Seeing as I havn’t posted since Thanksgiving, I fgure ya’ll are entitled to at least a quick update:
The Barberg clan is doing fine, and settled into the new reality of our lives here at seminary. We really love our life here, yet our hearts also bear the anquish of being so far from the ones we love; our friends and family. We had a joyous visit home for the feast of Christ’s Nativity (we were in Buffalo for THANKSgiving as well), but have had our share of struggles. It is truly a “sorrowful joy” in following God’s call on our lives.
I did OK my first semester as I adjust to being a student again. I just got above the GPA I need to maintain to keep my scholarship, so your prayers are solicited as I struggle against laziness, scatterbraindedness, and a slow apprehension of Biblical Greek.
Great Lent is fast upon us, and as Lent is always a struggle, it will be even greater as I try to balance my course load and family life, along with all the extra services and other activities as we prepare to celebrate the Resurrection of OUr Lord.
This term my studies include, a second semester of Greek, New Testament w/ a focus on the Pauline Epistles, Patristics which is focusing on the wrtigins of the Church from the 4th to 8th centuries, and Church history (8th century Iconoclasm to the modern era).
Besides mid-terms in the last week of February, I have 3 papers to write: An exegisis from a passage in Romans, a short history of the Orthodox Church of Finland, and a Patristics paper on St. Gregory of Naziansus’s approach to anthropology in his Theological Orations.
Along with the above, I have a weekly Byzantine chant class, choir practice for the Mens’ choir I sing in, a Litrugics class (learnign about the services and how to serve them properly), and a weekly integrating smeinar. I also am in chapel twice a day (Matins and Vespers) and serve at least once a week. I serve Sundays at my parish assignment in Brooklyn (about an hour away) an am asked occasionally to give the sermon. Phew…..
Kelley documents our life from her perspective at everythingdownthechute.blogspot.com. My classmate Michael offers a very comprehensive view into the life of a first year seminarian at orthodoxseminarian.blogspot.com.
I’ll post some papers when I get the chance!
My prayers in return for yours!
I forgot to caption the picture. This was December 7th, 2008 and the ordination of Dcn. Ephraim Alkhas, at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn (which was founded by my patron, St. Raphael) by the hand of Bp. ALEXANDER, the Antiochian bishop of Ottawa, Eastern Canada and Upstate New York.
AS we begion today the season of this holy fast, in anticipation of the celebration of coming of Emmanuel, here is a sober, balanced refelction on how we Orthodox Christians should approach the “Nattional Day of Thanksgiving”:
On Thanksgiving Day:Feast or Fast?
Fr John Parker
Thanksgiving Day is a permanent fixture in the American culture.The average family feasts onTurkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie.For Americans, Thanksgiving is a day of gluttony.Some might take me to task for being too harsh, but the truth is, one only can know a feast if he knows a fast.And to eat more on a day than the too much we usually eat can only be defined as gluttony.
Thanksgiving Day is perhaps the easiest day to baptize as Orthodox Christians.After all, according toSt Paul’s letter to the Romans, our main sin is a failure to give God thanks (eucharistia) and praise (doxa).Our nation has set apart the fourth Thursday of every November precisely to correct our sin.The Puritans and Pilgrims certainly would have thanked (big ‘G’) God for their safe passage to this new and bountiful place.[The degeneration of faith in our public sphere is however, is now sadly reduced from “It is right to give Him (God) thanks” to “It is right to give God thanks” to “It is right to give thanks”.]Still, we have a government-sanctioned day to repent. (Remember that one of the main definitions of repent is “to turn back”.So, if we don’t customarily give God thanks, to return to do so is repentance!)
But what do we Orthodox Christians eat on that day, considering that it always falls during the Nativity Fast, during which we abstain from meat, dairy, wine, and oil?Must we be reduced to tofurkey, cold green beans, mashed potatoes without butter or heavy cream, and no pecan pie topped with whipped cream?
Some don’t ask the question and don’t really care.“I’m American, and Americans eatTurkeyon Thanksgiving.”Others ask the question and don’t really care.“I understand that we are fasting, but this is what we eat…”Others don’t ask the question, because they don’t see that there is one:“It is a fast.This year it is a wine and oil day, so be thankful for that.”In fact, there is a question, and we should, as Orthodox Christians, care about its answer from the ascetical tradition of our faith.It is a long-standing holiday; but it is also a fast day, and more specifically a part of the second most important fasting season in our church year.
