Friday, August 27, 2010

Modesty Revisited By Wendy Shalit (part 2)



This is part two of this article. The first can be read here.

Four Myths Exposed

A First step toward reviving respect for modesty in our culture is to strike at the myths that undermine it. Let me touch on four of these.

The first myth is that modesty is Victorian. But what about the story of Rebecca and Isaac? When Rebecca sees Isaac and covers herself, it is not because she is trying to be Victorian. Her modesty was the key to what would bring them together and develop a profound intimacy. When we cover up what is external or superficial - what we all share in common - we send a message that what is most important are our singular hearts and minds. This separates us from the animals, and always did, long before the Victorian era.

The second myth about modesty is that it's synonymous with prudery. This was the point of the dreadful movie Pleasantville, the premise of which was that nobody in the 1950s had fun or experienced love. It begins in black and white and turns to color only when the kids enlighten their parents about sex. This of course makes no sense on its face: if the parents didn't know how to do it, then how did all these kids get there in the first place? But it reflects a common conceit of baby boomers that passion, love and happiness were non-existent until modesty was overcome in the 1960s. In truth, modesty is nearly the opposite of prudery. Paradoxically, prudish people have more in common with the promiscuous. The prudish and the promiscuous share a disposition against allowing themselves to be moved by others, or to fall in love. Modesty, on the other hand, invites and protects the evocation of real love. It is erotic, not neurotic.

To illustrate this point, I like to compare photographs taken at Coney Island almost a century ago with photographs from nude beaches in the 1970s. At Coney Island, the beach-goers are completely covered up, but the men and women are stealing glances at one another and seem to be having a great time. On the nude beaches, in contrast, men and women hardly look at each other - rather, they look at the sky. They appear completely bored. That's what those who came after the '60s discovered about this string of dreary hookups: without anything left to the imagination, sex becomes boring.

The third myth is that modesty isn't natural. This myth has a long intellectual history, going back at least to David Hume, who argued that society invented modesty so that men could be sure that children were their own. As Rousseau pointed out, this argument that modesty is a social construct suggests that it is possible to get rid of modesty altogether. Today we try to do just that, and it is widely assumed that we are succeeding. But are we?

In arguing that Hume was wrong and that modesty is rooted in nature, a recently discovered hormone called oxytocin comes to mind. This hormone creates a bonding response when a mother is nursing her child, but is also released during intimacy. Here is physical evidence that women become emotionally bonded to their sexual partners even if they only intend a more casual encounter. Modesty protected this natural emotional vulnerability; it made women strong. But we don't really need to resort to physiology to see the naturalness of modesty. We can observe it on any windy day when women wearing slit skirts hobble about comically to avoid showing their legs - the very legs those fashionable skirts are designed to reveal. Despite trying to keep up with the fashions, these women have a natural instinct for modesty.

The fourth and final myth I want to touch on is that modesty is solely a concern for women. We are where we are today only in part because the feminine ideal has changed. The masculine ideal has followed suit. It was once looked on as manly to be faithful to one woman for life, and to be protective toward all women. Sadly, this is no longer the case, even among many men to whom modest women might otherwise look as kindred spirits. Modern feminists are wrong to expect men to be gentlemen when they themselves are not ladies, but men who value "scoring" and then lament that there are no modest women around anymore - well, they are just as bad. And of course, a woman can be modestly dressed and still be harassed on the street. So the reality is that a lot depends on male respect for modesty. It is characteristic of modern society that everyone wants the other guy to be nice to him without having to change his own behavior, whether it's the feminists blaming the men, the men blaming the feminists, or young people blaming their role models. But that is an infantile posture.

