others to the Kingdom of God who are there because of our living fearlessly in the Blessed Hope of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  X


Finally, I include the next installment of my daily journals from Romania from last year as an OCMC Missions Specialist.  Please enjoy.

Feb. 17th:  Iasi.

Today (actually, yesterday, I forgot to write my journal because I was so busy with my project) was an uneventful day.  I got up, showered, had breakfast and went over to Fr. Iulian’s office at about 9:00 AM.  We talked a little in between his busy schedule.  I went back to the hotel about noon for lunch and to spend the day working on my project.  I worked on it until almost eleven PM when I went to bed dog tired.  I asked that my dinner be only a bowl of soup because I am being fed three times a day and, right now, doing a lot of sitting without much physical activity.  God has been gracious in answering my prayers to keep me healthy despite having picked up a cold.  I never got a sore throat.  The Romanian sinus medication allows me to sleep through the nights.  And the Jesus Prayer has kept me from the wild and frenzied dreams (phantasia) I was having many nights that would torment my sleep and make me get up not so refreshed in the morning.  Thanks be to God!

One thing I did find out yesterday was very interesting.  During the staff meeting on Tuesday, a monk came into the room and acted very strangely (I may have mentioned it).  I thought he was part of the group;  he greeted everyone and everyone seemed to know him.  The odd thing was that he appeared to be more disruptive to the meeting than to contribute to it:  he bounced around from person to person and did almost funny disruptive things (they are hard to describe now) and then abruptly left without having said anything in the meeting, only privately to individuals.  Yesterday, I had the feeling that this was a “Fool for Christ” and I asked Anca about it.  She and Fr. Iulian said that he was a Monk from a local Monastery and had an interest in the youth of the Archdiocese and that he could very well be characterized as a “Fool for Christ.”  He and Fr. Iulian are very good friends and he shared with me that he (Fr. Lawrence, in English) has done things like rummaged through dumpsters and other things and has had success in his pursuit of holiness over his peers and even his mentor.  So, on Tuesday, I met a genuine “Fool for Christ” in the tradition of St. Simeon the Stylite and others.  Thanks be to God I was able to recognize him as being what he is and may God bless his ministry which is a very difficult one!



Cave of St. Andrew, the First-Called.


Altar in St. Andrew Cave

Altar in St. Andrew Cave





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Tuesday is election day.  This election is a water-shed moment in the history of the United States;  it will largely determine the fate of the United States of America and the fate of our children and grandchildren.  If Barack Husein Obama is reelected, our grandchildren will be saddled with a debt they cannot possibly pay.  We will become a third-world debtor nation that will be subject to the whims of those nations and ideologies that are opposed to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  If you who read this blog are an American citizen with the right an privilege to vote, then get out and exercise that right and privilege!  No matter how one votes, liberal or conservative, capitalist or socialist, as long as one votes with one’s head, i.e., having thought the issues through thoroughly and come to a logical, satisfying decision, then one is exercising his right and privilege correctly and honorably.  Those who vote one way or the other based upon wholly superficial criteria, i.e., skin-color, religion, political party, etc., deserve what they get.  Those who vote for wholly self-serving reasons, totally ignoring the country as a whole and its future, also deserve what they get.  If this nation falls from its position of prominence, where else will the world’s poor and oppressed turn for relief from those parameters that keep them from realizing their human potential.  If the brightest beacon of freedom and liberty is extinguished for the sake of political expediency by a selfish few, the humanity will be that much closer to global chaos at the hands of myriads of self-serving dictators.  I see the newest hit TV show, “Revolution” as a “snap-shot” of the world with an enslaved United States of America!  The bottom line is this:  Go to the polls and vote; and when you do, do it having thought it through completely and unselfishly.

I had the privilege of preaching the homily at our Parish of St. Michael a few Sundays ago (Oct. 14th) which was Trinity Eighteen.  I will enclose it here since it deals very much with the issue of choosing reason over emotion when setting the will in motion.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did preparing and delivering it.



I thank my God always on your behalf, for the Grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in everything ye are enriched by Him, in all reason, and in all knowledge; … Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen X

This eighteenth Sunday following Trinity Sunday liturgical theme brings us face to face with a subject that is near and dear to me, that of exercising and acting upon what we know to be true as opposed to that which we feel at a given moment.  This distinction is made very clear in the Collect:  “Lord, we beseech Thee, grant Thy people Grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil;  and with pure hearts and minds to follow Thee, the Only God;  through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.”

The world, the flesh and the devil represent the three enemies which the Christian must face on a daily basis.  If these temptations were just intermittent, that would be one thing, but we are constantly being bombarded by them every moment.  If anyone lets down their guard momentarily, then anyone, great or small can easily be seduced and fall as did Eve and then Adam in the Garden of Eden.  They were in a perfect environment and conversed face to face with God on a regular basis and they succumbed;  so how much more must we in a fallen world be diligent in our defense against them?