In the Orthodox Tradition, we celebrate twelve “Great Feasts”, the icons of which often line the top of the iconostasis.These are the feasts of our Lord Jesus Christ and his all-pure mother.They include the Nativity of the Theotokos and the Nativity of Christ.The Entrance of the Theotokos into theTemple, and the Presentation of Christ in theTemple.The Baptism of our Lord, the Entrance of Christ intoJerusalem, etc.Three of the Great Feasts fall during fasting seasons—one during the Nativity Fast (The Entrance of the Theotokos), one during Great Lent (The Annunciation), and one just before Holy Week (Palm Sunday).Since all of our feasting is measured by Pascha, we will note that even on these three Great Feasts, we celebrate as much as we can (they are feasts, after all); but they are Fish, Wine, and Oil days.So we feast to a certain point to recognize the feast, but we don’t go ‘all the way’ since they fall during fasting seasons.The main theological question, then, that we must raise is this:why would we treat a national holiday as more of a feast than we treat the day on which we celebrate the conception of our Lord Jesus Christ himself?Or the day on which Jesus triumphantly enteredJerusalem?Or the day the Theotokos was presented in theTemple?Does this make sense?Since we do not treat the very feast day of our Lord’s incarnation (The Annunciation) more than a Fish, Wine, and Oil day, why would we eatTurkeyon the fourth Thursday in November?
One of the biggest sticking points for me—in the argument for eating Turkey on Thanksgiving—is that as a pastor, I do not hear any call at all for serving Divine Liturgy on that day—and the Divine Liturgy itself has another name:The Eucharist—the “Great Thanksgiving”.The “Feast” part of the day is considered without the actual “Thanks” part, which is precisely what is wrong with human beings to begin with, according toSt Paul.Were we all to flock to receive communion on that day, the turkey question might be much simpler to address.
Now, we must also address the question from a missiological (missionary) perspective.When the Orthodox Church encounters a culture, it must do at least three things:A) Adjust what is close to Christian, but needs nuance and definition.B) Bless what is already Christian (though it may be unnamed as such) there.C) Cast out (exorcise) what is evil and/or ungodly.Orthodox Christianity, in its present force, arrived here already after such a feast was established—and it is a good feast.I would say that it falls somewhere between A and B—B, in that it is a day to give thanks, A, in that it falls during a fasting season.
In an effort to approach this from a missionary perspective, certain bishops, including our own, have granted a “dispensation” for eatingTurkeyon this holiday.It must be said, though, that there is no such thing in the Orthodox tradition.Individual hierarchs are not above the common tradition of the Church.“Dispensation” is a rather legal category, inherited from Roman Catholic usage, which grants to bishops or priest the possibility to lift a common practice on any given day with the wave of a hand.It would be better for the SCOBA hierarchs to gather together and make a common practice in our country, informed both by the ascetical and missiological traditions of our Church, than for individual bishops to say one thing and others, another.It confuses the faithful.
One way we have made an effort to celebrate the “Feast” part as a parish is to gather on the last Sunday before the Nativity Fast, to share a thanksgiving dinner together.(Theoretically) we have all been to church that morning to thank God in the Liturgy, and the festal supper is fellowship-extension of that Heavenly Banquet we shared in the morning.This is precisely why, theologically, we have had such a Thanksgiving supper together—to honor the Feast and to honor the Fast.It is the same reason why Blini are eaten on Cheesefare Sunday.“Tomorrow” we begin to focus on fasting, preparing for (in this case) the Nativity of Christ; Cheesefare, in preparation for the coming Passion of our Lord.
Another way to honor the fast is to accept an invitation to another’s home on Thanksgiving.Our Lord and the saints instruct us that accepting the hospitality of others is more valuable than our ascetic discipline.In this case, for example, we would eat what is set before us, with thanks to God and to our host.
