Archive for the ‘October Issue IC 62 2011’ Category

St. Moses the Black A Patron Saint of Non-Violence By Pieter Dykhorst

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

BLACK AS SIN and white as snow. That was Abba Moses, the 4th century, desert Saint, known not only for the dark color of his skin, but the deep stain of sin from which he was eventually cleansed and declared by his Bishop to “be wholly white.” A conspicuously large man with a particularly violent nature, he was once the leader of a gang of thieves, a carouser, and a brawler. Today, the region of Northeast Africa he once called home remains a tough neighborhood, without sufficient resources, and plagued by people who share Moses’ nasty disposition.Also known as St. Moses the Ethiopian, he was for a time a slave in Egypt. Nubia,Egypt, and Ethiopia (Moses was by one account, Nubian) together covered an area with a length nearly equal to the distance from San Francisco to New York, or from Gibraltar to Kiev, so it is difficult to say exactly where Moses was from, but we know from tradition that his robber gang traveled up and down the Nile, near the vicinity inhabited by the desert monastics. It was in the valley Wadi al-Natrun, then known as the Scetis Valley (from which we get skete as a type of monastic community), that Moses sought refuge from authorities seeking to capture him. And it was here that he would slowly convert to Christianity and eventually die a saintly Father of the desert Christians.

In the Sayings of the Desert Fathers (also collected under various other titles),we find many stories of the life and words of Abba Moses. Two aspects of his life commend him to us and bring him to the pages of our journal. One is the nature of his life and conversion, notably that he struggled mightily and long with his violent nature, even as a monk, but eventually became known for his non-violence. The second is that he is African, and he is here today to draw our attention to his home in East Africa where millions in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia suffer from violence,disease, and famine.

Moses the man was once the furthest thing from Moses the Saint. An escaped slave, by one account dismissed for theft, he led a gang of 70 in marauding the countryside. In another account, he sought revenge on a man whose barking dog kept him from an intended robbery. He swam the Nile and found the man gone—hiding buried in the sand—so he killed two of the man’s sheep, swam back across the Nile with them, butchered them, feasted, and walked 50 miles to rejoin his gang.Several accounts note how for years he struggled with temptation to return tohis robber life after he had chosen the monastic way. Once, while alone in his cell,four robbers attacked him. He whipped them, tied them up, slung them over his shoulders and took them to the church where he dumped them, declaring that it was un-Christian to harm them and inquiring what to do with them. When the attackers found out who he was, they repented and joined the community.The Sayings include several stories of Moses’ struggle to keep his peace. In one account, he was insulted and abused but did not respond. When asked if he was as calm on the inside as he appeared on the outside, he replied simply no. Another time,a monk asked his own spiritual father, with specific reference to Abba Moses’ habitual outward calm, what was the value of outward peace if there was no inward peace. The simple reply was that while not perfect, outward calm prevented harm and facilitated God’s grace to others.

An aspect of Moses’ learned humility is captured in a story in The Sayings of the Desert Fathers and is found on the icon on our cover. The story comes in a few form sand recounts a time when Abba Moses was asked to come help settle a disputes involving an offense committed by another brother. St. Moses refused. Eventually,he was prodded to come, so he arrived with either a basket or a sack on his shoulder width a hole in it, trailing sand behind him. When asked what this meant, he replied,according to a different version, “My sins run out behind me and I do not see them,and today I am coming to judge the errors of another.” At his words, the brother was forgiven, restored, and the meeting dismissed.

A deeply moving account tells of the day when “the barbarians” came to the monastic valley and Abba Moses was warned to flee. He refused. He told the monks under his care—the same number as his gang of robbers in his earlier life—to take care for themselves. They asked him again, would he flee? He stood his ground. They asked why, and he responded, neither hostile as in his past nor hopeful with the memory of when the four attacked him in his cell and were captured for Christ, but with clarity of understanding: “I have been expecting this day to come for many years past, so that might be fulfilled the command of our Redeemer, Who said, ‘Those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.’” He welcomed the visitors on that day to his community, and they killed him, along with the seven who stayed with him. His witness to us is not one of a gentle temperament, not one of naïve hope that those who do not live by the sword shall live long and in peace, but that faithfulness carries a price, as does sin. On that day, St. Moses exhibited outward calm but stood with perfected, inward peace. To some, St. Moses is appropriately the patron saint of non-violence.

But St. Moses is with us in this issue of In Communion for another reason. Quite simply, as he learned kindness, generosity, and hospitality during his long struggle to overcome his own violence and gluttony, he calls to us with a plea to share in prayer and hospitality with those who suffer in East Africa under the worst drought in decades. This has been much in the news, and we have included an item in our own news section, so no more will be said here. We ask simply that each of you would pray with St. Moses for the people of East Africa, that they may find peace and provision for their bodies and souls. And, if you are able and choose to, please consider contributing to International Orthodox Christian Charities (or to any other reliable charity you might prefer), which is working in the region to alleviate immediate suffering and on long term solutions to mitigate the impact of the natural draught cycles that affect the region. Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences,perhaps even a prayer, with the Fellowship on our blog.

St. Baromeou Monastery in the Scetis valley where the relics of St. Moses rest.Photo used with permission by A. Kahzarian

St. Baromeou Monastery in the Scetis valley where the relics of St. Moses rest.Photo used with permission by A. Kahzarian

 

❖ IN COMMUNION / issue 62 / October 2011

Letter from the editor by Pieter Dykhorst

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

LAST ISSUE, JIM wrote a letter of farewell as our editor, now I write to greet you. I wish him many years as associate editor and semi-retired author not only so that he may continue to bless his readers but as evidence that thegood work he began here is continuing well. May the Lord bless him, his future work, and ours as we continue In Communion and in communion.

It is with sincere gratitude and humility that I accepted to become your new editor.We are a small fellowship and a humble journal, yet the OPF and In Communion have made significant contributions not only to individual lives and to the life of the Church but beyond it as well; I am particularly aware of how much each of us needs encouragement from one another daily as well as how much work we can do collectively to foster a love of true peace more broadly within the Church and without.

I am happy to be part of the effort and pray for the Holy Spirit’s help for all of us.When Jim solicited applications, he carefully asked that any who enquire should have “a deep affinity for OPF.” I revisited much of the content on our website and inour journal before I responded. Mostly, I suddenly doubted that I was made of the proper stuff for the chair I would ask to occupy. I am not particularly pacific by nature:as a young Christian, I read that violent men take by force the Kingdom of Heaven,and without any understanding of the spiritual dimension captured in that verse, I Loved that my Christianity called for the kind of violence I felt within me. Boy, was I misguided! I have learned that God’s way is graced with Life while mine, not so much.A favorite St. Augustine quote, suggestive of God’s kind of violence conquering violent natures, describes what I feel now. “O Lord, Thou did strike my heart with thy word,and I did love thee.” So, indeed, I have a very deep affinity for OPF, but it is by force of will and the love that comes from use that I embrace the principles.

So, what does the change of editor mean practically for us? You’ve noticed already, I’m sure, with this issue, that while the look of the journal remains essentially the same, a few small changes have occurred. These include some advertisement (unpaid,but we hope for some worthy, paying sponsors), a little poetry, and a contents page.The core of the journal will not change, but around that we will hopefully make additions going forward of the sort that will increase our content, our frequency of publication, our range of subjects and approaches to them, and our circulation. But,we remain for the moment small and not in a hurry. We don’t want growth at the cost of who and what we are or for the mere sake of it, but because we think we have a good thing and want to increase its value and share it with more people.One change you can’t see yet is the addition of a blog where readers can go to addto the conversation or simply read what others are saying. You can do either at www.incommunionrespond.blogspot.com. A change you’ll see next issue is in the letters from readers section. Perhaps you will see your letter there, but first you have to send it to me at editor@incommunion.org.

We are actively soliciting original poetry and also book reviews that are between500 and 750 words that do more than summarize the content of a book. We would like reviews to engage in analysis and explicate the heart of a book. Reviews may be positive or negative—ideally we want to promote works worth reading, but sometimes books not in that category are worth reviewing too, like some movies that are so bad they have to be watched. I’ll be publishing guidelines for poetry soon,but check with me if you have something. If you have a book you’d like to review,drop me a line.

Now, a brief comment on my editorial perspective. We are quite a diverse bunch,but regardless of individual differences of temperament, politics, vocation, or strategic approach to life and work, what binds us is our love for the Prince of Peace And our desire to be fully taken captive by His peace and made into His image as children of the Orthodox Church. It is for this we exist as a Fellowship. In Communion is not a proxy for any kind of political, social, or other agenda. We do not advocate,promote, or subscribe to other than what the Church has been given and what it guards. Nor do we wish to take on the canons of the Church or displace its conciliarity.Yet, though the Gospel doesn’t change, it doesn’t stop transforming us or the world and all that is in it. We are not about hiding our light under a bushel, to quote a childhood song. We believe that it is precisely because of who we are that we must therefore live fearlessly, act courageously, explore boldly, listen carefully, embraced early, and love boundlessly. All this toward and for all human beings and all of creation.

You will continue to see in our pages the same stable, quiet, reflective writing about what the Scriptures, Church Fathers, canons, Saints, icons, and respected contemporary authors say about living and sharing God’s love and peace. You will also see us take on the challenges of learning how to do that in a world where it seems everything that can be shaken is being shaken. Our strategy may include takingrisks or taking stands, holding our ground actively or holding our peace quietly, but we will attempt all in character as a fellowship of Orthodox peacemakers. I could enumerate here all of the important issues we care about, but I deliberately leave them between the lines. Rather, I encourage you to revisit, as I did, our website where who we are, what we stand for, and where we’ve been speak for themselves. And please keep reading.


Pieter Dykhorst


❖ IN COMMUNION / issue 62 / October 2011

 

 

Forgiveness–Finding Wholeness Again By Teresa Peneguy Paprock

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

By Teresa Peneguy Paprock

Slide from presentation by Fr. Morelli.Photo provided courtesy of Teresa Peneguy Paprock

Slide from presentation by Fr. Morelli.Photo provided courtesy of Teresa Peneguy Paprock

IN THE LITERAL sense, “70 times 7” comes to 490. In the spiritual sense, however,it represents infinity. When Jesus Christ exhorts Peter to forgive “not seven times only, but 70 times seven” in Matthew 18:22, he sets the bar for all Christians:Forgive. No matter what.