Restoring a Modest Society

JEWS READ a portion of the Torah each week, and in this week's portion there is a story that shows us beautifully, I think, how what we value in women and men are inextricably linked. Abraham is visited by three men, really three angels, and he is providing them with his usual hospitality, when they ask him suddenly, "Where is Sarah your wife?" And he replies, famously, "Behold! In the tent!" Commentators ask, why in the world are the angels asking where Sarah is? They know she is in the tent. They are, after all, angels. And one answer is, to remind Abraham of where she is, in order to increase his love for her. Yet it is not enough for there to be a Sarah who is in the tent; it is also necessary that there be an Abraham who appreciates her. So I think the lesson is clear if we want to reconstruct a more modest, humane society, we have to start with ourselves.

I don't think it's an accident that the most meaningful explication of modesty comes from the Bible. I was fascinated in my research to discover how many secular women are returning to modesty because they found, simply as a practical matter, that immodesty wasn't working for them. In short, they weren't successful finding the right men. For me this prompts an essentially religious question: Why were we created in this way? Why can't we become happy by imitating the animals? In the sixth chapter of Isaiah we read that the fiery angels surrounding the throne of God have six wings. One set is for covering the face, another for covering the legs, and only the third is for flying. Four of the six wings, then, are for modesty's sake. This beautiful image suggests that the more precious something is, the more it must conceal and protect itself. The message of our dominant culture today, I'm afraid, is that we're not precious, that we weren't created in the divine image. I'm saying to the contrary that we were, and that as such we deserve modesty.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Modesty Revisited By Wendy Shalit (part 1)



This was originally posted here. It is fairly long, so we are breaking it into two or three installments.

This afternoon I was reading a magazine for brides in which a woman had submitted the following question: "My fiancé wants us to move in together, but I want to wait until we're married. Am I doing our marriage an injustice?" The editor responded: "Your fiancé should understand why you want to wait to share a home. Maybe you're concerned about losing your identity as an individual. Or maybe you're concerned about space issues."

Space issues? Losing her identity? If this woman cared about those things she wouldn't want to get married in the first place. Her question was a moral one. She wanted to know what would be best for her marriage. And on this - however unbeknownst to the magazine's new-agey editor - the evidence is in: Couples who live together before marriage are much less likely to get married; and if they do marry, they're more likely to get divorced. Yet the vocabulary of modesty has largely dropped from our cultural consciousness; when a woman asks a question that necessarily implicates it, we can only mumble about "space issues."

I first became interested in the subject of modesty for a rather mundane reason - because I didn't like the bathrooms at Williams College. Like many enlightened colleges and universities these days, Williams houses boys next to girls in its dormitories and then has the students vote by floor on whether their common bathrooms should be coed. It's all very democratic, but the votes always seem to go in the coed direction because no one wants to be thought a prude. When I objected, I was told by my fellow students that I "must not be comfortable with my body." Frankly, I didn't get that, because I was fine with my body; it was their bodies in such close proximity to mine that I wasn't thrilled about.

I ended up writing about this experience in Commentary as a kind of therapeutic exercise. But when my article was reprinted in Reader's Digest, a weird thing happened: I got piles of letters from kids who said, "I thought I was the only one who couldn't stand these bathrooms." How could so many people feel they were the "only ones" who believed in privacy and modesty? It was troubling that they were afraid to speak up. When and why, I wondered, did modesty become such a taboo?

Modesty's Loss, Social Pathology's Gain

Many of the problems we hear about today - sexual harassment, date rape, young women who suffer from eating disorders and report feeling a lack of control over their bodies - are all connected, I believe, to our culture's attack on modesty. Listen, first, to the words we use to describe intimacy: what once was called "making love," and then "having sex," is now "hooking up" - like airplanes refueling in flight. In this context I was interested to learn, while researching for my book, that the early feminists actually praised modesty as ennobling to society. Here I'm not just talking about the temperance-movement feminists, who said, "Lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine." I'm talking about more recent feminists like Simone de Beauvoir, who warned in her book, The Second Sex, that if society trivializes modesty, violence against women would result. And she was right. Since the 1960s, when our cultural arbiters deemed this age-old virtue a "hang-up," men have grown to expect women to be casual about sex, and women for their part don't feel they have the right to say "no." This has brought us all more misery than joy. On MTV I have seen a 27-year-old woman say she was "sort of glad" that she had herpes, because now she has "an excuse to say 'no' to sex." For her, disease had replaced modesty as the justification for exercising free choice.