In order to know how to fight an enemy, one must be thoroughly familiar with who or what that enemy is.  If we do not know against whom we are fighting, then it is difficult to be successful!  The enemy in this case is the passions within us, so, in essence, we are actually fighting against ourselves.  It is like the famous words of the cartoonist Walt Kelly who authored the comic strip “Pogo” when he had his title character say, “We have met the enemy and he is us!”  Saint Cyprian of Carthage put it this way when he wrote:  “He who conquers one opponent proves himself stronger than another, but he who conquers passion proves himself stronger than himself.”

Now that we have identified the passions within ourselves as the enemy, let us examine them to see what they actually are and from whence they came.  In the original creation, man was created with holy virtues which were a mirror of God’s Attributes in Whose Image and Likeness we were formed.  Describing these holy virtues and their corruption, St. John Climicus says:  “We have taken natural attributes of our own and turned them into passions.”  When Adam and Eve fell in the Garden, the holy virtues were turned into the passions:  that which was a reflection of God in us and drew us closer to Him became the thing that now repels us away from God!  Citing a few examples of this perversion of the holy virtues, St. John also says:  “The seed for childbearing is natural in us, but we pervert it for fornication.  The anger which God gave us against the serpent, to wage war against the devil, is natural, but we have used it against our neighbor.”

When Adam and Eve fell, another transformation took place in the human soul that was just as deadly to us as the perversion of the holy virtues into the passions.  The human soul is composed of two separate sections, the intelligible or knowledgeable part and the passible or sensuous part.  This latter sensuous portion is divided into two parts:  the appetitive or desirous part which is now home to the passions of lust and self-desire, and the incensive or emotive part which is now the source of anger, hatred and rancor.  Before the Fall, the passible parts of the soul were under the control of the intelligible part of the soul, and the intelligible part of the soul was subject to God via His direct communication with Adam and Eve through the nouV, the “window of the soul.”

In their pre-Fall relationship with God, Adam and Eve were fed by God through the nouV and the rest of the soul of man was fed and controlled by the intelligible part.  Mankind was sufficient within himself and God:  the nouV fed the soul, the soul fed the body and man did not have to look outside himself and God for anything.  When the Fall occurred, the nous was turned inward on itself, thereby closing itself off from God.  The soul was no longer being fed and therefore the soul could no longer feed the body.  The body, therefore, turned outside of itself to the world in order to be fed (the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life).  The soul, in turn, was of necessity now needing to be fed by the body, so the body was forced to continually draw from the world to satisfy its voracious demands!  The result was the fact that the intelligible part of the soul lost its control and it was now being controlled by the passible parts of the soul!

We are now creatures of feelings and passions rather than rational creations in the Image and Likeness of God.  As my mentor, Fr. John Downing taught continually, we must separate feelings from thoughts and value judgments.  He used to correct us who were part of his Committee on Marriage and Family, whenever we would say something such as, “I feel we ought to have a presence at the Parish Life Conference.”  He would say, “no, you think we ought to have a presence!”  We so often confuse feelings with thoughts and value judgments so that we no longer understand the difference between the three of them.  Try that little test with yourselves and others, how often do you or others with whom you speak say feel when they mean think or believe.  I once had a well-intentioned friend tell me, “Never say ‘I think,’ always say, ‘I feel;’  that way no one can hold you responsible for what you say!”  I had just barely met Fr. John when my friend said that to me, but I can imagine how he would have reacted to that statement!

Going back to the words of the Collect, “the world, the flesh and the devil,” we can now see how these three entities interrelate.  The flesh within us lusts after the things of the world which are in the control of the devil.  These are the things in which we are immersed every second of every day!  All of these things are emotion/feeling based and they cause us to suppress the intelligible part of the soul that needs to be in control.

Whenever I speak to Church people, young people especially, I use an illustration with an alarm clock to show the need for the intelligible part of the soul to be in control of the passible parts.  I ask them, “When the alarm goes off in the morning for work or school, do you joyfully jump out of bed and sing the praises of waking up in the morning?  Or do you say nasty things to the alarm wishing you could throw it out the window?”  They always affirm the latter!  Then I ask them what happens next. Do you not see your intelligible part “kick in” and tell you, “If I do not get up I will no longer have a job or I will fail my classes.”  They invariably get out of bed and perform their prescribed duties as they ought, in a rational, reasonable manner.  This shows them that they do have victory over the passions if they desire it enough and a light goes on in their heads that this has relevance in the “real world!”  They “get it!”