Just as we do with Christ’s teachings about so many things, however, we tend to qualify his words here. “Oh,” we tell ourselves, “surely he wasn’t talking about forgiving what happened to ME.”But he was. The problem isn’t Christ’s instruction. The problem is that most of us misinterpret the meaning of “forgiveness.” In Western society in particular, the act of forgiveness is often misinterpreted as an act of deliberate amnesia, of martyrdom, or victim hood, a willingness to make oneself vulnerable to manipulation or abuse.

But if we often misunderstand the nature of forgiveness, just what is it, then?And how can we actually make it happen?Forgiveness doesn’t come from a position of weakness; actually, it comes from a position of power. And withholding forgiveness–even for what may be deemed “a really good reason”–is actually toxic to one’s health and soul. “Forgiveness–FindingWholeness Again” was the theme of the 2011 OPF-North American Conference, andparticipants explored what forgiveness is, what it is not, and what it means to forgivetheunforgiveable.”

A traditional Ethiopian coffeewas served to conferenceattendees by members of Fr.John-Brian Paprock’s parishbefore the conference began.The ceremony usuallyincludes the roasting ofgreen coffee beans beforethey are ground, boiled, andserved. A traditional mealwas also served.Photo provided courtesy ofTeresa Peneguy Paprock

A traditional Ethiopian coffeewas served to conference attendees by members of Fr.John-Brian Paprock’s parish before the conference began.The ceremony usually includes the roasting of green coffee beans before they are ground, boiled, and served. A traditional meal was also served.Photo provided courtesy of Teresa Peneguy Paprock

About 30 people attended the event, which was held Sept. 16 to 18 at the BishopO’Connor Pastoral Center in Madison, Wisconsin. This year’s theme of forgiveness was chosen because “it is a topic that has much to do with ‘peace,’” says OPF secretary, Alex Patico. “Conflict between two individuals or two groups can cease, but often the seeds of future conflict are there, ready to germinate at the first opportunity.• Without forgiveness, we achieve only a surface calm, not a reconciliation that is the foundation of true peace.” As with other OPF conferences, this one was designed to explore an element central to how we live our Christian faith, and because forgiveness is such a universal human yearning and concept, we chose to explore how others understand it as well.

The event’s keynote speaker, University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology professor Dr. Robert Enright, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject.The founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, and author of a number of books on the topic, Enright has been a pioneer in the scientific study of forgiveness for more than 25 years. He addressed the group on Friday evening.The earliest account of forgiveness in the Scriptures, he pointed out, is Joseph’s forgiveness of the brothers who sold him into slavery. “His brothers did nothing at all (to warrant forgiveness),” Enright pointed out. “There was no apology, no repentance. Joseph’s forgiveness was unconditional. But had he not forgiven them,the Hebrew nation would have perished.”

Another Biblical model of forgiveness, Enright said, is the New Testament parable of the prodigal son. But, he said, “The Cross of Christ is the best example we have. The Cross of Christ is an example of lavish love.” Enright puts “lavish love” at the root of forgiveness. And he puts forgiveness at the root of global survival. “A lack of forgiveness puts the entire world at risk,” he said. “Humanity will continue to struggle until forgiveness is carried in the human heart.”

Enright’s writings clarify what forgiveness is NOT: forgetting, denial, excusing, or receiving justice or compensation. But there’s another thing forgiveness is not: easy. Enright outlined his “Forgiveness Process Model,” a step-by-step guide to forgiving. After answering some preliminary questions (Who hurt you? How deeply were you hurt? On what specific incident will you focus?), the wronged individual must first“uncover his anger” by recognizing how resentment and obsession is affecting his life.Next, said Enright, the individual must make a conscious decision to forgive. The process involves working toward understanding and compassion, as well as accepting the pain caused by the offense. One emerges at the other end with what Enright calls“release from emotional prison.” This, he points out, is the paradox of forgiveness:“As you give of yourself to the other, you are the one that is healed.”Much of the time, we choose not to forgive because we believe the other person doesn’t “deserve” our forgiveness. But this central idea–that forgiveness actually benefits the one doing the forgiving–popped up again and again during the conference.

Milwaukee attorney Erin Manian, an Armenian American, grew up hearing about a mass slaughter most Americans don’t even know about. Between 1915 and 1923, about 1.5 million Armenians were exterminated under Turkish rule in the Ottoman Empire. They were deported by force, denied food and water, and subjected to burnings, drownings, poisons and sexual abuse.

And yet the tragedy never wound up on the world’s radar. In fact, Adolph Hitler would use it as a model against the Jews a few years later, rhetorically asking Nazi commanders, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”Turkey–the successor state of the Ottoman Empire–refuses to apply the term“genocide” to the victimization of the Armenians, and for that matter, the United States refuses as well. How can a wrong be forgiven if its existence is denied?“Why is a lack of recognition such a barrier to forgiveness?” asked Manian.“Because we think it demonstrates a lack of power. The Armenian people were stripped of power by being displaced from their homeland, by being stripped of 3,000years of history. Another barrier to forgiveness is that we equate forgiving with forgetting. Why would we want to forget? After all, we don’t want a repeat–for the Armenians or for any other people.”

For the survivors of the Armenian genocide–and for their descendants–anger has served as a kind of bond, said Manian: “We fear that if we forgive, if we forget, then we lose that bond–and again we lose power.” But Manian proposes a huge shift in perception: “If we don’t forgive you, then our empowerment is still in your hands.We have the power to forgive regardless of the actions of Turkey.”

Friday evening’s film, The Power of Forgiveness explored the transformative power of forgiveness using a number of real-world examples. The Amish community of Nickel Mines, Penn., gained national attention by its emphasis on forgiveness after10 schoolgirls were shot, five fatally. The film also included “Gardens of Forgiveness in Beirut and at Ground Zero,” and interviews of Thich Nhat Hanh, Elie Wiesel, and Thomas Moore.

The Very Rev. George Morelli, Ph.D., assistant pastor at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in San Diego, addressed the conference Saturday, illustrating how Christ is our model of forgiveness. The model begins with the Godhead itself: “Love is intrinsic to the divinity of the Trinity,” Morelli said. “The depth of the communion of love can’t be understood. Mankind came into existence, but God didn’t need to create mankind–he did it out of love.”

As Christians, we are instructed to hate sin, which Morelli called “an illness and infirmity by which we succumb to our passions and make an evil choice.” He quoted St. Maximus the Confessor, who called evil “a privation of good.” However, he added,in the words of St. Isaac of Syria, “All living creatures exist in God’s mind before their creation.” “What this implies,” Morelli said, “is that their place in the structure of the cosmos is retained even if someone falls away from God.”
So, as in Matthew 5:22-26, we are not to come to the altar while we hold on to anger: “Make friends quickly with your accuser,” the scripture says. But Morelli, who is a clinical psychologist of marriage and family therapy, pointed out psychological as well as spiritual impediments to forgiveness. According to a cognitive behavioral therapy model, cognitive distortions such as “mind-reading,” “fortune-telling,” and“catastrophizing” fuel anger.

For St. John of the Ladder, Morelli said, anger comes down to pride, “the most sinister, fiercest (demon) of all.” And the cure for pride and anger is humility, such as that Christ showed on the cross. “Forgiveness does not mean we have ‘warm fuzzy’feelings toward someone who may have offended us,” said Morelli. “It also does not mean we automatically ‘trust’ anyone to act appropriately. (But) all are to be given respect and courtesy. They are to be prayed for and approached by us in an attempt to reconcile.”

The next presenter, Judith Toy, of Black Mountain, N.C., discussed forgiveness from a Buddhist perspective. Twenty years ago, Toy experienced a nightmare most of us could not begin to imagine: Her sister-in-law Connie and her sons Allen and Bobby were stabbed and bludgeoned to death by the teenage boy who lived across the street. Charles had been a family friend, and no clear motive was ever revealed.He was sentenced to three consecutive life terms in prison.

“Our family was unanimous in not wanting Charles dead–but not out of idealism or pacifism,” Toy wrote in her book, “Murder as a Call to Love.” “We wanted him to suffer long and hard behind bars. For the rest of his days, we reasoned, he should face what he had wrought.” A Quaker at the time, Toy began to study Zen. After several years of meditation, she felt her anger begin to melt away, and she wanted to tell him so–but before she had the opportunity, Charles committed suicide.“Could I have saved him?” Toy asks today. “I mentally put myself in Charles’ cell and hold him in my arms. … (When you forgive someone) the edges between yourself and others begin to blur.”

“Forgiving Dr. Mengele,” the afternoon film, told the story of Eva Mozes Kor, a Holocaust survivor who, along with her twin sister Miriam, was the object of “medical experimentation” by Dr. Josef Mengele at Auschwitz. In defiance of many in the Jewish community, Eva chose to forgive the Nazis–a decision she believed liberated her from victim hood. Eva founded the C.A.N.D.L.E.S. Museum (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiment Survivors) in Indiana. The act of forgiveness allows us to experience paradise now–in this life, said the next speaker, Ágúst Symeon Magnússon, a professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee. “The ancient tradition of the Church of the East places a philosophical and poetic link between the mysteries of forgiveness and paradise,” he said. But “How does one go about forgiving one’s enemies in a way that is appropriate to the spiritual realities in question? As we heard in the preceding quote by John Chrysostom, we must begin at the most basic level, in trying our hardest to not think of any man or woman as our enemy but to try to love them, no matter what they may have done to us or to others.

Magnússon emphasized that such love is not an emotion or feeling. “Rather, we are asked to transcend purely psychological or emotional categories and to enter into the love of God….If we are able to open our spiritual eyes, the eyes of the and see the world and other people not only in terms of rational concepts or emotional categories but in the light of the mystery of the love of God, in light of the fact that have been forgiven, totally and absolutely–if we accept that love–then perhaps a great deal of anger, hurt and bitterness may be swallowed up in the joy and peace that is the love of God. And this is what paradise is. Simply this.”The image of a terrified little girl, running naked from her burning village, is permanently etched in the memories of many of us–however we feel about the Vietnam War or war in general. AP photographer Nick Ut’s Pulitzer Prize-winning shot has been credited with shifting American attitudes against the conflict, hastening its end. But whatever became of the child in the picture?