When I talk to college students, invariably one will say, "Well, if you want to be modest, be modest. If you want to be promiscuous, be promiscuous. We all have a choice, and that's the wonderful thing about this society." But the culture, I tell them, can't be neutral. Nor is it subtle in its influence on behavior. In fact, culture works more like a Sherman tank. In the end, if it's not going to value modesty, it will value promiscuity and adultery, and all our lives and marriages will suffer as a result.

to be continued...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Antioch and Alexandria: Two Schools of Thought - part 3 (by Clint)

St. John Chrysostom


This is the final installment of this discussion. The second can be read here and the first can be read here.

There is no doubt that in addition to the theological controversies, there were political considerations in play in these disputes. The Antiochenes had influence in Constantinople, since the Patriarch of Constantinople often came from Antioch. Since Constantinople had passed Alexandria in prestige, there was a continual tension between the two sees. This tension came to include Antioch. During the Nestorian controversy, Antioch and Alexandria broke communion with one another. Though communion was re-established after Nestorius was removed from power, the troubled relationship between the two sees continued for some time.

Though the 3rd Ecumenical Council had denounced Nestorius and his teaching, there were still many Christian teachers who continued to support it. Both the Antiochene teachers Archimandrite Eutyches and Patriarch Flavian of Constantinople were attacked for Nestorianism. Appealing to Pope Leo, they hoped to have his intervention on their behalf. He responded with the writing that has become known as Leo’s Tome, which supported the view that Christ was of two natures and substances that are intact. The followers of St. Cyril often viewed the Tome as little better than Nestorianism. The controversy continued to grow.

Another Council was called, which is now known as the 4th Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451). Drawing upon both writings from St. Cyril and Leo’s Tome, amongst other sources, the council agreed that Chris is “one and the same Son…complete in his deity and complete…in his humanity,” and exists with “one prosopon and one hypostases; but he exists in two natures, which are at once unconfused and unaltered,” yet “undivided and inseparable." Both the writings of Leo and Cyril were also canonized.

While the Council had defined the Orthodox position on the issue, it did not bring unity. In reaction to the debates and decisions in the Council, a large portion of the eastern churches broke fellowship with the Orthodox and founded an organization of Nestorian Churches, which exists to this day. Many of the leaders of this movement were those supporters of Cyril, who had rejected Leo’s Tome as no better than Nestorianism. Though there were attempts to restore this schism, it was never effectively achieved.

It should be noted that not all leaders of the Alexandrian and Antiochene Schools were monolithic in opposition to one another. In fact, there were many prominent teachers and theologians who effectively synthesized the differing viewpoints. St. John Chrysostom serves as an important case study of this. Though associated with the Antiochene School, and even taught by Diodore, who was later condemned, St. John Chrysostom did not follow the excesses of the Antiochene view, nor did he over-react toward the Alexandrian view. While he did tend toward the literal interpretation of scripture, rather than the allegorical, his views of the relationship between Christ and his Church were in agreement with the view of St. Cyril, indicating that he was adhering to truth, rather than espousing a simplistic agreement with his “group.” Speaking of the Incarnation, St. John Chrysostom states:
[Christ’s] Essence did not change to flesh, (it is impiety to imagine this), but continuing what it is, It so took upon It the form of a servant…taking flesh to Himself, His Essence remained untouched…for by an Union and Conjoining, God the Word and the Flesh are One, not by any confusion or obliteration of substances, but by a certain union ineffable, and past understanding.

With these words, it is obvious that the Antiochene St. John held to fully Orthodox beliefs.