The main point I specifically try to get across to young people when I speak to them is the fact that the world in which we live is not the ultimate reality;  our “ultimate reality” is the Kingdom of God and His righteousness after which we seek.  Our understanding of that Blessed Kingdom is not one of feelings and emotions, but one of knowledge and experience.  When we are assaulted by the world because of the attractions from within us, i.e., the lust of the flesh, we are to counter that with what we know to be true from our experience with Christ!  This is exactly what St. Paul is saying to the Corinthians in the Epistle Reading:  That in everything ye are enriched by Him, in all reason, and in all knowledge.  The word reason (utterance in the KJV) is the word logos, which we recognize as “word.” In its derivation, it means “a collecting of things” which can be understood as taking what we know, i.e., the words we have heard, and collecting them into a rational whole, like marshaling one’s arguments for a debate.  The word knowledge is the word gnosis which denotes experiential knowledge as opposed to intuitive knowledge:  teaching and experience.

In Phil. 1:9, St. Paul writes:  And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.  We say that “Love is blind” and we consign love to being only an emotion, a passion, but is it really as St. Paul has used it here?  The word knowledge here is the intensified form of gnosis, epignosis, which should be translated full-knowledge.  The word judgment here is the word aistheisis; it denotes “perception by the intellect, discernment.”  And what is the purpose of love being full of knowledge and discernment?  He tells us in vs. 10:  That ye may approve things that are excellent.  And, by inference, reject those things that are intended to destroy us:  “the world, the flesh, and the devil,” i.e., the passions.

In 1Kgs. 19, Elijah has just come from a great victory on Mt. Carmel over the Priests of Baal, and King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, threatened his life.  He flees to the mountains and into a cave to hide for fear of his life where he tells God why he is there:  I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, thrown down Thine altars, and slain Thy Prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.  He forgot how God had just given him great victory and let his emotions rule him!  How does God answer this “poor me” complex?  And God said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.  …  Yet I have left Me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.  The still small voice of God is that which overcomes our weakest moments of passion, no matter who we are!

The world, the flesh and the devil try to convince us that Faith in Christ is irrational and more in the realm of the emotional.  Just the opposite is true.  Notice that the Collect put our defense against the enemy in the realm of “pure hearts and minds;” the purification of the heart is the first step on our journey toward Theosis, Union with God.  The way the heart is purified is by the keeping of the Commandments of Christ, which results in the turning of the nouV back upward toward God.  The more we turn the nous back toward God, the closer to Him we draw.  Saint Nicholai of Zica puts the two concepts together when he writes:  “The unholy doubt, not because they are ostensibly more rational, but because they are unholy.  The holier man is always the more rational, for in the clear mirror of his heart he sees the truth.”


In conclusion, let us look at the concrete example from the Gospel Lesson:  Jesus, having put the Sadducees to silence, now proceeds to put the Pharisees to silence as well.  How does He do it?  He does it with pure logic from the Scriptures.  The Pharisees knew that a superior would never refer to an inferior as Lord, yet David does so in the Psalms under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  In Ps. 110, he calls His Greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, Lord.  He says to the Pharisees, If David then call Him Lord, how is He his Son?  The result is:  And no man was able to answer Him a word, neither dared any man from that day forth ask Him any more questions.  If we answer our emotional, passionate fears and lusts with what we know to be true from Holy Scriptures, The Fathers, the Church, Holy Tradition and our past experience with Christ, then it will be harder and harder for “the world, the flesh, and the devil” to have victory over us.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you!  Resist him in all knowledge and discernment.

When the Lord Jesus walked on the water in the middle of a storm on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples saw Him and thought He was a ghost.  He comforted them by assuring them that it was He and not a ghost.  They were in trouble and He came to them in the midst of their trouble to offer comfort and good cheer.  Saint Peter said that if it were truly He, then bid me come unto Thee on the water (Mt. 14:28).  Saint Peter was invited to come and he did, walking on the water in the midst of the storm and he remained atop the water.  Then he took his eyes off the Lord Jesus, instead looking at the all the turmoil around him and began to be afraid;  then he began to sink.  He then cried out, Lord, save me! The Lord reached out and grabbed him saying, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?  Saint Peter began in knowledge, let his emotions take control and was finally rescued by returning to what he knew to be true!

Mary Patty suffers periodically from attacks of vertigo.  When she does, she grabs my hand and tells me to hold her up because the room is spinning.  Her inner ear is sending a false message to her brain and she is wont to believe it.  I tell her that the room is not spinning and that she knows it is not really spinning.  It does not do much good because the message she is receiving from her inner ear is so intense, but it does help her to get a grip on her fear of falling into oblivion and it calms her down somewhat.

When the passions within us try to usurp control of us through the emotions and feelings, it is time to marshal the rational part of our souls against them.  Has not the Lord Jesus told us, I will never leave you nor forsake you?  Do we believe it or is it just a platitude for Sundays?  In the words of a book title by Dr. Francis Schaeffer, our God is The God Who is there.  He has always been there in our knowledge and experience, all we need to do is think about it for a minute.  What we have always known will always overcome what we feel at any particular moment!