The final session of the conference focused on the issue of war, and featured the film Kim’s Story: The Road from Viet Nam. Kim Phuc was that “little girl in the photo.”Burned over 50 percent of her body, subjected to 17 surgeries, and used by the Vietnamese government as a public relations tool, Kim Phuc (now a Canadian citizen)bears no animosity toward anyone–not even the people who flew the plane that dropped napalm on her village. A mother of two, she travels the globe promoting forgiveness and peace. The movie was followed by a discussion featuring Phan VanDo and Mike Boehm of the My Lai Peace Park Project.

Those who were able to stay until Sunday attended the Divine Liturgy at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Madison, with Fr. Michael Vanderhoef and Fr.Frederick J. Janacek serving. Inside the church, they were surrounded by the iconography of David Giffey, a member of the congregation as well as a member of Veterans for Peace.

It was the perfect conclusion to the conference, which opened minds and hearts.For Christians, forgiveness is not simply an option, it’s an imperative–and not except when it’s too hard, but especially then. As Morelli put it: “Those who have offended most egregiously and performed the most horrific of offenses are to be loved the most.”

The dome of Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Madison along with all the icons in the church were painted by David Giffey over a period of four years of full time work. David is a member of the church andis a Vietnam vetand a journalist.  Photo provided courtesy of Teresa Peneguy Paprock

The dome of Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Madison along with all the icons in the church were painted by David Giffey over a period of four years of full time work. David is a member of the church and is a Vietnam vet and a journalist. Photo provided courtesy of Teresa Peneguy Paprock

 

❖ IN COMMUNION / issue 62 / October 2011

 

Forgive Us…as We Forgive: Forgiveness in the Psalms and the Lord’s Prayer by Met. Kallistos Ware

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

by Met. Kallistos Ware, Metropolitan of Diokleia

And throughout all Eternity I forgive you, you forgive me.As our dear Redeemer said:“This the Wine, and this the Bread.”—William BlakeThe stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naïve forgive and forget; the wise forgivebut do not forget.—Thomas Szasz

HE IS FREE because he forgives. In the book by Kevin Andrews, The Flight ofIkaros, there is a story that sums up the essence of forgiveness. Andrewswas studying medieval fortresses in Greece. The year was 1949. He wastraveling through a land devastated by the German occupation during the SecondWorld War and cruelly divided by the post-war struggle between Communists andanti-Communists that had only just drawn to a close. Arriving one evening in a village,he was given hospitality by the parish priest Papastavros. The priest’s house had beenburned down, and so he received his guest in the shed that was now his home.

Gradually Andrews learnt the priest’s story. His two eldest sons had joined theResistance during the German occupation. But, some villagers betrayed their hidingplace: They were captured and never seen again. About the same time, his wife diedfrom starvation. After the Germans had left, Papastavros was living alone with oneof his married daughters and her baby son. She was expecting her second child in afew weeks. One day he returned home to find his house in flames, set on fire byCommunist partisans. “I was in time,” he recounted to Andrews, “to see them dragmy daughter out and kill her; they shot all their bullets into her stomach. Then theykilled the little boy in front of me.”

Those who did these things were not strangers coming from a distance, but theywere local people. Papastavros knew exactly who they were, and he had to meetthem daily. “I wonder how he has not gone mad,” one of the village women remarkedto Andrews. But the priest did not in fact lose his sanity. On the contrary, he spoketo the villagers about the need for forgiveness. “I tell them to forgive, and that thereexists no other way,” he said to Andrews. Their response, he added, was to laugh inhis face. When, however, Andrews talked with the priest’s one surviving son, thelatter did not laugh at his father, but spoke of him as afree man: “He is free because he forgives.”

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

Two phrases stand out in this account: “There exists no other way,” and “He is freebecause he forgives.” There exists no other way. Certain human situations are socomplex and intractable, so fraught with anguish, that there exists only one way outbut to forgive. Retaliation makes the problem worse, as Mahatma Gandhi observed, “An eye for an eye leavesthe whole world blind.” Solely through forgiveness can we break the chain of mutualreprisal and self-destroying bitterness. Without forgiveness, there can be no hopeof a fresh start. So Papastavros found, faced by the tragedies of enemy occupationand civil war. Surely his words apply also to many other situations of conflict, notleast in the Holy Land.

He is free because he forgives. In the words of the Russian Orthodox starets StSilouan of Mount Athos (1866-1938), “Where there is forgiveness…there is freedom.”If only we can bring ourselves to forgive—if we can at least want to forgive—thenwe shall find ourselves in what the Psalms call a “spacious place” or “a place ofliberty”: “We went through fire and water, but Thou broughtest us out into a placeof liberty” (Psalm 66:12). Forgiveness means release from a prison in which all thedoors are locked on the inside. Only through forgiveness can we enter into what StPaul terms “the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21).

Yet how hard, how painfully hard, it is to forgive and to be forgiven! To quoteanother Russian Orthodox witness, Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh (1914-2003),“Forgiveness is not a little brook on the boundary between slavery and freedom: Ithas breadth and depth, it is the Red Sea.” “Do not think that you have acquired virtue,”said the Desert Father Evagrius of Pontus (346-99), “unless you have struggled for itto the point of shedding your blood.” The same can be said of forgiveness. Sometimesthe struggle to forgive is indeed nothing less than an inner martyrdom, to the pointof shedding our blood.

FORGIVENESS SUNDAY IN the Orthodox Church: How shall we set out in ourexodus across the “Red Sea” of forgiveness? Let us consider first the way inwhich the Orthodox Church offers to its members an annual opportunity tomake a fresh start on what is known as “The Sunday of Forgiveness.” This will leadus to look more closely at forgiveness in the Psalms and especially in the Lord’s Prayer.What, we may ask, is the meaning of the Greek verb aphimi used in the Lord’s Prayerfor forgive, “let go”? Does this mean that to forgive is to condone, or at any rate toforget? Next, taking as our guide the early Fathers, we shall see how the phrase“Forgive us…as we forgive” underlines the fundamental unity of the human race.Finally, we shall try to appreciate what is signified by the word “as” in the forgivenessclause of the Lord’s Prayer: “…as we forgive.” Why should the scope of God’sforgiveness be seemingly restricted by my own willingness to forgive? We shall endwith four practical guidelines.

The Sunday of Forgiveness occurs immediately before the seven-week Fast of Lent,the “Great Fast” in preparation for the “Feast of Feasts,” the Lord’s Resurrection atPascha. The human animal, it has been said, is not only an animal that thinks, ananimal that laughs and weeps, but much more profoundly an animal that expressesitself through symbolic actions. With good reason, then, the Orthodox Church affordsits members the chance each year to externalize their longing for forgiveness,through a liturgical rite that is both corporate and personal.

On the morning of Forgiveness Sunday, the appointed Gospel reading isMatthew 6:14-21, beginning with Christ’s words, “If you forgive others theirtrespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgiveothers, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Then in the evening, atthe end of Vespers, there comes a ceremony of mutual pardon. Usually the priest gives a homily, concluding with anappeal to his flock to forgive him for all his mistakes and shortcomings in the pastyear. Then he comes down the sanctuary steps to the floor of the nave where thepeople are standing, for there can be no genuinely mutual forgiveness unless I putmyself on the same level as the other. Kneeling before the congregation, he says,“Forgive me, a sinner.” The people likewise kneel before the priest, answering,“May God forgive you. Forgive us.” To this the priest responds “God will forgive,” or “MayGod forgive and bless us all.” After that the people come up one by one to the priest,and each kneels before him as he in turn kneels before each of them; and theyexchange the same words, “Forgive me….God will forgive.” Then, having first kneltbefore the priest, the members of the congregation go around the church kneelingbefore one another, each asking and granting pardon. All this, for obvious reasons,is easier to carry out if, as in traditional Orthodox practice, the church is not clutteredup with pews.

There is of course a danger that a ceremony such as this may become over-emotional, in which case the results will probably prove ephemeral. Forgiveness,after all, is not a feeling but an action. It involves not primarily our emotions but ourwill. It is a decision, which then requires to be given practical effect. There is alsothe opposite danger that some worshippers, growing accustomed to this ceremonyyear by year, will go through it in a manner that is merely formal and automatic.

Ritual can all too easily become ossified.Nevertheless, when full allowance has been made for the dangers of emotionalismand formalism, it remains true that for very many Orthodox Christians, this annualservice of mutual pardon is deeply healing. On the basis of my personal experience,after more than forty years of pastoral work in a parish, I can testify that again andagain it has a transfiguring effect upon relationships within the local church family.It is an occasion that many of our people approach with the utmost seriousness. Letus not underestimate the power of ritual. Even if there are times when it becomesossified, on other occasions it can and does act as a potent catalyst, enabling us togive expression to what would otherwise remain unacknowledged and repressed.Those too hesitant or embarrassed to call at one another’s homes and embark on alengthy verbal explanation can make a new beginning within the framework of sharedprayer. The Vespers of Forgiveness serves in this way as a genuine breakthrough, thesudden vision of a fresh landscape.

The burden of unhappy memories means, not surprisingly, that the Vespers ofForgiveness is somewhat subdued and somber. We cry out in sorrow, “Turn not awayThy face from Thy servant, for I am in trouble. Hear me speedily, hearken unto mysoul and deliver it.” Yet, along with sorrow, there is also a note of glad expectation.“Let us set out with joy upon the season of the Fast,” we sing in one of the hymns,and a little later we add, “Thy grace has shone forth and given light to our souls.” Asthe mutual pardon is being exchanged between priest and people, in many churchesthe choir sings the Resurrection hymns that will be used seven weeks later at Paschalmidnight—to forgive is to rise again from the dead. St John Climacus, abbot of MountSinai in the seventh century—whose book The Ladder of Divine Ascent is speciallyappointed for reading in Lent—has a phrase that exactly describes the spirit of theVespers of Forgiveness: charopoion penthos, meaning “mourning that causes gladness”or “joy-creating sorrow.”