Ultimately, the influence of both the Antiochene and Alexandrian Schools helped to shape and develop the Orthodox view of Christology. The allegorical approach of Alexandria was tempered by the literalness of Antioch, and vice versa. Both schools produced schismatic heretics, as well as wonderful Orthodox saints. The resulting conclusions that are still taught by the Orthodox Church were not universally accepted, hence the non-Chalcedon churches that are no longer in communion with Orthodoxy. However, by the efforts of great saints, such as the Alexandrians St. Athanasius and St. Cyril and Antiochenes such as St. John Chrysostom and St. Flavian of Antioch, the Orthodox Church was able to maintain (and restore when necessary) Orthodox theology and teaching over error and heresy, which came from both schools in one form or another.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Katie Wilcoxson Update



Today we have two updates from Katie. The first is a newsletter and the second is a top ten list. I will just include them both in this post.

Ninapenda Tanzania



I am thrilled to have the opportunity to learn Kiswahili and to
become better acquainted with the Tanzanian culture. I am very
excited after class to use the verbs that I learned that day as I have
interactions with my teammates and the people around me. The
Tanzanians as a whole have been remarkably patient and helpful as I
stumble to speak their native tongue--and I stumble a lot. I take the
laughs and giggles as a sign of love and appreciation from the
Tanzanians as I try to speak Kiswahili. It's like being a small child
again, stumbling to use the right word or combination of words as
needed. And there are many things that I enjoy about Kiswahili. For
example the double words: pikipiki (motorcycle) or buibui (spider)
make me laugh like a little girl.

Recently our team had the opportunity to visit our Kiswahili
instructors' homes and families. Near their homes is the Mbagala
Girls Home. We had a tour of the grounds (you can see some of these
pictures at http://kwilcoxson.ocmc.org). As is the case in many
orphanages in Africa, many of the girls at Mblagala have lost one or
both of their parents from HIV/AIDS, malaria, or tuberculosis. The
home is supported and run by the Salvation Army. Pastor Wilson Chacha
is one of many people who keep the home running. We met Pastor Wilson
at the conclusion of our tour. We were introduced to him, and he was
told what our purpose was for being here in Tanzania as well as what
our occupations were. He spoke minimal English, so I took the
opportunity to practice my Kiswahili, especially the words that I
recently learned. I boldly told him "Ninapenda Tanzania" (I love
Tanzania). He was elated to hear those words come out of my mouth.
He then asked in English "Do you want to live here? Do you want to
become a citizen of Tanzania? All you have to do is live here for six
years then you can ask the government to give you citizenship. They
won't give you any problems. They will happily let you become a
Tanzanian!"

I truly believe "I love you" is the best phrase in any language!


Top 10 Tanzanian Things You can Buy From Vendors Who Approach You When
You are Stuck in Traffic or Sitting Down for a Meal.

10. Water or Soda

9. Sugar Cane, Pickled dates, or Tangerines/Oranges/Bananas

8. Bumper Stickers or Posters of Celebrities/Presidents

7. Packaged Cookies, Ice Cream, or Assorted Nuts

6. Tennis Rackets, Children's Toys/clothes, Assorted Children's School
Supplies with characters/celebrities on cell phone minute cards

5. DVD Trilogy of the lives of Barack Obama/Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete
(current President of Tanzania) and the Koran. Any DVD for that
matter.

4. Watches, Belts, T-shirts, Shoes, Ties, Children's clothing, Hats,
or Jewelry

3. Pillows, Beach Towels, Sweat rags, or Steering Wheel Covers.

2. One cigarette (not a pack)
And the Number One thing you can buy from Tanzanian vendors IS (wait
for it): Underwear

Who needs Wal-mart?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Antioch and Alexandria: Two Schools of Thought - part 2 (by Clint)


St. Cyril of Alexandria



This is part 2 of this topic. The first can be read here.