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  X


Finally, I want to include the next installment of my daily Romanian journal from last year.  As those who have read this blog consistently know, Mary Patty and I visited for three weeks in May of this year.  We have fully purchased our property in Iasi and have obtained our Archbishop’s blessing to move there in the Spring of 2014, Lord willing. We are planning, again, Lord willing, to visit again in January or February of 2013 so as to see how Mary Patty does in the snow and cold weather.  At that time we will, Lord willing, finalize the design for our new home.  Please enjoy this next installment of my daily journal from 2011.


Feb 16:  Wednesday, the Hierarchical Liturgy without the Metropolitan.


Today was another day to remember.  It began very early in the morning with liturgy at 06:30 AM with Fr. Iulian, Fr. Nicodeme and another Priest of whose name I am not sure.  He does not speak much English but he always seems to laugh when I make a joke, so I think he understands but cannot articulate in English.  Their Deacon was ill this morning and so I did the best I could to fill in.  Father Nicodeme was the chief celebrant and he said I should only do two Ektenias because the Faithful are not used to hearing the Liturgy in English and may be confused.  We celebrated in the new Church of St. Paraskeva;  it is only a bit less than 200 years old!  We finished Liturgy and went to the Metropolitan’s offices where we were served a delicious breakfast:  fried eggs, about half a dozen different cheeses, about five different meats (this is a Bright Week because the last Sunday was the Publican and the Pharisee), radishes, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and toast with a cup of warm milk.  It was really good!  Afterward I met another Priest who is the Metropolitan’s secretary.  I get to meet His Eminence, Metropolitan TEOPAN on Friday when he returns from the Synod meeting.  The dining room was magnificent and we were served by a Nun, Maică Catherine, the Metropolitan’s sister.  Father Nicodeme had a little trouble expressing himself to me on the way out and he asked if I spoke French, I told him “un petit peu.”  So he said what he wanted to say in French and I got it pretty well!

When we left, Fr. Iulian excused himself to take care of an urgent matter so he sent me back to the hotel to work on whatever.  Father Nicodeme told me over breakfast that he was going to work me pretty hard and I repeated my line that I am here to be “used and abused.”  That is when the other Priest laughed.  I am just so anxious to get busy again!  I came back to my room and laid down for a rest but before that I realized my phone was dead so I plugged it into the wall to charge.  What I did not know is that it died so much it turned off and I did not know I got several calls while I was asleep.  The young man I met yesterday at the staff meeting, Mihai, came up and knocked on my door to tell me Fr. Iulian was calling me.  I was embarrassed to say that I was not sure why I did not get the calls until I realized the phone had turned completely off when it died.  I quickly got in touch with Fr. Iulian and he gave me my first assignment:  I am to write a presentation on why there needs to be pre-marital counseling in the Archdiocese of Iasi.  Father is going to take what I write and put it into a power-point presentation to be presented to the over 1400 Priests at the Archdiocesan meeting on May 14th.  He says there are a lot of Priests opposed to pre-marital counseling (I just cannot understand why???) and that he needs this to be a convincing tool to sway the opinion of many.  It is strange, Floyd worked for years to establish the St. Dimitri program with its twelve-step program but could not get the Priests on board until Fr. George Aquiro came here and spoke to them about it.  That got him over the hump, so to speak.  This is a big assignment for me and I am feeling my inadequacy even as we speak.  I am five plus pages into it so far and, thanks be to God it is flowing smoothly, so far.  Pray for me!

I had slept through lunch and was upset with myself for not having shown up for it or called to say I would not be there.  I was already working on my project so I decided to plow on through until dinner.  I went down for dinner at six and ate a simple meal of a piece of chicken, some green beans, rolls, and a nice pastry dessert, and water (with gas).  I had agreed to meet with Mihai after dinner so we could talk and he came up to my room about 7:00 PM and stayed until almost 10:00 PM.  He is a theological student getting his master’s degree in practical theology.  He has been a singer and chanter in the Cathedral for five years.  He told me about his home town about 150 Km from here and even showed me pictures on the city’s website on the internet.  It looks like a beautiful place, very scenic with mountains around it and a lake.  It also has an overhead gondola ride that takes tourists through various parts of the city.  It looked really inviting.  He was asking about the Western Rite and I showed him my English Office Noted and we chanted several Psalms together.  He chanted (sang) Ps. 34 to me in Romanian from memory (it is his favorite);  it was beautiful.  We also talked about his fiancée, Stefana, who is studying to be a Veterinarian.  He knew her from several years ago and saw her in line to venerate St. Paraskeva and took a chance and began a conversation with her.  Now they are engaged with the Metropolitan’s blessing.  He wants to introduce her to me and I cannot wait because he describes her like an angel!  Mihai is in charge of the organizing youth camps for the Archdiocese while he goes to school.  he is 26 and Stefana is 24, just right.  Mihai’s brother (his only sibling) lives in Spain with his wife and children and has been there for ten years.  His dad (Mihai, also) passed away eleven years ago when he was 15.  I can tell it was a great loss to him by the way he talks about him.  His mom is on an extended stay in Spain with his brother so no one is at home in their beautiful home town.  Mihai wants to be a Priest and will make a fine one, I am sure.  He was not worried when all of his mates (as he calls them) were getting married and he was not.  He said that he thought to himself, “I am twenty years old and know nothing about marriage or the Priesthood;  why should I enter into things I know nothing about so young?”  He has a good head on his shoulders and will do very well, especially with a very spiritual wife to help him along!