Sometimes people have told me that they find the phrase commonly used at theservice, “Forgive me….God will forgive” to be problematic and even evasive. Surely,they object, when someone asks for forgiveness, it is not enough for us to assurethem that they are forgiven by God, for they already know that. What is required isthat we should forgive them. This, however, is to overlook an essential point.Forgiveness is first and foremost a divine act, for “Who can forgive sins but Godalone?” (Mark 2:7). If, then, I am to forgive someone else, and the other person is toforgive me, in the last resort this is possible only in so far as we are both of us inGod. More specifically, we are able to forgive each other solely because we are bothof us already forgiven by God. Our forgiveness is rooted in His, and is impossiblewithout it, for “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Since, therefore, forgiveness is not primarily our human action but a divine actionin which we humans participate, it is vitally important that in the process of mutualforgiveness, we should allow space for God to operate. At the beginning of theEucharistic service in the Orthodox Church, the Divine Liturgy, the deacon says to thepriest, “It is time for the Lord to act” (see Psalm 119:126), thereby affirming that thetrue celebrant at the Holy Mysteries is not the priest but Christ Himself. The phraseapplies equally to our mutual forgiveness. Here, too, it needs to be said, “It is timefor the Lord to act.” Our attempts at reconciliation often fail precisely because we relytoo much upon ourselves and do not leave proper scope for the action of the Lord.With St. Paul we need to say, “not I, but Christ in me” (Gal. 2:20). Such, then, is thespirit in which we reply at the Vespers of Forgiveness, “God will forgive.”

(This was the first part of a three part series. The next two parts will appear inin the next two issues. We are seeking permission to print the whole article as a booklet,which we will produce after the third part is published. The entire essay was presented as apaper by Met. Kallistos at the Orthodox Peace Fellowship Study Day in Amsterdam last year.It appears as a chapter in a book of essays by several authors called Meditations of the Heart:The Psalms in Early Christian Thought and Practice. Essays in Honor of Andrew Louth. Thebook was published by Brepols Publishers in August, 2011.)


❖ IN COMMUNION / issue 62 / October 2011

 

Interview with Jim Forest – Work Hard, Pray Hard. by US Catholic Magazine

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

By editors of US Catholic Magazine

Jim signing books at a talk in Washington DC at Catholic University on Oct. 23, 2011.Photo courtesy of Jim Forest.

Jim signing books at a talk in Washington DC at Catholic University on Oct. 23, 2011.Photo courtesy of Jim Forest.

Few have written authoritative biographies of the 20th-century spiritual giants Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker, and Thomas Merton, the celebrated Trappist monk and writer. Fewer still knew them both. But Jim Forest, a former Catholic Worker himself, did, and his unique insight reveals the human side of two figures many Catholics revere as saints, if as yet uncanonized.

Why the interest in these two people, both dead for decades? “Merton is just a perennial, like certain plants that refuse to stop blooming no matter how many years pass,” says Forest of the monk, who died in 1968, but whose writings are still not all published. “There’s a new book by him coming out every year or two.” As for Day, with whom Forest lived as a member of her staff, “Her canonization proceedings have gradually made people more and more curious: Who is this Dorothy Day?”
The close friendship between Day and Merton, rooted in their common commitment to nonviolence and the works of mercy, is a fact known to few of their admirers. At heart, they shared a desire to restore to the church its early refusal of violence for any reason.

“If you were to be baptized in the early centuries, you had to make a commitment not to kill anybody, period,” says Forest. “How did we lose that? Merton and Dorothy were two of the people in the 20th century who helped to unpack those boxes that had been pushed up into the attic.

”Dorothy Day lived in New York City among the poor, and Thomas Merton was a monk in rural Kentucky. How did you come to know them both?

When I first came to the Catholic Worker in 1960, I was still in the Navy. I was 19 years old, working at the U.S. Weather Bureau as a young meteorologist and taking kids to Mass on Sunday from a little institution in Washington where I was volunteering in my spare time. I found copies of Dorothy’s newspaper, The Catholic Worker, in the library at this particular parish, Blessed Sacrament, and became curious about the woman. One weekend I went up from Washington to New York to see what the Catholic Worker was all about.

In New York I was given a bag of mail to take to her in Staten Island. She was sitting there with a letter opener at the end of a table with a half dozen people sitting around. One of the rituals of life, as I discovered, was Dorothy reading the mail aloud to whoever happened to be there and telling stories.

One of the letters was from Thomas Merton, and I was absolutely astounded that Dorothy Day, who was very much “in the world,” was corresponding with Thomas Merton, who had left the world with a resounding slam of the door. Of course, they were both members of the Catholic Church and both writers, but Merton had taken the express train out of New York City for good, and Dorothy lived at its very heart.

Dorothy periodically got arrested; Merton certainly did not. Dorothy was very much under a cloud from the point of view of many Catholics because of her anti-war activities, and Merton was regarded as one of the principal Catholic writers in the world. But if they had been brother and sister they couldn’t have been very much closer.

How would you introduce these two figures to someone who doesn’t know them?I might start with a photo: Dorothy Day between two policemen, awaiting arrest at age 75. It was her last arrest, and you can see that this is a person worth knowing about, somebody who never stopped being disturbed about things that were disturbing, and she did it without hating anybody. She had a gift for seeing injustice and responding without rage but with persistence.

She’s looking at these two policemen like a concerned grandmother of two kids who have their water pistols ready to open fire on grandma—but she’s definitely not in a state of enmity with these two boys and their big guns. In the case of Merton it’s more difficult because monastic life is so removed. The average age of a monk at Merton’s Abbey of Gethsemani now is 70. Today there aren’t a lot of young people thinking of becoming monks, whereas 50 years ago a lot of people were. I remember when I first saw Merton—there were no author photographs on his books, so you had no idea what he looked like—I sort of imagined some skinny person fasting all hours of the day, certainly not a person with a sense of humor. When I actually saw him for the first time in the monastery, he was on the floor with his feet in the air and clutching his tummy, laughing so hard that he was a shade of red.

What was he laughing about?

Merton had invited me to come down to the monastery, and I hitchhiked down because of my economic situation. It was in the middle of winter, 1962, and by the time Bob Wolf, one of my friends at the Catholic Worker, and I arrived, it had been two and a half days of the worst weather I’d ever experienced.

When we finally got to the abbey, we hadn’t had a shower in two and a half days, so we probably had a pretty rich aroma. I had gone into the chapel loft at the monastery to pray, as I was excessively pious in those days. Bob more sensibly had collapsed on his bed in the guest house. Soon I could hear in the distance this funny sound that seemed like laughter but, of course, it couldn’t be laughter because this was a monastery. I followed the noise into Bob’s room, where I found both Merton and Bob laughing. It was, of course, the “Catholic Worker perfume” that had been inhaled by Merton that set him off.

Why was meeting Merton such a big deal to you?

I can only compare it to meeting someone like Oprah Winfrey today. You could not walk into a bookshop in America then without finding Merton’s autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain. For tens of thousands of people, it was a life-changing book. It’s a perennial bestseller, probably the most important religious autobiography that had been written in 200 or 300 years. It was the beginning of a succession of books by Merton, all of which were automatic bestsellers. Most of the people who read it didn’t become monks. But they did discover a kind of monastic place inside themselves where they could live a more coherent spiritual life. They found a core, a center, an anchor of some kind, and it opened their eyes in ways they hadn’t been opened before.

Was Dorothy Day as well known?

No, but on the other hand you could not walk into a Catholic church in America and not run into somebody who knew about the Catholic Worker. There were Catholic Worker houses of hospitality all over the country. The Catholic Worker newspaper was one of the most widely read Catholic publications in the United States with 100,000 copies printed every month. And once you became interested in Day, you were likely to read her autobiography, The Long Loneliness.
How did Merton and Day become friends?

It was a friendship of letters; they never actually met. Their oldest surviving letter is from December 1956, from Dorothy to Merton. She had received the news that he had offered Christmas Mass for her and the Catholic Worker and wanted him to know that “this has made me very happy indeed.” She goes on to say, “We have had a very beautiful Christmas here and quite a sober and serious one, too. There have been occasions in the past when the entire kitchen force got drunk, which made life complicated, but you must have been holding them up this year. Please continue to do so.” You get a sense of the frankness of their exchanges.
The next letter that escaped the vicissitudes of time is also from Dorothy, from June 1959. It’s a reply to a letter from Merton, and she apologizes for not having answered more quickly and also recalls with gratitude the copies of The Seven Storey Mountain he had sent to her way back in 1948. That might have been the beginning, just Merton sending her a box of books. So Merton’s interest in Dorothy goes back at least to 1948.

Why do you think Merton was interested in Day and the Worker?

The big decision for Merton was whether to be part of Catherine Doherty’s Friendship House in Harlem near Columbia, where he was studying, which was like the Catholic Worker, or to go to Gethsemani and become a monk.

Monastic life tilted heavily toward prayer, and ultimately Merton realized there was just something mysterious in him that pulled him toward that vocation. He didn’t feel it was necessarily as high a vocation as the works of mercy, but it was the one that God was calling him to. But that tension was always there, and he had a sense of gratitude that the Catholic Worker existed. Having a relationship with Dorothy allowed him to be a part of the work he hadn’t been led to do. As he wrote to Dorothy in December 1963, “If there were no Catholic Worker and such forms of witness, I would never have joined the Catholic Church.”

How did they influence each other?

I think Merton probably had less influence on Dorothy than she had on him, actually. Merton was trying very hard to write through the church censors— the abbot-general of his order blocked some of his writings about war and peace, for example. But Merton mainly wanted to reach Catholics who were bewildered by the idea of nonviolent, disarmed life, with works of mercy as a core of Christian life. I think he tried harder than Dorothy to communicate with people who didn’t completely share a pacifist view, and she was impatient with him for doing so.

Dorothy was very outspoken: no footnotes, no commentaries, just bang, there it is. Merton would make a great effort to meet people midway, which I think was one of his talents.

Merton’s voice changed all the time depending who he was talking to. If he was talking to a Quaker, he might use Quaker vocabulary. The same if he was talking to a Muslim. He created spaces in which dialogue occurred that might not happen otherwise. Merton had this facility to study and appreciate radically different points of view and somehow integrate them into his style with some people.