While there was an Orthodox contingent within Alexandria, the main opponents of the heretical teachings came from the Antiochene School, centered in Antioch. Unlike the Alexandrians, who preferred an allegorical approach to scriptural interpretation, the Antiochenes tended toward a more literal interpretation and relied more upon Aristotelian philosophy. They also proposed a “Word-man” Christology that the Logos united himself fully with a human body, including the soul. Though this did agree with St. Athanasius, the Antiochenes were more detailed and expansive in their descriptions of this fact. St. Gregory of Nazianzus stated that “that which He has not assumed he has not healed, but that which is united to his Godhead is also saved."

These two schools came into direct conflict when the disciple of Apollinaris, Vitalis, brought Apollinarianism to Antioch and was denounced by not only the Antiochenes, but Pope Damasus of Rome. At this point, the Antiochenes were troubled by talk of Jesus, as truly being God, thirsting, suffering or dying. Unfortunately, their reaction to Apollinarianism would eventually result in heretical teaching from Antioch. Diodore of Tarsus disputed the teaching of Apollinaris, but went too far in the other direction. He claimed that there was a clear division of humanity and divinity within Christ. This viewpoint was carried on by Diodore’s disciple, Theodore of Mopsuestia, who explicitly taught that within Christ were two natures and two hypostases. To account for this, he taught that the Logos indwelt the man, but in a special way.

Diodore’s and Theodore’s teachings reached their climax with Nestorius, an Antiochene monk who became Patriarch of Constantinople. He claimed that God could not have a human mother; hence the term Theotokos was untenable as applied to the Virgin Mary, and preferred to use Christotokos. This is dependent upon the concept that Christ existed as two persons, one human and one divine, dwelling within one man. While Alexandria had produced the heresies from Origen and Apollinaris, Antioch produced Nestorianism in reaction to them.

When the news of Nestorius’ teaching reached St. Cyril of Alexandria, he reacted swiftly and severely. St. Cyril advocated the Orthodox view and through his influence, the 3rd Ecumenical Council was convened in Ephesus (431 AD), where Nestorianism was condemned. This council decreed that Christ existed as both human and divine, with a rational soul and body. The Virgin Mary was proclaimed to be truly Theotokos since she gave birth to God as man. The two natures of Christ existed, in a mystery, in such a way as to not interfere or change one another. It was apparent at this time that the mainstream of the School of Alexandria was Orthodox, while that of the Antiochenes was heterodox.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Antioch and Alexandria: Two Schools of Thought - part 1 (by Clint)

St. Athanasius



The two schools of thought that arose in Antioch and Alexandria, respectively, were developed because of a common debate – namely, the Christological controversies that began with the advent of Arianism. Though this heresy had been condemned in the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea (325 AD), debates continued concerning the nature of Jesus and his relationship within the Godhead. Specifically, the arguments focused upon the divinity and humanity of Christ and how those two natures co-existed within his person. Out of these debates, the two great schools developed and were generally in conflict with one another. However, rather than viewing the two schools of thought as being constantly at odds with one another, there were many examples of agreement and synthesis of the opposing viewpoints. The debates that stemmed from the differing approaches led to three more Ecumenical Councils and lasting schisms amongst the churches of the East.

The Alexandrian School traces its beginnings to such important historical figures as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Apollinaris and Dionysius of Alexandria. These men were well known and even considered great teachers, but ultimately, their teachings regarding the second person of the Godhead were deemed heretical, beginning with the Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople (381 AD). However, their influence continued, even affecting individuals within the School of Alexandria that remained thoroughly Orthodox. Some of the key components that they passed on were to stress the allegorical type of interpretation of the scriptures, the separateness of the three Persons within the Godhead and a blending of Platonism with Christianity.

Where these teachers deviated from Orthodoxy was in denying the absolute relationship between the three persons of the Godhead. Their view amounted to the Son being “lower” than the Father. Likewise, as the Logos, Christ underwent none of the limitations of humanity, as His humanity was overtaken and indistinguishable from His divinity. This Christology can be called the “Word-flesh” theology. Though these teachers condemned Arianism, many of the logical extrapolations from their works hinted at agreement with that heresy, especially regarding the nature of matter.

