A Time to Grieve

Two photos from one of the world’s current wars: a weeping Iraqi accompanying a truckload of the dead to their burial place, and a grieving American soldier carrying the body of a dead comrade. It’s only the tip of the iceberg. Far more numerous than the dead are those who gravely injured (lost limbs, lost sight, lost hearing). Even more numerous are all those who carry invisible wounds. Several pages of this issue of In Communion are devoted to soldiers whose injuries are to the soul. Recent studies suggest that American soldiers suffering from “post-traumatic stress syndrome” may be as many as one in three.

Environmental cataclysm seems to unite people in energetic response. Not war. Perhaps it is the fact we inflict war on ourselves that makes so many people simply shrug their shoulders and turn the page. We feel both implicated and at the same time strangely powerless. War is an event that, once initiated, even heads of state and generals seem unable to control.

If only because the Liturgy obliges us to, we pray for peace, though in day-to-day life few of us find ways to translate our prayer into action. Perhaps the coming months will see more of us discovering ways to rise to the Beatitude of peacemaking.

Meanwhile, it’s encouraging to how more Orthodox Christians are developing ways of expressing their solidarity with people in pressing need. This issue looks closely at one example, The Treehouse, a project for young mother — often single mothers — founded by St. George Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas.

This issue also includes reflections by Fr. Michael Plekon on not simply saying but becoming the Jesus Prayer as well as a report from Fr. Luke Veronis, a missionary in Albania for many years, on what it means to become a minister of reconciliation.

OPF urgently needs your help

More than ever before, we are in need of your assistance. The bulk of our income is in US dollars while the greater part of our expenses is in euros. As you probably have heard, the past two years has seen a dramatic erosion in the value of the dollar. The euro used to be worth about 80 US cents; now it takes 50 cents more — $1.30 — to buy a euro. This shift that has hit OPF hard. It has meant a substantial drop in income, when measured in euros, and the rapid evaporation of our extremely limited reserves. Thus we appeal with urgency for your response to this letter. If at all possible, send more than you have in the past. Annual subscription payments alone are not nearly enough to pay our bills. Keep in mind that we now we have a staff person on each side of the Atlantic and now a web master, Makarios de Groot in Greece, helping with the OPF web site. There is already a community of donors who make monthly or quarterly donations. Might you join that core group? Could you manage $10 a month? Or even $20? It would make such an enormous difference in our capacity to serve the Church. If you can manage, either by payment or pledge, the equivalent of $100 or more, you are eligible to receive a gift book.

in Christ’s peace,

Jim Forest, OPF co-secretary