An additional method for keeping the discipline of the church would be to return to the menu (or most of it) of the “Early Americans”.According to History.com, the likely menu of the earliest Thanksgivings included the following:
Seafood:Cod, Eel, Clams, Lobster
Wild Fowl:Wild Turkey, Goose, Duck, Crane, Swan, Partridge, Eagles
Grain:Wheat Flour, Indian Corn
Vegetables:Pumpkin, Peas, Beans, Onions, Lettuce, Radishes, Carrots
Nuts:Walnuts, Chestnuts, Acorns
Herbs and Seasonings:Olive Oil, Liverwort, Leeks, Dried Currants, Parsnips
Would it be terrible, in the Lowcountry, to have some sort of Lowcountry Boil?An Oyster Roast?Manhattan Clam chowder? And all kinds of fruits, nuts, and vegetables?Why not a lobster dinner?Here would be a mixture of both American tradition and Orthodox tradition which serves both purposes.The point would be to orient our lives more and more according to the Gospel, allowing local practices (wherever we may find ourselves) around that hub, rather than assuming that my cultural inheritance (whatever it may be) trumps the greater Tradition of the Church.
Finally, if one were going to eat the “usual” Thanksgiving supper, I believe it can truly only be sanctified if bookended by intentional prayer, and if eaten in the true spirit of the fast which would include finishing supper knowing that I could have eaten more (ie “a little hungry”) and taking care of the needy—ideally by inviting them to supper, or at least by supplying an equivalent meal for those who have not the means to provide for themselves.
The question of Thanksgiving is not a simple one.It involves humility, struggle, and metanoia, no matter how we slice it (pardon the pun!).In fact, I believe that significant spiritual growth can come simply from wrestling with the question, and working faithfully in the tension.
I can’t resist posting on this, although I should be writing my patristics paper. I am not in the OCA (Orthodox Church of America), yet I attend and OCA seminary. And the OCA is the only autocephalous (that is completely independant) Orthodox Church in America, so is key to our getting this jurisdictional mess we find ourselves in resolved eventually, God so willing.
From those I know who attend the council, it seems clear that the whole direction of the OCA shifted in one evening, with the giving of on speech. I list here for you, both the audio of that text:
Bishop Jonah’s Speech on the Second Evening of the 15th All American Council
On the first day of the 15th All American Council, delegates were asked to form groups and formulate questions that would be compiled by the Pre-Conciliar Commission and presented to the Synod of Bishops for public response. By the second evening there had been no response from the Synod of Bishops, and a concerned priest approached the microphone and inquired about the lack of response. Bishop Nikon, Chair of the Preconciliar Commission, responded that the Preconciliar Commission compiled the list of questions in a meeting where he was not present (and further, that the Holy Synod had not officially received the questions for review) and so the Holy Synod was not prepared to respond. There was a noticeable negative response by many delegates to Bishop Nikon’s statement, and so the Synod of Bishops convened for a short discussion of the matter. Immediately after the Synod’s discussion, Bishop Jonah of Fr. Worth rose and offered the following words.
Christ is in our midst!
One of the reasons the Holy Synod wanted to postpone the answering of these questions was in order to give it more serious consideration and so that we could come up with a conciliar answer to these questions. But part of that discussion that we had was that I would try and set out some theological principles which underlie these questions so that we can look at them together, and consider what we are doing together as the body of Christ in America according to the calling that we have been given – according to that calling that we have been given to be the very presence of the one Holy Catholic Church in America, constituted by the gospel, constituted by our faith, constituted by the canons of the holy fathers, the traditions of the holy fathers that have been given to us and all of those traditions that have been passed down to us.
Because ultimately, what I see in many of these questions (and from the results of the town hall meetings) is a plea from the Church for teaching, to be taught. What is the ecclesiology of the Church and how the Church is supposed to operate? Who are we, and what are we trying to do? We have to be able to separate what is going on in the Orthodox Church in America according to the canons and the traditions and the statute from a lot of the preconceptions that float around in our culture about how organizations operate. A lot of the very notions are distinct.