Though many of the early leaders of the Alexandrian School were eventually considered heretics, there were also many who maintained the Orthodox Faith, and their views eventually came to dominate the focus and direction of the school. St. Athanasius devoted much of his time and writings to fighting Arianism. St. Athanasius declared that the Logos was truly and fully God, but that Jesus also took on a human nature that hungered and thirsted. The importance of this view is that while both natures are present in Christ, they are not so comingled that they are indistinguishable. Two synods (one in Rome and another in Antioch) both confirmed this view by saying that “the Son of God was born as a complete human being."

to be continued...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Baptism: A Community Event- part 4 (by Clint)

This is a picture of Fr. Christopher Foley of Holy Cross Orthodox Church (OCA) in High Point, NC chrismating a parishioner. Fr. Christopher is the priest who received my family as catechumens over two years ago and is a very dear friend.



This is the final installment on this discussion of Baptism. The third part can be read here and the other two can be linked from the third post.



In both instances, it is evident that both Baptism and the Eucharist speak to the eternal salvation of the Church. Baptism leads to the image of Christ being placed into the Christians, while the Eucharist is the reception of Christ Himself. The two events are intricately tied together. It makes no sense to try to separate them, except for the purposes of discussion. They are part of one integrated whole that cannot be disunited. To do so would cause both to become less than what they should be.

While it may be common that this disunity is found in Orthodoxy today, the common Orthodox tradition is that they are united and wholly related to one another. Both speak to the life that comes from and through Christ. Both are an important part of the communion that man seeks to have with God. Both are heavily related to the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord. It is through these two sacraments that the Christian, and therefore the Church as a whole, is continually united to Christ.

So both Baptism and the Eucharist are ecclesial events, wherein the Church is united to Christ, maintains that unity and finds identity, existence and purpose. The Eucharist serves as a recommitment to the covenant between God and man that was entered into at Baptism. To lose the close relationship of the two events is to cheapen them both, causing their true meaning to be diminished. Regardless of any recent problems in this regard, the task of the Orthodox Church is to be the pillar and support of the Truth (1 Timothy 3:15). Knowledge of the connection between these two sacraments is important for individual Christians, because it is through that understanding that the strength of the whole Church is enhanced.

Here are the works that I used to develop these posts on Baptism:

Cabasilas, Nicholas. The Life in Christ. St. Vladimir’s: Crestwood, 1974.

Carlton, Clark. The Life: The Orthodox Doctrine of Salvation. Regina: Salisbury, MA, 2000.

Hapgood, Isabel Florence. Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church, 7th ed. Antiochian Orthodox Christian Diocese: Englewood, NJ, 1996.

Kelly, J.N.D. Early Christian Doctrines. Harper Collins: San Francisco, 1978.

Kodell, Jerome. The Eucharist In The New Testament. The Liturgical Press: Collegeville, 1988.

Schmemann, Alexander. For the Life of the World. St. Vladimir’s: Crestwood, 1973.

Schmemann, Alexander. Of Water &The Spirit. St. Vladimir’s: Crestwood, 2000.

“The Didache.” The Apostolic Fathers, 2nd ed. Ed. Michael W. Holmes, Trs. J.B. Lightfoot and J.R. Harmer. Baker: Grand Rapids, 1989.

Ware, Timothy. The Orthodox Church. Penguin: London, 1997.

Zizioulas, John D. Being as Communion. St. Vladimir’s: Crestwood, 2002.

A series of updates from Floyd and Ancuta Frantz



We are including several updates from Floyd and Ancuta. They are all fairly short, so it seemed appropriate to place them together. Continue to pray for them and for all our OCMC missionaries.

UPDATE #1

Greetings!


Greetings, and I hope that this finds you well today, and in good spirits on this the feast day of the Transfiguration. Here in Romania, we refer to this day as "Schimbarea la Fata", or "The Changing of the Face". Because it is a "holy day" in our church, I was at Liturgy this morning, and I very blessed for being there. I would like to share with you about this blessing.