Mihai and Stefana wedding


the four of us in May


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Free Will in mankind

It has been a long time since I have posted.  I remember when I first opened this post with much fear and trepidation since I am neither a technophile nor the son of a technophile.  My great desire to share some thoughts, however, drove me past my reluctance to get in over my head, and I began posting.  At first, of course, I was very eager and, with a great sense of accomplishment (due in great part to my friend and God-son, Nathan Jones), I posted regularly at the onset.  Now that I am a “veteran,” the posts do not come so often because the cares of the world crowd out what I would love to do;  necessity takes over and leisure takes a back-seat, unfortunately.

It is not that I have not been writing;  I have.  I have completed at least two book-length manuscripts and have a third in the works as I speak.  I have not been working on it for a while either because of daily responsibilities and the summer heat, which has been stifling of late!  My latest work in progress is a study of selected miracles of Jesus to determine if He healed people from the perspective of a Conservative Republican or a Progressive Liberal Democrat.  To put it simply:  did He teach them to fish so that they may feed themselves on their own or did He keep giving them fish every day to feed them?  I exegete the passages from the original Greek to get a feel of what was happening and then I consult the Holy Fathers as they comment on those same miracles.  I especially feature St. John Chrysostom who was the champion of the poor and needy in his time;  so much so that he was exiled twice by the Emperor’s daughter for preaching against their “high living” in the face of so many poor in the city of Constantinople.  I did not “cherry-pick” the healings;  I chose first of all, those that are recorded by only one of the Holy Evangelists so that it could be seen purely from that one perspective:  first, St. John 5:1-9, then St. Mark 7:31-37, then St. Luke 13:10-13, then St. Matthew 9:27-34.  This is where I am currently, in St. Matthew.  After that, I was planning to include the healing of the lame man at the Temple steps by St. Peter in Acts 3:1-26.  The whole idea came to me from a statement made by President Barack Obama, who said that “Jesus would be proud of and approve of the way” he is robbing the rich to give to the poor.  When a man as ungodly as he (promoting same-sex marriage and even killing live children that survive abortion attempts!) uses the Lord of Glory to promote himself, I take offense and felt compelled to examine the truth of what he said from the Holy Scriptures themselves!

Well, I had planned to write a little about Free-Will in mankind but I have said enough for now and will try to pick up that subject in the next blog.  I did have the great pleasure of preaching on “The Prodigal Son” a couple of weeks ago during Liturgy and I want to include a copy of that homily now.  I enjoy the great challenge of preaching on “familiar” passages of Scripture so as to make them fresh in the minds of my hearers.  When I prepare a homily, I ask God to teach me something;  when He does, I then have the privilege of sharing it with others as He sees fit.  Please enjoy this homily.  I will then conclude with the next sequential journal entry from Romania last year.

HOMILY FOR THE NINTH SUNDAY FOLLOWING TRINITY SUNDAY – 2012  And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: but no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.    On this ninth Sunday following Trinity Sunday, we find ourselves faced with the familiar account of the Prodigal Son.  This is one of those Bible stories we have heard since our earliest days in Sunday School and I am sure that everyone here has a good working knowledge of this passage of Scripture.  Sometimes, however, familiarity is not such a good thing, as the saying goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt.”  We can easily go onto “auto-pilot” when we hear things to which we are well accustomed and think to ourselves, “I know all about this Parable” and fail to see the newness of God’s Word which He infuses into it every day.  Let us examine it in the context of the Collect and Epistle so that we can gain a fresh “Epiphany” in the midst of this Trinity Season.