We are a hierarchical Church, but what does that mean? I think history has given to us an inheritance where hierarchy has been completely confused with imperial aristocracy. Sometimes some of our bishops, Bishop Benjamin in particular, like to joke about it. You know, what happens to a guy – you put him on a stand in the middle of the Church, you dress him up like the Byzantine emperor and you tell him to live forever. You know, as Americans. And I would assert first and foremost as Orthodox Christians, our leadership, the leadership of the Church, that element that comes from above is the divine element, but the leadership that is within the Church, the leadership of bishops in the dioceses, of the Metropolitan among the Synod (because, what is the Metropolitan, he is the chairman of the Synod), the leadership of a parish priest in his parish – if you sit there and you lord it over your parishioners that, “I am the priest, and I can do whatever I want, and I can spend the money however I want without accountability,” you’re not going to go very far. And in fact you are likely to get thrown out because you will get into all sorts of problems. I think that form of leadership is over.
That form of leadership is over, obviously, as you all know within the parishes. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work in a monastery where I have been for the past 12 years. It doesn’t work, obviously, on the diocesan or the national level.
Our leadership is leadership from within. Underlying this is the central theological principle that is in every aspect of our theology. It underlies our soteriology. It underlies our Christology. It underlies our ecclesiology. That is the principle, in the word of St. Paul, of synergy, of cooperation. And it has to be a voluntary cooperation. And obedience within that context is not some guy who can lord it over you and make you do what he wants you to, and you’re going to get in trouble, one way or another. Obedience is cooperation out of love and respect.
Monasticism is the sacrament of obedience. You see what it is incarnate when you experience the communion of a brotherhood with its spiritual father in a spirit of love and respect; everything goes smoothly. And, boys will be boys. You know? But everything goes smoothly. What happens when that love and that respect break down, when passions enter into it, when jealously comes in, or anger, or bitterness, or resentment or revenge? It all breaks down.
On a broader level, our whole life in this Church together is a life of synergy, a life of voluntary cooperation, a life of obedience to Jesus Christ and to the gospel. If it is not about obedience to Jesus Christ and the gospel, what are we doing here? What are we doing here? The gospel has to be first and foremost above every other consideration, and it is the canon by which we measure ourselves. So, when we look at our ecclesiology, when we look to see what the Church is and what the Church can be, it is always in that process of becoming. It is always in the process of entering into that Divine synergy which is nothing else than the very process of our deification, together as one body, with one spirit, with one heart, with one mind. And it is a mutual decision to cut off our own will, to cut off our own selfishness, to cut off our own ideas, to enter into that living synergy which is communion. Otherwise our Eucharist is a sham, and we are alienated from Christ if we are not at peace with one another.
Now that does not mean that we cannot work out our disagreement. God knows, and as Orthodox, we love to fight, right? But we need to work it out so that we can enter into that living experience of communion in cooperation and mutual obedience and mutual submission in love and mutual respect.
Now, with this as our basic principle, how do we look at some of these questions? There are several that I cannot address. I have been consecrated as a bishop for what, 10 days? I am rather new to this august group of bishops, each one of whom I profoundly respect – profoundly respect. I see each one in their own uniqueness, each one with the gifts that they have to offer. Thank God for that.
So, the first question, it rather follows from what is a communion in love and respect trying to work toward synergy, a culture of intimidation is alien to Christ. Unfortunately this has been something that has prevailed in certain sectors and still prevails in certain sectors of the Orthodox Church. And this demon needs to be exorcised. Intimidation, fear is never appropriate. Now, that doesn’t mean that you are not going to get a rebuke, because what father doesn’t, out of love, rebuke his children? Even the scriptures say so. God chastises those whom he loves. But for our life in the Church to be controlled by fear and intimidation - and I had plenty of it, I had more than I even want to think about, and I resolved that never, ever would I allow myself to fall into such a thing because power corrupts. And that power needs to be renounced, because it is only in our powerlessness it is only in our weakness that we can allow ourselves to become vessels for Jesus Christ, the ultimate image of whom is the ultimate in weakness surrendered dead upon the cross.
We need to be able to speak our minds. But we need to do so in a sober way. Sobriety is not just about the use of substances. Sobriety is sobriety in regards to the passions – anger, bitterness, resentment, vengeance – it is all selfish passions. And whenever we are possessed by those passions we need to sit down and shut up because all we are doing is sinning and compounding our sin by the words that come out of our mouths.