Dorothy didn’t have a vocabulary for talking to Buddhists—she was so Catholic. I can remember having to argue Dorothy into publishing articles by Thomas Merton in The Catholic Worker because he wasn’t taking the pacifist position that Dorothy took. Can you imagine having to convince the editor of The Catholic Worker to publish an article by Thomas Merton? Did he influence her in terms of prayer? Dorothy was there already. She wouldn’t have lasted five years at the Catholic Worker if she didn’t pray.

Of all the people I’ve known in my life, including Thomas Merton, I haven’t known anybody with a more disciplined spiritual life than Dorothy Day: Mass every day, rosary every day, confession every week. A community of Benedictine monks sent us prayer booklets for use during the day at the Worker—lauds, vespers, compline. We used them until they were worn out and then they’d send us more.

How was Day’s approach to war and peace different from Merton’s? I can remember going with Dorothy one night when she was speaking at New York University on Washington Square. I was impressed by how much hostility there was from some of the students because of her antiwar stance. The Cold War was very cold, and anybody who was seen as a little short on the patriotic side—which meant an uncritical, enthusiastic support of the military activities of the United States government—came under suspicion. One of the students said, “Well, Ms. Day, you talk about loving enemies, but just what would you do if the Russians were to invade?” Dorothy said, “I would love them the same as I love anybody else that comes here. Jesus has said to love your enemies; that’s what I try to do. I would open my arms and do my best to make them feel welcome.”

It was an absolutely scandalous answer, but it was straight out of the New Testament. It was like a lightning bolt, this shocking simplicity of the gospel. Dorothy knew enough by that time to be able to speak that way without apology or embarrassment.
I suppose the young man who asked that question has never forgotten the answer. He probably will come back to it again and again and move from scandal and shock to maybe even thinking she was onto something. It wasn’t just words. Dorothy was in situations time and time again when she was confronted with people who were dangerous, and she did exactly what she hoped to do. She responded to them in a caring, motherly way. How do you think Merton and Day would respond to today’s wars? Dorothy would be doing the kind of things Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and other peace activists are doing: going to Iraq, going to Afghanistan, meeting with people, helping them, making known through writing and photography what the world is doing to human beings in these situations.

I saw a picture on a poster in Milwaukee a couple of days ago that peace activists use at a weekly vigil on the Marquette campus. It is an American soldier—helmet, battle fatigues, gun at his side—holding the dead body of a child, the soldier obviously weeping. That’s the kind of imagery we’re not seeing on the front page of any newspapers in America, but that’s the reality of war, and Dorothy would be encouraging young people to bring it out.

One of the things Merton stressed that we’re missing in our discussions of war is what he called the human dimension. We have to try to bring the face of suffering people to the fore and see what we can do to make that suffering happen less often, with less dreadful consequences. You’ve talked about Thomas Merton’s sense of humor. What about Dorothy Day? Was she ever funny?
One of my favorite stories of Dorothy was the moment when a quite well-dressed woman came in to the Worker. She took a diamond ring from her finger and handed it to Dorothy. Why she was moved to do that, I have no idea. Dorothy thanked her politely with no more fuss than she would if the woman had brought a dozen eggs.

A little while later a woman that we didn’t particularly enjoy seeing showed up. I think her name was Catherine, but we called her “the weasel.” She was, as far as we could tell, genetically incapable of saying thank you. Dorothy reached into her pocket and said, “I have something for you”—and gave her the diamond ring.

I don’t know if it was me or somebody else who went to Dorothy afterward and said, “You know, Dorothy, I could have taken that ring up to West 47th Street to the Diamond Exchange, and we could have paid her rent for years to come.” She responded, “Well, if she wants to sell the ring and go to the Bahamas, she can do so. But she might also like to just wear the ring. Do you think God made diamonds just for the rich?”

Despite their differences, how are Day and Merton most similar? You would think that they wouldn’t have much in common, but the more you look the more you see how much they complement each other.

I think they both represent a radical search for a deeply rooted spiritual life that is not separate from the world. We always hear the commandment, “Love God, and love your neighbor,” but one or the other usually takes priority. Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day were both remarkably successful in finding that balance point in terms of their own unique identities. The balance is slightly different, but the scales are very similar, which makes them convincing to us today, each in their own way. USC

❖ IN COMMUNION / issue 62 / October 2011

Poetry IC 62

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Eyes

By Vincent van Buuren

I stand behind the table of brass

in front of the icon of the Most Holy Mother of God

where they can light one, or more, of five candles,

which I will extinguish for others to light them again.

And everyone of them, as they light and pray,

they look up to the flame,

and I look into their eyes and see the silent prayer

only known to the Holy Virgin and them:

of the old woman dressed in black

with the parchment skin tanned by the sun,

of the mother with tears in her eyes

making the sign of the cross,

of the muscular athlete from Russia

who prays with tenderness and awe,

of the child on his mother’s arm

with eyes like an angel, radiating enchantment,

of the old man with the walking stick

whose trembling hand I have to hold to light the candle,

of the woman who came to the icon

all the way on her knees.

And as behind me a young man falls down on his knees before the icon

and bursts out in tears,

I can only stammer, Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Vincent van Buuren is presently on a three-month stay at a Greek Orthodox monastery on Cyprus


They’re gardening boots now…

By Aaron Haney

They’re gardening boots now

stained only with the dirt

of my small raised garden

Seeds unsealed from plastic

await a proper burial

reminding me of a past

that still weighs on my heart

but gives me hope

for the possibility of new life

“It’s been four years since my deployment to Iraq and 2 years since I left the Army for civilian life. By the grace of God and through the prayers and support of OPF members I was able to remain safe (and sane), able to turn swords into plowshares as it were with my combat boots.”

–Aaron

❖ IN COMMUNION / issue 62 / October 2011

 

News -October IC 62

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Delegates Sent by Metropolitan PHILIP to Syria in September

(The following story is a recap of a report written by Fr. Patrick Reardon of his recent trip to Syria. IC understands that there are many perspectives on what is happening in Syria and that the situation there is fluid and facts are hard to acertain. This story is offered as one alternative perspective on what is  being primarily portrayed in the media.)

Father Patrick Reardon, pastor of All Saints’ Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, reported on his participation with a delegation sent by Metropolitan PHILIP to Syria, which occurred September 13-18.

Father Patrick Reardon, pastor of All Saints' Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois,The express purpose of the dele-gation was to make inquiries regarding the political climate in Syria, specifically in regard to the status and condition of Syrian Christians. They therefore met with President Assad, local bishops, Michel Kilo of the opposition Intellectual Party, seven sheiks of northeast Syria and the Grand Mufti, the spiritual leader of the Sunni majority in Syria. The party also took advantage of other oppor-tunities to visit local cultural and religious sites.

The delegation consisted of six priests from the Antiochian Archdiocese, two Protestant pastors, and three others. Despite the expressed concerns from people in his parish regarding his personal safety, Fr. Patrick felt as a seasoned international traveler that the fears were based on “irresponsible hysteria” contained in American media reports and were likely overwrought and exaggerated. Fr. Patrick’s actual ex-perience as part of the delegation to Syria confirmed his belief. “During our whole time in Syria,” writes Father Patrick in his informal report, “I saw not a single armed policeman, nor—except for the guard at the Defense Ministry—a single soldier. I saw only one military vehicle…near the defense ministry.”

The delegates spent 90 minutes meeting with President Assad. Fr. Patrick made introductory remarks expressing their purpose to express the “concern of American Christians for the well-being of Syria”.  Having heard sincere praise for Assad from an abbess and others in previous days, Fr. Patrick and the dele-gates found the President to be “cordial and personable…a man of obvious culture, refinement, modesty, and gentility.”

In response to their inquiry, President Assad discussed the primary problem of widespread poverty as being a central factor motivating protests. He went further to discuss the infiltration of peaceful protest groups by right-wing agitators, including the Muslim Brother-hood, who were in part responsible for the sudden eruption of violence. Moreover, he admitted that the military’s reaction which led to the deaths and torture of some demonstrators, was too strong, and that further torture by some military personnel was contrary to his own policies and motivated by revenge rather than state policy.President Assad also addressed his concern regarding the Western media, whom he felt portrayed the early weeks of the uprising in an unfair and distorted way, which prompted the government to extricate Western reporters from Syria. He made it clear in response to a direct question from Fr. Patrick Reardon that contrary to Western reports, no aircraft had been used against demonstrators, and that no shots were fired from the tanks Syrian soldiers used to cover when under attack. (Opposition party member Michel Kilo later confirmed this claim.)  Assad also spoke about the need for reform and his own intention to start with educational and election reforms. Lastly, he addressed the status of Syrian Christians and spoke of them as a “moderating influence.” He said, “There can be no democracy in Syria without Christians. A completely Muslim country would not have the counterbalance of influence necessary for democracy.”

The delegation also met with two Syrian bishops at the cathedral office of the Antiochian Patriarchate. Having visited the sites of demonstration, the two bishops also expressed their deep concern about the portrayal by the Western media of the situation in Syria, its distortions, and how “local uprisings” had been “blown completely out of proportion” in America and Europe. They also expressed respect and positivity in regard to President Assad.

Delegates also had the opportunity to meet with outspoken opposition figures, such as Michel Kilo, who acknowledged the claim by Assad that the peaceful demonstrators had been infiltrated and “hi-jacked” by extremists who were seeking other agendas. Moreover, he agreed with Assad that there was need for reform, and said that if the President were successful in his efforts, he would vote for him.Fr. Patrick and the group also met with sheiks who sought them out, and lastly, with the Grand Mufti, who ex-pressed a deep belief in the dignity of humanity and a hatred of violence. He also said that he saw nothing to support the exaggerated reports in Western media regarding the uprisings, at which he had been present.

The group also had a chance to visit the house of St. Ananias—the first bishop of Damascus—and the National Arche-ology Museum, as well as to spend time in prayer at the tomb of St. Thecla in the village of Maalula. They also visited a monastery is Saydnaya.