The Collect, as we have said many times, sets the tone for the readings and establishes the theme of the liturgical readings.  In today’s short Collect there are two petitions put before God.  The first is for Him to grant us “the Spirit to think and do always such things as are right.” This is really a petition to the Holy Spirit to illumine our minds and souls from within, especially through the Word of God by which the Holy Spirit was the Chief Instrument of its creation.  We read the Holy Scriptures written by the Holy Spirit through righteous men (Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, 2Pet. 1:21) and we pray that that same Holy Spirit, who lives within us, will interpret those Scriptures in our minds.  If we merely read the Scriptures and do not seek to apply them to our lives, then we are like the people St. James describes when he writes:   Wherefore lay aside all defilement and excess of evil, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was (1:21ff).  The Word of God is a mirror into our own hearts and, if we choose to forget who we are, then we become someone whom we do not know and we are deceived by the Evil One unto death.  The Collect even qualifies who we are, describing us as those, “who cannot do any good things without God.”  This is why St. James goes on to say (vs. 25), But whoso looketh into the perfect Law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.  As Holy Baptism cleansed us from our old sins, so the Word of God is like that Holy Water that keeps us clean from those old sins and the new ones that the Evil One tries to foist upon us (That he might sanctify and cleanse it [the Church] with the washing of water by the Word, Eph. 5:26).  The second petition in the Collect is that we “may be enabled to live according to the will of God.”  This is only possible if we let the Word of God dwell richly in us in all wisdom (Col. 3:16).  We must always seek and expect an “epiphany” from God through His Word, even in the most familiar of passages!  Once the theme is established and expressed by the Collect, then the doctrinal expression of that theme is put forth by the Epistle.  Today’s Epistle is St. Paul admonishing the Corinthian Church concerning Israel’s disobedience to the Word of God through Moses in the wilderness.  To summarize the Epistle, St. Paul says all of the Israelites had the benefit of being part of the great miracles God wrought to free them from the oppression of Egypt.  Notice the emphasis in the first four verses on the word all:  they all had the same advantage, even drinking from the spiritual Rock, which was Christ.  Then St. Paul shows that there was a great division between the people:  God was not well-pleased with some of them.  He destroyed idolaters, murmurers, and fornicators.  Why did He destroy them?  He destroyed them because they longed to go back to the flesh-pots of Egypt (Ex. 16:3).  They did not care to be cleansed by the Word of God and taken to the Promised Land, but wanted to return to their old sins.  They were as St. Peter, quoting Solomon, says of such people:  it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire (2Pet. 2:22).  The mention of the sow that was washed returned to her wallowing in the mire, is a perfect segue to the Gospel lesson, which is the practical example of the doctrine expressed in the Epistle reading.  We find the Prodigal Son feeding swine in a defiling environment.  This young man suffered a great and very swift fall from the penthouse to the outhouse:  eating pork was forbidden by the Law of Moses and this young man longed just to eat the food that the forbidden swine were consuming!  He could have fallen no lower.  Some people do not realize their true situation until they finally hit bottom and can, seemingly, go no lower.  There are a few, however, who, when they hit bottom, begin to dig even lower.  Fortunately, this young man turned things around at this point.  It is this turn-around upon which we want to concentrate.  The key phrase upon which we will concentrate is And when he came to himself, he said. This is a very simple but profound statement.  Literally, it reads, And into himself coming, he was declaring.  There are two important lessons for us to learn from these words.  The first lesson comes from the word into, the preposition eis in Greek.  This young man had lost his understanding of true reality.  He fell for the lie of the Evil One that the pleasures of sin for a season (Heb. 11:25) were the true reality of life.  A life based upon enjoyment of pleasure is one that is spawned by a dependence upon feelings and emotions, i.e., the passions. That approach to life was expressed perfectly by one of the many mantras of the sixties:  “If it feels good, do it.”  It was the passions that we are to turn back into the virtues with which we were originally created, that drove this boy to demand his inheritance and go off to spend it on riotous living.  The preposition eis indicates a change of spheres, the transferring of something from one sphere to another, different sphere.  He was outside of himself, outside of true reality and he came inside, like a person coming in from the freezing cold into a warm environment.  Saint Luke enforces this idea by using the common verb erchomai which means “to come or go from one place into another.”  He completely exchanged a false reality for the true reality.  This phrase is not, however, the main verb of the clause;  this is a participial phrase, which means that it is only the attendant circumstance of the main verb.  It is a temporal circumstance, thus the word when is added to express the temporal quality:  And at the time when he came into himself, he was declaring.  The second lesson we need to learn from this young man is expressed in the words, he was declaring.  The verb that St. Luke uses here by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is the verb phemi, which means “to declare one’s innermost thoughts.”  It is expressed, not in the Aorist, the simple past tense, but in the Imperfect tense which indicates customary past action.  He stopped relying upon whatever emotion came down the pike at him, and he reverted to what he knew to be true of himself in the simplest of terms:  he remembered he was his father’s son!  How could he have forgotten such a basic, simple fact?  Because he had his mind blinded by sin (the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, Who is the Image of God, should shine unto them (2Cor. 4:4).  The Evil One is able to blind us to even the most basic of truths and, thereby, shut us off little by little from the true reality of life, God’s desire for us to be united with Him in Theosis because we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which He foreordained that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10).  What this young man did was what we all need to do constantly, reject the devil’s lies that come to us primarily through feelings and emotions, and embrace the truths we know “to be self-evident.”  He exchanged knowledge for feelings!  This is what the Noetic Fathers call “Guarding the nous.”  We need to go away from the mirror of the Word of God remembering who we are as we saw our true reflection in that Word.  He first of all remembered that he was his father’s son and that his father was a beneficent man who had plenty to make sure all his hired servants were fully cared for and fed.  He remembered the Word of the Psalmist:  I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread (37:25).  Part of remembering who we are is remembering God Himself since we are made in His very Image and Likeness and were created with the intention of being Deified in Theosis.  The Fathers tell us that the greatest sin we commit, and the one that will condemn us, is forgetting God.  Father Maximos, an Athonite Monk of Cyprus, states in the book, The Mountain of Silence, “The most basic illness that the holy elders talk about is ignorance.  In their language, however, ignorance does not mean lack of the right kind of information or the right kind of intellectual knowledge.  What they really mean is the heart’s ignorance of God. And this lack of direct experience of God renders human beings incapable of knowing what it means to live apart from God.  Consequently, they are not conscious of how abysmal their deprivation and predicament is.”  Does not this describe perfectly the Prodigal Son before he came into himself?  Father Maximos goes on to say pointedly:  “We lost the knowledge of God at the moment when we transformed the Ekklesia (that is the Church) from experience into theology, from a living reality into moralistic principles, good values, and high ideals.  When that happened, we became like tin cans with nothing inside.”  When we lose the knowledge of God, we lose the knowledge of ourselves, and the more we lose the knowledge of ourselves, the more we become estranged from God!