It is so important for us to keep watch over ourselves, to keep watch over our words and to keep watch over our thoughts. Because if we are possessed by anger, by judgment of someone who has sinned (Have they sinned? Obviously. Do you sin? Obviously. How can you judge?), it is the same kind of hypocrisy that St. Paul condemned.
The elder who founded the hermitage in Point Reyes, Fr. Dimitri Igoroff of blessed memory, had a saying which I think is of the greatest value to us as a fundamental spiritual principle, “You must mercilessly persecute hypocrisy within yourself.” Mercilessly persecute hypocrisy within yourself. If we can do this as a community, the gospel of Jesus Christ will shine through us.
The SIC Report if you look at it in a certain way basically said that the last two metropolitans were corrupt, that they had abrogated their responsibility of leadership on all levels. So is it a wonder why the Synod, being leaderless, would not function as well as it should ( Is it a wonder?) because of the culture that only a few knew about, of fear and intimidation, which operated within the walls of the chancery in Syosset, a culture which was fundamentally sick. And that has been removed, thank God. Thank God.
And so, the bishops attended to their dioceses. And I think we all know how much, in each diocese, we love, and care [for] and respect our bishop. The problem is not in the dioceses, it is not in the parishes, the problem was in Syosset. The problem was in the chancery. And because of that absolute vacuum of leadership in a sick dysfunctional situation, the Church was looted. It was an expensive lesson – a very expensive lesson.
And I don’t think that in any way, shape or form, the next Metropolitan who will be elected from among this group of men is going to in any way shape or form let down the confidence of the Church if he knows that we are operating in an atmosphere of love, of respect and of hope. If we can build that community of love and respect, seeing how our passions have distracted us from that living communion with God and have turned us against one another have created all sorts of hostility between, well we just saw it, between the body of the All American Council and the Synod of Bishops (I heard “boos.” Right?) , between the Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council – talk about a sick, dysfunctional situation (Why? … because our passions have gone awry).
Yes, we were betrayed. Yes, we were raped. It’s over. It’s over. Let it be in the past so that we can heal.
When we maintain resentments in our souls, and it doesn’t matter whether it is on an interpersonal level, it doesn’t matter whether it is in a parish, within a family, between friends or within the Church on the largest level, when we maintain resentment within our soul it is a cancer that will eat away our soul and destroy us as persons. And it will destroy the community that we have with those other persons. And who do we resent the most but the people that we love the most.
And so, what is the essence of the gospel? It is repentance and forgiveness. And what is that repentance, it is to see that these things have become distractions for us, that they have become ends in themselves, and that we have lost sight of God and to turn back to God. Repentance also means conversion. It means transformation of the mind. And that is a constant process for every single committed Christian. It is a constant process that we have to engage in both personally and corporately. And when we engage in that process we have to confront the anger and the bitterness and the hurts and the pain and the resentment that we have born within us as reactions against the people that have hurt us.
And by forgiving we are not excusing the action. We are not saying that Kondratik was right to loot the Church. We are not saying that Metropolitan Theodosius was right to abdicate all of his responsibility to the bottle … or whatever. We are not justifying anything. What we are saying is, “My reaction is destroying me, and I need to stop it. If I value Jesus Christ and the gospel and communion with God I need to stop it and move on.”
The Holy Synod needs a chance to function normally with a leader who is engaged, who is not drunk, who is not preoccupied, with somebody who is engaged in building that synergy and building that communion. It is not just about that particular Metropolitan or that particular leader, it is about every single one of us. And you, all of you here, you are the leaders of the Church. Every priest here has probably dozens or hundreds of people who look to you, and your authority is based, is founded, on that responsibility to convey the gospel, to convey the message of Christ 95% by your actions and your attitudes and 5% by your words.
Authority is responsibility. Authority is accountability. It is not power.
So, we look at some of these questions. Was the Holy Synod leaderless? Yes. For thirty years, thirty years, Metropolitan Herman and Metropolitan Theodosius … we need to give them [the Holy Synod] a chance with the full, complete, voluntary, willful support of the Church. Let them, and help them, bear their responsibility so that you can bear your responsibility.