Fr. Patrick Reardon pointed out that the delegates were not allowed to visit the “hot spots,” but that overall they saw no sign of revolution in Syria. He reported that Christians are “safe and happy” and are free to worship without oppression.  Moreover, he also expressed disdain for imbalanced media coverage of Syria in the United States, and that his impression is that Syria is not in any immediate danger from an internal revolution.

IC Orthodox Christian Charities Supports the Emergency Needs of Somali Refugees

As more than ten million men, women and children face hunger and life-threatening health consequences from the worst drought to hit the Horn of Africa in 60 years, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is responding with aid to relieve victims of the worst food shortage crisis in the world today. Working in cooperation with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Develop-ment and Inter Church Aid Commission (EOC-DICAC) and partner agency International Medical Corps (IMC), IOCC is delivering financial support to help alleviate the emergency needs of Somali refugees in southern camps of Ethiopia. The initial IOCC relief will support healthcare responders assessing the immediate and basic health, nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene needs of the refugees, and support their efforts to provide emergency assistance such as distribution of food and water, therapeutic feeding programs for the severely malnourished, construction of latrines, and coordination of other hygiene activities to prevent spread of disease in such overcrowded conditions.

Deputy Country Representative for IOCC Ethiopia, Seifu Tirfie, says that years of working with EOC-DICAC to improve health standards through the development of clean water sources and improved agricultural techniques to withstand drought allows IOCC unique access to provide swift and targeted relief. “Our extended grass roots network and excellent relationship with the government gives us a very good opportunity to deliver prompt and relevant assistance to people facing the serious threat of starvation, particularly women and children.” Tirfie adds that IOCC and it relief partners will be closely monitoring the situation and assessing additional needs.

The devastating drought conditions in the Horn of Africa following no rain for the past two seasons has dried up farmland and pastures, leaving failed crops and dying livestock. The people of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia have been hardest hit by the drought-induced food shortage, but according to UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, those living in Somalia have suffered the added burden of skyrocketing food prices and civil war. UNHCR estimates that an average of nearly 1,700 Somalis, mostly women and malnourished children, arrive every day at the Dollo Ado refugee camp in southeastern Ethiopia after walking barefoot for days in search of food and water. Of the children that don’t succumb along the way and make it to the extremely overcrowded refugee center, some are so malnourished that they die before medical workers can intervene.

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Jerusalem church leaders advocate negotiations on Palestinian state

Jerusalem, 16 September (ENInews)—Church leaders in Jerusalem said they support a negotiated solution to the question of a Palestinian state in the Middle East.”Negotiations are the best way to resolve all outstanding problems between [Israel and the Palestinians],” they said in the statement before next week’s scheduled address by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who will ask for recognition of an independent Palestinian state when he addresses the United Nations next week.If taken to the Security Council, his bid is expected not to pass because of an expected U.S. veto, but if taken to the General Assembly, Palestinian status in the U.N. could be elevated from its current status of Observer Entity to that of Observer State, the same status as the Vatican.

Israel and the U.S. say that a Palestinian state should only be established through joint negotiations, maintaining that any unilateral action such as the declaration of a Palestinian state in the U.N. would lead to violence.
“We call upon decision makers and people of good will, to do their utmost to achieve the long awaited justice, peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians,” said the church leaders. They also said, “Palestinians and Israelis should exercise restraint, whatever the outcome of the vote at the United Nations.”The eleven representatives of Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches said Israelis and Palestinians “must live each in their own independent state with peace and justice, respecting human rights according to international law.” The current situation is “the most appropriate time” to resume diplomatic efforts, they said. [ENI: By Judith Sudilovsky]

Orthodox leaders smooth path to proposed summit meeting

The patriarchs of three ancient Orthodox Christian churches met from 1-2 September in Istanbul to discuss the situation of Christian minorities in the Middle East, and perhaps an even more prickly topic—the move toward a historic pan-Orthodox council—removing major stumbling blocks to what would be the first such gathering in centuries.

The pan-Orthodox council is regarded with great interest by the world’s Orthodox churches, many of which are in unstable regions following revolutions in the Middle East, or in countries facing a third decade of economic and social transition following the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

“The patriarchs, and of course the Archbishop of Cyprus, they all expressed the readiness to proceed to the pan-Orthodox council that is forthcoming, and they said to me that they support the initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarch to this direction,” said Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Proussa, former chief secretary of the Synodical Office of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, also known as the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The meeting, called a synaxis, was hosted by Patriarch Bartholemew of Constantinople and attended by Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria, Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, and Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus. Patriarch Igantius of Antioch was represented by a bishop.Representatives of 14 Orthodox churches met in Chambesy, Switzerland last February to try to establish a consensus towards a pan-Orthodox council, but became mired in disputes about diptychs, the order of commemoration of the churches, and procedures for autocephaly, or the granting of independence to a church. After Chambesy, Patriarch Bartholomew sent a letter to church leaders asking how they wanted to proceed.

This time, Elpidophoros, said, “the answer of almost all the Orthodox churches was that we can proceed to the pan-Orthodox council without having agreed on these two issues of diptychs and the autocephaly,” he said in an interview with ENInews.

Last month, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations, toured the Middle East and met with the patriarchs of Constantinople, Antioch, and Jerusalem. He discussed the importance to Moscow, which is the world’s largest Orthodox Church, of the Istanbul meeting and its potential for influencing the move towards a pan-Orthodox council.At the Istanbul meeting, the leaders discussed the threats to Christians in the Middle East in the wake of recent upheavals. “According to the report of the Patriarchs and the Archbishop of Cyprus, the behavior of these revolutionaries towards the Christian minorities is very hostile and aggressive, and this makes the Christian leaders, and of course the patriarchs, very much concerned about the future,” said Elpidophoros. [ENI: By Sophia Kishkovsky]

Coptic Christians and Persecution One Year After Revolution

Thousands of Coptic Christians gathered at the largest Coptic church in Cairo on October 10, the day after 26 Christians were killed and nearly 300 injured in a flare of military violence against protestors. Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria declared three days of mourning for those who had died due to violence that occurred in what was reported to have been a peaceful demonstration that ended near Tahrir Square.

“[The demonstrators] were completely unnarmed,” said Pope Shenouda in his weekly homily, “according to the teachings of their non-violent religion. They walked for a long way from Shubra to Maspero in an open manner. If they had weapons they would have been seen.”

Violence flared outside the state TV building as Coptic Christians peacefully marched from the Shubra districts in protest against a house of worship in Edfu that had been attacked in the previous week. A group of men claimed the building did not have the appropriate permits, and set in on fire. Witnesses also reported that several of the homes of Coptic Christians as well as businesses were set aflame in Edfu.

❖ IN COMMUNION / issue 62 / October 2011

Recommended Reading – October IC 62

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: “Ut Unum Sint” and the Prospects of East-West Unity Adam A.J. DeVille University of Notre Dame Press, 2011, $38.00 Reviewed by Fr. Ionnis Freeman

Adam A.J. DeVille, a recent graduate of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at St. Paul University, Ottawa (Canada)—a crossroads of Byzantine/Roman Catholic and Orthodox studies—sets a goal to identify a common river of Patriarchal ecclesiology that flowed through both eastern and western Church(-es). This common river has remained intact despite points of confusion and confluence with varied understandings of the Roman papacy by East and West during the second Christian millennium.

However, a shared river of ecclesiology had already divided into respective East/West tributaries even prior to the Great Schism in 1054. Historical tributaries is a fact that receives adequate discussion in this text so that standard objections from “radical conservatives” (5) among Roman papacy defenders, and “radical rejectionists” (5-6) among Orthodox anti-ecumenists get a run for their money.

The author’s task in this book is to recover both an ancient shared understanding of the Patriarchal institution in the East and West as well as explore divergences from the same. Of course, divergences increased and became magnified after the Great Schism.

In fact, DeVille admits in the book’s Introduction that the Vatican’s 2006 Annuario Pontificio officially deleted the title of “Patriarch of the West” from papal titular honors. Yet the title and accrued entitlements of the official Roman papacy after the Great Schism bear inferior if not also an inverse relationship to the western Patriarchal institution. As the Patriarchal title declined in ecclesial importance for Rome, the Papal title became inflated and exaggerated, resulting in a principal excuse to widen the rift of schism.DeVille’s response to the 2006 deletion of “Patriarch of the West” appears in Chapter 3 by way of a defense—a defense of the title based upon a line of reasoning that none other than Josef Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) had advanced several decades prior to his election to the papal See. In fact, readers should consider DeVille’s “apologia” for “Patriarch of the West” a linchpin to understanding and critiquing overall aims in this book. Without a “renewed Roman Patriarchate” (47-77), the project would fold not only according to the two identified groups of “radicals,” but also moderate critics.To wit, “Rome cannot demand from the East regarding the primacy issue more than what has been expressed and applied during the first millennium” (54), according to Ratzinger in a 1968/70 article. DeVille also quotes Yves Congar as having observed, “the notion of patriarch has been neither understood nor honored by Rome” (55).

Nevertheless, despite incisive and authoritative Roman Catholic authors as Ratzinger and Congar, it is Michael Magee’s monumental work, The Patriarchal Institution in the Church: Ecclesiological Perspectives in the Light of the Second Vatican Council (Magee 2006) that provides a convincing argument for reinstating the title “Patriarch of the West.” DeVille acknowledges Magee’s historical contribution to salvaging the title, but doubts that it is sufficient to deal with the fact that the title is seldom encountered and virtually unknown in the West. Titles so crucial to East-West relations and ecclesiology do not disappear out of disuse.

If Magee is correct in his historical analysis of the title, then DeVille is right that Rome’s 2006 omission of the Partriarchal title cannot be attributed to obsolescence as a rationale. Therefore, the remainder of Chapter 3 presents observations about the Vatican’s 1990 revision of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (CCEO is the Latin acronym), which contains a Vatican-acknowledged temporary understanding of how the Pope and Eastern (uniate) Patriarchs, metropolitans, and bishops ought to “honor,” “obey,” and “love one another.” Definitions for honor, obedience, and Christian charity among bishops might be temporary in the 1990 CCEO, but these definitions favor a “subordinate relationship to the Roman Pontiff” (75).Thus the rationale for deletion of the title “Patriarch of the West” might be temporary, just as relationships of Eastern (uniate) Patriarchs to the Roman Pontiff in the CCEO have been acknowledged to be temporary. However, it is the very same period of time in which the title disappeared in 2006 that the Eastern Orthodox-Roman Catholic Dialogue commission convened in Ravenna the following year to discuss papal primacy.