I was standing near the front of the church, but off in a corner. Here in Romania few churches have pews, and everyone stands for the entire Liturgy, except for the aged. I noticed one of our group members coming past me, and saw that he went up to the front, near the alter area, and knelt to pray. I see him in the church frequently when I attend at the Cathedral. I could not help but to reflect on him, and how his life has been changed since he came to our program nearly 10 years ago.

Back then he was angry, near divorce, and had very poor relations with everyone, even in his family. Although he has a good education, he was having a difficult time working and keeping a job because his alcoholism was out of control. He was isolated from friends, and had lost touch with his own values. He was far from God, and far from peace, especially with his own self.

Today I saw him kneeling to pray, after greeting a friend in the church. From his treatment experience with us I know that he now has peace with his family, and has a wealth of friends in recovery whom he can talk to and share life with on its terms. That he has peace with God was today evedent to me. I greeted him after Liturgy, while still in the church, and he gave me a beautiful smile.....peaceful and loving, and yet with a strength that can only come with faith in Someone greater than self.

Thank you for letting me share this with you, it was in my heart to do so.

Thank you for your support, for your good words, and most of all for your prayers.

Floyd & Ancuta

UPDATE # 2
Greetings, and I hope that this finds you well today, and in good spirits on this the feast day of the Dormition of the Theotokos. Here in Romania, we refer to this day as "Adormirea Maicii Domnului", or "The Falling Asleep of the Mother of God".

Just a short note today, last Tuesday there was a program on the British Broadcasting Network (BBC) about the Romanian health care system, which also gave focus on the problem of tuberculosis here in Romania. You can see part of the program and read the text at this link: www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe We have a program in a Tb hospital in Savadisla, and work with the health care system almost daily. The article is very close to what is happening and so I thought that I would share it with you.

Thank you for your support, for your good words, and most of all for your prayers.

Floyd & Ancuta

UPDATE #3


Greetings, and I hope that this finds you well today, and in good spirits.

On Sunday is ended my article with "The article is very close to what is happening and so I thought that I would share it with you." Yesterday we had a new, very tragic event happen in Bucharest, and again, "The article is very close to what is happening and so I thought that I would share it with you."

Maternity ward explosion
[note: we here at Saint James' Kids changed the link, as the other one seemed to be broken. This is the same story, though]

Please do pray for us here in Romania, and especially for the families which were affected by this tragedy.

Thank you for your support, for your good words, and most of all for your prayers.

Floyd & Ancuta


FINAL UPDATE

OCMC Missionary Floyd Frantz Receives "Crucea Transilvania" for 10-years of Service in Romania
Ancuta Frantz

On a very beautiful summer morning in the beginning of July, Bishop Vasile invited Floyd and me, along with Christina Semon, Fr. Marcus and Preotasa Barbara Burch (St. John of the Ladder, OCA) , and an OCMC mission team from the United States to attend a special Divine Liturgy in a small village outside of Cluj. The occasion was the ordination of Simion, who had been appointed by the Cluj archdiocese to be the new spiritual advisor for the St. Dimitrie Program.

This small village named "Risca", rests at the very heart of Transilvania set in the Carpathian Mountains . It is a place of unusual beauty where the local Romanian's still respect their traditions, and so many people attended the Liturgy wearing their ancient traditional costumes. We were also joined by more than 10 priests and deacons, and our most blessed Bishop Vasilie.

It was a great surprise that after the ordination of Simion, and the Divine Liturgy, Bishop Vasile announced that he was bestowing the "Cross of Transilvania" on my husband Floyd. This was in recognition of his 10 years of service to the Orthodox Church in Romania and the Republic of Moldova which has focused on helping the Church to provide substance abuse counseling to people who struggle with this debilitating disease. It was quite remarkable that this honor was given to Floyd in the name of Metropolitan Bartalomeu because it is infrequently given.