Hierarchy is only about responsibility. It is not all this imperial nonsense. Thank God we are Americans and we have cast that off. We don’t need foreign despots. We are the only non-state Orthodox Church. In other words, we are the only Church that does not exist under the thumb of a state – either friendly or hostile. So, the Church is our responsibility personally and collectively, individually and corporately. What are you going to do with it? What are you going to do with your part of that responsibility?
Maybe you haven’t been entrusted with the leadership of a parish. Maybe you are not a priest. Maybe you think, “Oh, I am just a housewife.” What incredible responsibility you have to your children, to your friends, to your neighbors, to the parish. What incredible responsibility to bear witness to Jesus Christ by how you love and respect one another.
If you are a priest, think of the responsibility that you bear as the spiritual father for your parishioners.
One of the hardest things that happened in my ministry was the death of a 22 year old brother. Who happened to decide to go out river rafting in the spring thaw thinking, as any 22 year old would, that he was immortal. As his spiritual father, I knew the sacrament, this mystery of spiritual fatherhood, after his death I knew that I was standing before God with him pleading for his soul.
As priests, you have the same responsibility. To stand at the Last Judgment before the throne of God with those whom God has entrusted to you. It is an awesome thing. And, as bishops – think of that responsibility. We need to come together in love and respect, to be willing to put aside the anger and the bitterness, and show love for one another, show respect for one another, to recognize the awesome responsibility of those who will give account for your souls.
We will stand before God for you at the last judgment, whether it is your personal last judgment or the general one. This is the Scriptures. And this is the reality of the great mystery of our union in Christ.
How do we reestablish trust? There is only one way. It is to choose to love. It is the only way. There is no other way. There is no organizational method, no kind of business practices we can invoke, no corporate ideologies, none of that. If we are Christians, we have the choice. Do we choose to enter into the love of Jesus Christ for one another, including our hierarchs, including our priests, including those who have betrayed us, including those who have failed us miserably, including those whom we judge and criticize all to our own damnation – we have to choose to love; we have to choose to forgive. And this is the only way if we are Christians.
Now, we could have a nice organization, but who cares? Who cares? You know, we could have all the nice rituals, but to quote Fr. Alexander Schmemann of blessed memory, “Jesus Christ did not die on the cross so that we could have nice rituals.” It is not about religion. It is about our souls. It is about our salvation. It is about our life – our life as one body, united by the Holy Spirit in Jesus Christ sharing his own relationship with the Father. If we choose that, everything will be clear. If we choose the other, things may be clear, too, organizationally, but our salvation is forfeit.
So, I think I have addressed most of the questions on here. Please forgive me.
Upon completion of this speech, the delegates rose for an extended standing ovation (the first of the Council), and there was a dramatic change in tenor of the entire Council. The following morning Bishop Johan presided at a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, and he was subsequently elected as Metropolitan at the session immediately following the liturgy (receiving the most votes in the first ballot and a substantially higher number of votes in the second ballot).
Bishop Jonah of Fort Worth Elected Metropolitan of All America and Canada
PITTSBURGH, PA [OCA Communications] — On Wednesday, November 12, 2008, His Grace, Bishop Jonah of Fort Worth was elected Archbishop of Washington and New York and Metropolitan of All America and Canada at the 15th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah was born James Paffhausen in Chicago, IL, and was baptized into the Episcopal Church. While still a child, his family later settled in La Jolla, CA, near San Diego. He was received into the Orthodox Church in 1978 at Our Lady of Kazan Moscow Patriarchal Church, San Diego, while a student at the University of California, San Diego. Later, he transferred to UC Santa Cruz, where he was instrumental in establishing an Orthodox Christian Fellowship.
After completing studies at UCSC, James attended St. Vladimir’s Seminary, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 1985 and a Master of Theology in Dogmatics in 1988.
He went on to pursue studies towards a Ph.D. at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, but interrupted those studies to spend a year in Russia.
In Moscow, working for Russkiy Palomnik at the Publishing Department of the Moscow Patriarchate, he was introduced to life in the Russian church, in particular monastic life. Later that year, he joined Valaam Monastery, having found a spiritual father in the monastery’s Abbot, Archimandrite Pankratiy. It was Archimandrite Pankratiy’s spiritual father, the Elder Kyrill at Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, who blessed James to become a priestmonk. He was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood in 1994 and in 1995 was tonsured to monastic rank at St. Tikhon’s Monastery, South Canaan, PA, having received the name Jonah.