This review has been long on the linchpin issue of the book and short on the sterling recommendations that DeVille makes. If DeVille, Magee, Ratzinger, and Congar—among others—succeed in reviving an ancient collegiality among bishops, East and West, then DeVille’s suggestions will prove reasonable options. For example his ideas about creating six continental patriarchates in the Latin Church along with a permanent synod of these patriarchates and a full ecumenical synod “under papal presidency” (150-55) might be achievable.


For the Peace from Above: An Orthodox Resouce Book on War, Peace, and NationalismEdited by Fr. Hildo Bos and Jim ForestOrthodox Research Institure, 2011, $24.95 Reviewed by Pieter Dykhorst

The topics of nationalism and patriotism, individual and group identity, ethnicity and race, loyalty and faithfulness, peace and conflict, duty and refusal, freedom and obligation are all bound up together and simultaneously set against each other in today’s world and are not easy to sort out. Reading For the Peace from Above, one may be reminded of certain aphorisms like “drink deeply or not at all” or “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” But, as careful as one must be here, For the Peace from Above offers both milk and meat—milk to the one who seeks some basic understanding and meat for the serious scholar. Indeed, the hallmark of the book is that it does not attempt to really explicate anything but rather offers abundant source material. One can learn simple working definitions of terms like nation and state (they aren’t as clear as you might think, particularly if you are from the US where they are understood to be nearly the same thing!) and then turn to the Essays section to read an argument by Fr. John McGuckin that the deeply held notion of a rather uniformly pacifistic and separate early Church being precipitously co-opted and militarized post-Constantine is likely wrong. Within its pages you will find represented views like those of Fr. Alexander Webster, one of the few Orthodox scholars who would go on record arguing for an Orthodox notion of virtuous war, while you have also those who claim that war is always in all cases either sinful or the consequence of sin with no virtue in it possible.

This new edition of For the Peace from Above is beefier by over double the page count—460—than the original in 1999. While the essential outline of the book and chapter headings remain the same, most chapters now contain more material, and some material has been moved to other sections for a more logical grouping of texts. The addition of case studies provides examples of the struggle to work out the proper relation of Christians to the world, in particular to the world’s violent conflicts. These are simultaneously hopeful and problematic. In one example, a young 3rd century Christian, Maximilian, is resolutely prepared to have his life taken by the sword for refusing to serve in the Roman army on the basis of his faith in Christ; yet when he is confronted with the reality that other Christians serve in the army, he can only answer “They know what is best for them.” The struggle, ever immediate, for Christians seeking to answer the questions of if, when, and how violence is permitted is often resolved like that, as today, many sincere Christians risk their lives in shooting wars while others opt to pay the price for refusal. In another Case Study, we have the council in Constantinople in 1872 condemning ethnophyletism (the con-flation of church and state as a result of the creation of an exclusive national identity from the fusion of ethnic and religious components) at a time when Balkan ethno-religious nationalisms were in full bloom, only to fast forward over a century to a statement by the Ecumenical Patriarch condemning religious national-ism as a still present trouble of the modern Church.

What is needed today more than ever is broad, sustained, and deeply vigorous investigation into the complex subjects addressed in For the Peace from Above. Not only is this book a primer and an advanced sourcebook together but essentially also an annotated biblio-graphy. It does not contain easy answers. We find contradictions, ambiguities, solutions that worked in times past which do no comprehend many of the complexities of today’s world, and modern authors’ attempts to unravel the tight knots that bind our understanding of what it means to be peacemakers. Still, this should be considered an essential sourcebook and found on the shelf of every Orthodox Christian who grapples with its subjects. The Church and the world wait for those who would do the work necessary to make relevant the ethic and theology of peace contained in the Gospel from which today’s world has moved so far. What worked in the past in this kingdom or that empire, for this Saint or that soldier, when the work of war was often watched from a hilltop by the local citizenry and violent changes of imperial regimes may not even have made a difference at the village level, no longer suffices. The Gospel doesn’t change but its applications to a changing world must. This book serves as a vital tool for those who take on the burden and challenge of building a coherent Christian ethic of peace for today’s world from the disparate efforts of two millennia of reflection, thought, prayer, and conviction brought together in its pages.

Singing in a Strange Land: The Ancient Future of Orthodox PluralismRev. Dr. Elias BouboutsisHoly Cross Orthodox Press, 223 pp., $24.95Reviewed by Fr. Ionnis Freeman

This book explores what the author considers “the ancient future of Orthodox pluralism.” Bouboutsis draws an Orthodox Christian theological map of fresh but ancient territory by employing a reference to Psalms 135/136 before the title’s coda. This book is not alone in having borrowed the phrase. Three recent texts have stitched the phrase into titles by linking the Psalmist’s lament over residing in a “strange land” to 1) praying with the poor (Lindsey 1991), 2) the Black Church in transforming the voice of African Americans (Salvatore 2006), and 3) Jewish-American poetics (Shreiber 2007). What delights is the book’s deft portrayal of ancient Christian witnesses about the Holy Trinity and eternal Church as anticipating 20th century developments in semiotics and interdisciplinary culture studies. In short, this book entertains divine plurality as integrating all people with their myriad of differences and similarities, along with all things and Creation as a whole. As above, so below reflects an Orthodox harmony that this book illustrates in liturgical texts, Patristic and secular sources.
Far more treasures await readers in this book. The first three chapters present a polemical base of reasoning for the project, which are critical for how Fr. Elias steers the narrows of that separate eastern and western Christian sources. Moreover, he addresses Palamite teachings that pertain to Christian anthropology as well as post-colonial and post-structuralism theories about pluralism in sufficient depth for well-versed critics without sacrificing clarity. Thus, both critics and general readers will appreciate the book’s rich content and clear presentation.Where should general readers begin reading the book? I recommend they start by reading the book’s Introduction and then turn to chapters four and five. The book shifts voice from polemics to conversation in these chapters by speaking in an Orthodox ethos that explores popular literature, holy icons, other sacred art, sacred chant and secular music, and Orthodox liturgies. It will please general readers that these chapters paint a colorful canvas of global Orthodoxy, which includes hues from existing inter-Orthodox divisions and still avoids pedantic objections by readers over textual examples as being “too Greek,” “too Slavic,” and the like. For example, “In the words of Byzantium’s preeminent…translator, Cyril the ‘Apostle to the Slavs,’…this means a new cultural production, a new rendering for a different, non-Mediterranean world” (125). One might consider chapters four and five as reflecting a rich palette of primary and secondary colors by which—as content, tools, and form—the book presents an organizing vision of the Church’s eternal creative potential. Indeed, the pluralism of this book illustrates Beauty, as construct, by embracing the whole of Creation in the Church.

Concluding the text in an Appendix is a “fresh translation of Basil’s the Great eclectic method” (185-8). The translation is arguably the best in print bar none. Because this text is foundational to the book’s thesis and themes, it anchors the book in a genuine Orthodox pluralism, long anticipated among the Fathers and Mothers of the Church. This ancient but fresh view encourages Christians to sample non-Christian studies, such as philosophy, poetry, and even semiotics or intercultural studies, in the manner of the honeybee that “…derives that which is needful from the flower [and]…leaves the rest behind” (187).

All Is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy DayJim Forest Orbis Books, 352 pages, $27.00 Reviewed by Martha Hennessy (From the copyright page of the book: This is a substantially revised and enlarged edition of Love Is the Measure: A Biography of Dorothy Day, originally published by Paulist Press, 1986, revised edition published by Orbis Books, 1994.)


It is a pleasure to hold and read Jim Forest’s revised and expanded biography of Dorothy Day. She was a writer, Roman Catholic convert, co-founder of the Catholic Worker in 1933, and editor of a newspaper that served as the organ of this renowned movement for social justice.

Dorothy’s compelling story, set in the 1920s through the 1970s, is told through an array of lovely photographs and with her own writings woven into Jim Forest’s insightful reflections and careful documentation of people, places, and events. The book is a rich resource of American history formed from an insurgent perspective, an outcome of this woman’s unswerving journey of faith and her practice of Christian anarchism. But on a personal level, which was her gift to so many of us, this story is inspirational and a call to action concerning the very fate of humanity and creation. In her words, “we are urging revolutionary change,” we are made to think about how we live together and how we treat each other in today’s world.

Dorothy’s life and work show with clarity that she possessed an incredible sensitivity to and delight in the presence of God. Jim Forest brings this out beautifully. We see her celebrate the ordinary in life as wondrous; we sense her intense love of those around her, from early lovers, to friends, co-workers, and family.

Also shared are her profound experiences of grief over the human errors and tragedies of this world. All is Grace includes material from Dorothy’s journals and letters, compiled and edited recently by Robert Ellsberg in The Duty of Delight and All The Way To Heaven. Her writings over many years describe in detail her family life, the challenges of living in community, and the joys and sorrows of meeting the needs of the poor through the works of mercy. Her correspondence and interactions with both people of significance and those of humble stations reveals a person of great kindness and humility herself. Dorothy consistently set an example for overcoming our class system and the myriad forms of oppression and exclusion by seeing others as miracles or even as the face of Christ. This is indeed a radical message set in the center of a culture of discrimination, wars, and materialism. Yet Dorothy’s mode of indoctrination is always intertwined in great stories of her extensive travels, time in prison, and adventures through retreats and speaking tours. The book captures many of these stories, conveying to the reader the joys, humor, and grim realities of Dorothy’s visits across the United States and to the far reaches of Russia, India, and Africa.

For me, the most poignant selection is the chapter titled “Pregnancy, Faith, and Baptism.” As a woman and mother, Dorothy brings to us her intrinsic human experience of a conversion precipitated through the act of giving birth. “No human creature could receive or contain so vast a flood of love and joy as I often felt after the birth of my child. With this came the need to worship, to adore.” Such words, expressed in her exquisite writing style, are captivating.