What, then, is the remedy for this “most basic illness” as it is termed by Fr. Maximos?  It is in the content of what the Prodigal Son said to himself.  He said two things, in essence.  The first thing he said was, “My father loves me!”  He remembered all of his father’s kindnesses to him as a boy growing up as the younger son.  He remembered how kind and loving his father was to strangers, hired servants who came and went.  He realized that his humiliating predicament was not the reality of his life, but his relationship to his father was the true reality of his life!  He became like the encouragement to us in an old Kellogg’s Corn Flakes commercial wherein the announcer says of them:  “Taste them again, for the first time!”  The Prodigal Son tasted of his father’s love again, for the first time!  The second thing he said to himself was, “I have sinned against my father and am not worthy to be called his son!”  He exchanged his humiliation for humility and went back, not as a son, but as a servant.  When we come into ourselves, we must stand in front of the mirror of the Word of God as St. James has told us.  We, however, cannot walk away forgetting, but we must take a long hard look at ourselves and God will show us who we really are, so much so that we can never forget.  We can never forget who we are nor Who God is.  At that point we are transformed into a new creation as St. Paul terms it in 2Cor. 5:17. We are transformed in just the same way the Prodigal Son was transformed back from a servant to a son by his father.  He was barely able to get the words of humility and repentance out of his mouth before his father hugged and kissed his neck and ordered the royal treatment for his son who had come back from the dead!  Not only that, but as our Heavenly Father ever awaits our return, his father saw his coming afar off and ran to meet him in the field!  At this point, the boy knew first-hand the Word of God applied to Christ Himself in Ps. 16:10f:  Thou wilt not leave My Soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show Me the path of life: in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  


Before I add the journal entry, I should say that we have made the final payment on our land in Romania and are now working to obtain building permits to be able to build our home there and begin a new ministry there in 2014, Lord willing.

Feb 15:  Tuesday.


Today was different for me in many ways.  I got up, looked at E:Mail;  showered and dressed.  I began the morning with breakfast:  a fried egg, cheese, ham, tomato and potatoes with bread and some milk.


When I finished, I came upstairs to say the Benedictine Offices (it is Tuesday, you know) and then get ready to leave for Fr. Iulian’s office.  It was a brisk 10-minute walk to his office which I found without any problem.  I got there just about nine AM.  He was not in yet so I talked with his two assistants, Andreea and Anca until Fr. arrived.  He came in quickly followed by a number of other people:  Fr. Nicodeme, two other Priests, two young men, Mihai (Michael) and Vlad, and an elderly lady who, I was told, was a PhD in ancient Romanian customs and traditions. This gathering, I was told, was a staff meeting to discuss the various departments and their goals and objectives.  It was all in Romanian but Vlad was going to give me the gist of what was being said.  I was told I was going to be asked for input, so I kept myself in the loop and ready to comment if the finger were thrust at me suddenly.  The discussion centred mostly around the youth groups which are Fr. Nicodeme’s charge.  He teaches Pastoral Theology at the local high school to the seminary students.  He is also an Hieromonk from the Putna Monastery, on loan to the Metropolitan.  He told me I was going to be his “guest lecturer” sometime soon in his classes.  I tried to follow the conversations but it was somewhat difficult because Vlad was explaining while others were talking, so he spoke in a low voice which I had trouble understanding.  When asked, I offered what input I could think of that was relevant.  After the meeting one of the Priests came over to me and thanked me for my input and said that one or two of the things I said, “hit home” with him.  Thanks be to God! Andreea, Anca and I were again by ourselves.  Anca has been married for five months and was asking me some questions about marriage (“What is the one thing that causes marriages to fall apart?”).  I tried to answer her as best as I could and she seemed very pleased with what I said to her.  Andreea has been in the US several times, Chicago, Wisconsin and Detroit and Indiana.  She has friends there with whom she stays.  She asked me how I liked Romania and I told her it was the closest to Heaven I have been.  She said she loved the US very much.  She asked if I would like to live in Romania and I told her that the thought crossed my mind.  We joked about swapping places.  I asked if she had a husband I would have to live with and she said “No.”  So I told her that you would be very happy to swap her for me!  We laughed.  Anca heard what I said and remarked that that was a terrible thing to say.  I told her that that was one of the secrets of our marriage, we can joke with and about one another (to a certain extent, of course!) and have a good laugh from time to time.  She agreed whole-heartedly.