Returning to California, Fr. Jonah served a number of missions and was later given the obedience to establish a monastery under the patronage of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco. The monastery, initially located in Point Reyes Station, CA, recently moved to Manton in Northern California, near Redding. During his time building up the monastic community, Fr. Jonah also worked to establish missions in Merced, Sonora, Chico, Eureka, Redding, Susanville, and other communities in California, as well as in Kona, HI.
In the spring of 2008, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America elevated Fr. Jonah to the rank of Archimandrite and he was given the obedience to leave the monastery and take on the responsibilities of auxiliary bishop and chancellor for the Diocese of the South.
Bishop Jonah’s episcopal election took place on September 4, 2008, at an extraordinary meeting of the Holy Synod of Bishops. Earlier in the summer, his candidacy was endorsed by the Diocese of the South’s Diocesan Council, shortly after Bishop Jonah had participated in the diocese’s annual assembly.
Bishop Jonah was consecrated Bishop of Forth Worth and Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of the South, at St. Seraphim Cathedral, Dallas, TX, on Saturday, November 1, 2008. Consecrating hierarchs included His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas and the South, Locum tenens of the Metropolitan See; His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania; His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West; and His Grace, Bishop Alejo of Mexico City and the Exarchate of Mexico.
Metropolitan Jonah will be installed by the OCA’s Holy Synod of Bishops at St. Nicholas Cathedral, Washington, DC, on December 28, 2008.
May the Lord bless His Beatitude, Jonah, newly-elected Metropolitan of All America and Canada with many years of fruitful service in His Holy Vineyard.
Eis polla eti, Despota!
Fr. Thomas Hopko, in he excellent essay, “Orthodoxy in Post Modern Pluralistic Societies,” discusses the rise of post modern culture. Basically in PoMo there is no objective truth, right, good, or beauty which is common to all. There is no such thing as meaning or purpose, except that which one want to put there. This thinking has turned a lot of the world on its ear. In literature for instance, it no longer matter what the author of a work intended. It simply matters what the reader makes of it.
Contemporary Christianity has also been infected by this thought, in that the trendy thing is to “have church” where we are comfortable (Starbucks), when its convenient (Friday night?), in a way that is “relevant” to me. If a gab fest makes me happy, then that is what Church should be. The worst atrocity that I have seen was friends of mine who participated in a “U2-charist!” As much as I enjoy Bono and the boys, the thought of partaking of communion to the strands of pop music, makes me shudder. It sure wouldn’t help if the elements consisted of “Pizza and soda!” (I am not making this up.)
Fr. Hopko lists four possible responses from the Orthodox to this philosophy:
1) Deny that post-modern pluralism exists. There is often a failure to know the times and understand our culture. People do not think as they did just a few years ago.
2) Thinking that we are immune to the phenomenon. There are many Orthodox in our parishes, who see the world through the PoMo lens. They do not see their Orthodox faith as Truth, and thus seriously undermine our mission, if not confronted w/ the incompatibility of relativism with the Orthodox faith.
3) The temptation is to reject the contemporary world, and take isolate ourselves in our religious (and/or ethnic) ghettos. That’s also a rejection of Christian mission.
4) “Falling prey to the lie that PoMo is a great new opportunity.” Here is where I take issue with Fr. Tom. PoMo may not be a great opportunity, but as all bad things that happen to us, have a good side (and visa-versa!), there are people who are open to encountering Orthodoxy, because of PoMo.
I had asked a friend, who is in the “Emerging Church Movement,” an expression of “Christian Post-Modernism,” just what it is that PoMo Christians are looking for. She shared with me that it was “Experience and relationship.”
In my mind, this is exactly what Orthodoxy has to offer the world. The experience of God and union with Him. This should frame our encounters with PoMos. Older methods of evangelism are obsolete. What they need is to be brought in where they can experience our faith, and relationships need to be developed with them, with out the usual ulterior motives associated with Proselyzing. If we love them simply because of the image of Christ within them, they may be able to encounter God through us. This is after all, what our faith is indeed about.