The chronological arrangement of All Is Grace provides an easy, in-depth study of Dorothy’s varied life and the history of the Catholic Worker movement. She had a great interest and ability in reaching out to people and connecting with them on a personal level. This comprehensive book, which should bring enthusiasm and hope to our youth, is a fine tribute to Dorothy’s efforts to build community around the world.Martha is a peace activist who lives at the Maryhouse Catholic Worker in New York City. She is the grand-daughter of Dorothy Day.

❖ IN COMMUNION / issue 62 / October 2011

 

Conversations @ E-Mail – October 2011

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Counting the Cost. The cost of paradise is the Cross of Christ. God is love. The cost of God loving us is his self-emptying in the incarnation culminating in his passion and total dereliction on the Cross. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is the cost of God forgiving us. This is the cost of Christ’s total identification with our fallen humanity. In order to win Paradise for us, he has to enter our hell where we are totally bereft not only of God’s presence but of life itself. Christ offers us this free gift of forgiveness and salvation without reservation and with only one condition––that we let our hearts be broken open in repentance to receive this forgiveness (“a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Ps. 50) and in like manner forgive others. In truly repenting and receiving God’s forgiveness, we then forgive others. In a sense it’s automatic. We simply can’t receive God’s forgiveness without forgiving others. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The cost of our own repentance and forgiving others is our share in the Cross of Christ. Why is this so rarely even preached? Why do we simply fail to understand this when we evade the simple truth of “Love your enemies”? The answer is very simple, if also very tragic. We don’t want to pay the price of God’s becoming one of us. We don’t want to pay the price of the Cross. Paul del Junco

Paul, your words reminded me of those of Archimandrite Vasileios, Abbot of Stavronikita, then of Iveron, whom I just heard speak. He said: “PARADISE is a kind of TASTING…to know/understand that all is love…” Clearly, this understanding can only come to a heart willing to be broken open and bear the Cross. Ioana Novac


Peace. It seems to me that the majority of Orthodox Saints and fathers hold a simple truth about peace–it must begin with individual peace within and grow from that place. St Seraphim of Sarov is often quoted “If you find inner peace, thousands around you will be saved.” Most of the Noble Peace Prize recipients do not reflect that essential element in their acceptance speeches. More often issues of justice and tolerance, or grand multinational policy and international security, are the focus of attention. Is it “peace one person at a time” or can we effect general policies and attitudes? Maybe it can be both. Maybe it is more of how we do it? Fr. John Brian


Fear. Henry Nouwen writes: “Waiting is not a very popular attitude. In fact, most people consider waiting a waste of time. Perhaps this is because the culture in which we live is basically saying, “Get going! Do something! Show you are able to make a difference! Don’t just sit there and wait!” For many people, waiting is an awful desert between where they are and where they want to go. And people do not like such a place. They want to get out of it by doing something. In our particular historical situation, waiting is even more difficult because we are so fearful. One of the most pervasive emotions in the atmosphere around us is fear. People are afraid–afraid of inner feelings, afraid of other people, and also afraid of the future. And fearful people have a hard time waiting.
I am fearful of many things–bedbugs, snakes, (9.3 on the Richter scale) earthquakes, offending someone, even of the dark sometimes! I just know God is there and so push myself through those fears. It is a matter of giving them to Him, “putting them on the altar,” so to say. It would be impossible for me to make it through a day without exercising faith. So many of those things could and have and do happen! How do I know that the occasional hitchhiker I’ve picked up is a person of good will? I don’t. I come from a family of sometimes violent people who have had problems with post-traumatic stress and alcoholism. The unthinkable does indeed happen. Still, we want to do the needful thing, show hospitality.

On the other hand, reason sometimes cautions that it is time to give certain things up. I think of driving in busy, urban traffic, for example. It is a time of life for me to let someone else sit behind the wheel there, and one day I will probably not drive any longer, period. I just don’t respond as quickly as I once did, and I would not want to endanger others.

One of C.S. Lewis’ books mentioned that life is more meaningful because death always lurks beside us (I think he actually said “in the water” because he was talking about being beside a pool of some sort). The gist of it was that there is no life without risk of dying or without confronting our fears. This tells us that things matter.  Sally Eckert


Related to our “particular historical situation” is the matter of our culture struggling with the matter of having lost its faith (God is dead, etc.) Whether any particular person is devoted or not, we are no longer surrounded by any on-going assumptions and reminders of faith, that we journey on earth for a time before going on to another reality and that what we do here and now is of great significance, etc. Cosmically, therefore, we don’t know where we are.

Being lost is scary. This touches the second matter, not limited to this particular time, but–the fear of being alone, truly alone in the universe, as above, but alienated from our selves and therefore alone within ourselves, strangers from ourselves. “They cannot scare me with their empty spacesBetween stars–on stars where no human race is. 
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.”–from Robert Frost’s “Desert Places”

Add to that the lack of community, that we live in such an individualistic society that refuses community. Con-sumer approaches to religious practice indicates this.  We don’t want to “fit in” to a community at all, with all its implications that fly in the face of me, myself, and I. Our young people have huge trouble with commitment to a partner, leaving marriage till later and later.“Kathy, I’m lost,” I said, though I knew she was sleeping.”I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why.”–from Simon and Garfunkle’s “America”

Why would someone pour out one’s heart to someone when he knows she is sleeping? Clearly because he is des-perately afraid, both of being alone and of being known at the same time.Thomas Snowdon I don’t have time to do the research but in recent years have several times seen statistics about the number of people in the US using various kinds of stress medication. The number, high already, shot up significantly after 9-11.
I think fear of God is qualitatively different than fear of the threats and dangers that swallow up so much of our physical energy. It would be interesting to look at the Greek words (I am assuming there is more than one) that are translated as “fear.” I think of fear of God as being in a state of radical awe, overwhelmed by the mystery of a Being at once so close and so far, so demanding and so merciful. Jim Forest

Just War. The issue of justifiable war or coercion comes up frequently. I believe I have said this before, but here I must say again that I think the typical Orthodox take on the subject is illogical and unfair to the Catholics.

The argument seems to be that the difference between Orthodoxy and the West on the point of killing is that, if a person ever feels morally compelled to kill one person in order to save another, the killer should still take a repentant attitude. There is no question that Orthodoxy does indeed teach people to take such a repentant attitude and in all seriousness: The Orthodox attitude does indeed appear to be that the action really is to be regretted and the person who committed it needs to search his or her heart deeply, turn away from all low motives that may have led to it (anger, revenge, lust for power, etc.), and acknowledge that the action of killing is always inherently somewhat in-compatible with the Spirit of the Prince of Peace.

My son in the Army told me a story that illustrates the kind of repentance that is called for. When he was serving in Iraq, another young man had engaged with the enemy and killed one of the enemy soldiers. He was very proud of that fact. For about a week he went around saying and implying, “I’m a warrior! I’m a real man!” It was too much for the other soldiers in the unit. His colonel finally said to him, “Soldier, that other young man had a family too.” His pride wilted on the spot.

I want to add here that if Orthodoxy does require repentance of a person who kills another person, then Orthodoxy shares the Catholic doctrine of justifiable war, coercion, violence, and killing. I say that because the Catholic tradition of justifiable war has always included the necessity of repentance as one of the criteria for justifiable war. The simple fact is that the Catholics also insist on repentance–so this is not a difference between Catholicism and Orthodoxy. If X is supposed to differ from Y in having Z, but Y does have Z, then X does not differ from Y (at least in that particular respect).

I hasten to add also that the Catholic tradition of justifiable war has been cheapened and prostituted by Western governments and public policy. After all, the theory of justifiable war was used to justify the Crusades. And we have all seen instances of this use of the theory of just war in recent years. It may well be the case that the vast majority of wars do NOT meet the criteria for a just war–but the rulers and leaders of nations use the theory of just war to convince and persuade their people that they should fight. The State has a way of twisting things to its own advantage.

I think that many of the things said against the “theory of just war” have in mind the somewhat less than Christian form that that theory has taken in statecraft in the West–not the theory as worked out by Catholic ethicists and theologians. A recent book explores this aspect of the matter in great and profound detail. I highly recommend Daniel Bell’s Just War As Christian Discipleship as a way to explore what the tradition meant and how governments have messed around with it. Another book, much more personal in approach, is Eric Greiten’s The Heart and the Fist, which is the story of a humanitarian who came to believe that there is a place for the use of military force in dealing with genocides and other misuses of force. The young man started out doing humanitarian work in Bosnia and Rwanda and ended up becoming a Navy SEAL.

My point here is that when we Orthodox say that we have no theory of a just war, we are indulging ourselves with hype that is not to be taken seriously. It is another example of a kind of Orthodox triumphalism and “The Catholics and the West are always wrong about everything.” If you believe that it is ever morally right to use military force to stop military force, then you do in fact have a theory of just war. You then have a moral and intellectual obligation to state under what circumstances it is morally right for nations and individuals to take such action. The Orthodox theory may indeed differ from the Catholic theory in some respects–but I have yet to see an essay that spells out those differences in a way that shows real familiarity with the Catholic tradition. If anyone on the list does know such an essay, please refer me to it; I really would like to see it. I know that we have smart and wise people working on Orthodox ethics–but in this instance, it seems to me that the Catholics have worked harder and articulated a more coherent theory than the Orthodox. We should cultivate the humility to recognize that sometimes our brothers and sisters in other traditions have gifts to give us, and that we have no monopoly on wisdom. David Holden


Whether a tradition has a formal theory of “just war” does not rest on whether its members sometimes consider a certain use of violence to be justified. Many such decisions are taken in an ad hoc, even helter-skelter way, without benefit of careful reflection or doctrinal devel-opment and refinement. Where is the JW Theory in Orthodoxy enunciated?
 Fundamentally, though, I think this is the bottom line: that a person (or a church) can hold (and I think there is plenty of this in Orthodox tradition) that a) war is never a good in itself and is always lamentable, b) human beings are caught in situations where they cannot always discern a totally moral position–in which case they must do the best they can, and c) we should always repent when we feel we may have committed sin–in fact, we should repent for sins that we have committed without our knowledge or conscious intent If the above looks to anyone like “Just War Theory” then we must agree to disagree. Alex Patico

❖ IN COMMUNION / issue 62 / October 2011