I waited for Fr. Iulian to come back and fell asleep in the chair while the ladies worked.  He invited me to come with him, another Priest and Andrea, to visit a small village an hour and a half outside of town where there was, supposedly, a problem with some Roma People (Gypsies) in a small Parish there.  Part of Fr. Iulian’s responsibilities is to bring the Roma People into the Church in a proper manner and make sure they are not running any kind of scam or anything like that.  We drove over to the Deanery office and picked up an Arch-Priest who spoke no English (the Dean of the Deanery).  We took his car with his driver;  that left room for only Fr. Iulian and me so Andrea and the other Priest stayed behind.  I offered to stay behind and let Andrea go but Fr. Iulian insisted I go.  It was a long ride, especially on the rough roads here, and then we got onto dirt roads that were one-lane in places.  Once, on the way home, we were behind two horse-drawn wagons overloaded with hay and it was one-lane!  The Parish we visited was out in the sticks in a little farming community.  It was a little building between two small houses separated by fences and each of the yards adjacent were filled with chickens and geese.  The whole church was no bigger than the Altar area of St. Michael Parish and they supposedly have about 350 members.  I asked Fr. Iulian about that and he said that they all do not come because they have livestock to feed and chores to do to maintain what little they have on their farms.  It was small and very crude and had a “farm smell” to it but it was the home Parish to many people in that community.  Father took pictures (he put me into one of them) and we squeezed in a local lady into the back seat with us and she directed us to two other locations of Parishes where Fr. took more pictures from the car.  We dropped the lady off right after that and headed home.  They seemed satisfied with what they found out at the little Parish from the people to whom they spoke and who took us inside.

He and I talked in the back seat together on the way back.  He asked me how and why we converted to Orthodoxy and I gave him a “nickel’s worth” (the short version) and told him a few other stories of our journey along the way. Every time I would relate a story, he would ask me if it was all right to tell the Arch-Priest in the front seat.  I told him it was perfectly fine.  I told them about the Romanian Baptist Church just around the corner from our home;  they seemed amazed at that.  We got home and I reminded Fr. to let me know when and where for Liturgy tomorrow morning.  It is at 06:30 AM in the “Old Church” so I need to hit the sack early.  I was speaking with one of the young men, Mihai, about the Western Rite and he is very interested in it and we have an appointment to get together tomorrow afternoon or evening to talk in some detail.  The young men here are so eager to talk in English and learn about the West.  He pointed out that Romania is an anomaly in that it is Latin-based but Eastern Orthodox and Eastern European.  The more I hear about how the Communists pillaged and raped this beautiful country, the angrier I get at the Obama regime that wants to make our country a Socialist country!  Like Rush Limbaugh says, I hope his policies crash and burn!  Tonight’s dinner was waiting for me at seven PM (the time I said I would be here) and it was great:  a pork chop with fried potatoes and red bell pepper, followed by more “pigs in a blanket” with polenta, finished off with a piece of pastry. There was no water or anything to drink, though, so it was a bit dry.  As we were walking to the hotel together, I stopped to give an old woman my rolls out of my pocket from last night’s dinner that I did not eat.  She seemed happy to get them but then followed us asking for money.  Father Iulian sent her away saying she had already received something.  He complimented me for having given her the bread.  There are beggars all over here and Floyd warned me not to give anything to the young ones and that, if I wanted to give something, give it to the elderly who really need it.  He gave me all the warnings.  He said the locals will spot someone like me from 100 meters away and come after me for money.  He said never look them in the eye but do not be afraid of them because they are not violent.  He had one young man approach him Monday and ask for money in English saying he was a student.  Floyd knew that was a lie because students do not beg (they do not need to do so) and he said he was ready to give the boy a lecture about working for a living since by speaking English it meant he had an education and the tools to be able to find a decent job!  He did not lecture him because he and Christina were late picking me up!


Student of the month!


Our Property!


Fr Radu’s home





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