The following was written on the certificate which accompanied the silver Crucea Transilvania: "This high medal was conferred to Mr. Floyd Frantz , coordinator of the St. Dimitrie Program in appreciation and recognition of sincere love for the Romanian Orthodox Church, and for the remarkable help accorded the Archdiocese of Cluj through charitable missionary and pastoral service."

Floyd was very pleasantly surpr ised by this honor, and graciously accepted the blessings from Bishop Vasilie to continue his work with strength, love and good health. All of this came as Floyd is completing 10 years of service to the Church here in Romania , and the award was a sign of the gratitude of the hierarchy, and a blessing to continue his work, which they hold in high regard.

Please continue to pray for us here in Romania . Pray that the work we do serves as a witness to the hope, love, and salvation made possible through Christ. Pray that His name will be glorified among all people around the world.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Update from James Hargrave in Tanzania




Dear friends,

Furaha na amani! Joy and peace!

And greetings from Geita, Tanzania. I have spent the past two weeks here participating in a youth seminar at Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church. Teaching staff at the seminar are mostly from overseas: I have joined OCMC Missionary Charita Stavrou as well as a Teaching Team sent from the Orthodox Church of Finland and from OCMC in the United States. Together we are nine foreigners working together with local staff directing a program for over seventy young adults from Geita region and the surrounding area.

Geita is a gold-mining town inland, about 90 minutes' drive from Lake Victoria. The mineral wealth of the soil is apparent: it is a deep red clay studded with iron ore and other rocks. The roads are lined with kilns and stacks of red bricks for sale; nearly all the local houses are built either from baked red brick or unbaked brown brick. In the dry season (right now), the soil turns into a powdery red dust that blankets everything-- buildings, trees, clothes, cars, even the beaks of the four-foot-tall marabou storks who are Geita's equivalent of pigeons. (Pigeons are prettier)

I was grateful to be invited at the last minute to join the Finland/ OCMC Teaching Team. We met in Dar es Salaam, and traveled together to Mwanza where we were greeted at the airport by His Eminence Metropolitan Jeronymos and diocesan staff. This was my first visit to the city where I will eventually live, and my first opportunity to meet my bishop face-to-face. At last!

Everyone says that Mwanza is beautiful. They say this because Mwanza is beautiful. It is a city of rocks. Nearly one million people live among huge granite boulders and steep stony hills cascading down to Lake Victoria. From anywhere in the city you can look up and see the great rocks, or you can look down to the shining Lake. Hawks, eagles, ibises, storks and cranes circle overhead. Some buildings are perched on top of boulders, and others have walls hewn from the living stone. The mineral wealth is staggering. I'm told that Heaven paves its streets with gold. I'm also told that Mwanza fills its potholes with amethyst.

This rich land provides rich food. Lake Victoria fish are as tasty as anything I can imagine. Geita pineapples are sweeter than anything I could ever imagine. The abundant fruits of this soil produce a cuisine that is varied and flavorful. I've never eaten better in my life. (Sorry, Mom)

Spending this time in the Archdiocese of Mwanza, among the faithful of one of its regions, is giving me the opportunity to observe the local Church in action. I am very impressed. I'm impressed at how well local leadership has integrated us foreign visitors into their educational program, and at how well the local Church has been caring for the youth at the seminar. Every day begins either with Liturgy or Matins, and concludes with Vespers. Since the Dormition Fast began on 1st August, we also pray Paraklesis following Vespers. Being immersed in the liturgical life of the Church is a great joy-- and it's really helping my Kiswahili!

Our students are aged roughly 15 to 30 and are mostly from the regions surrounding Geita, from subsistence-farming families of the Sukuma ethnic group. All of them speak Kiswahili, most are literate, and many have completed a basic primary education. They are baptized Orthodox Christians who are serious about their faith, but there is a wide range in knowledge about the faith that they confess. Some are trained catechists, while others are still learning about the Incarnation.

Observing classes and listening to students' questions, I am getting a glimpse of the lives of local Orthodox Christian faithful. The challenges faced by people here are not trivial. There is real suffering, and there are great problems. The enormity of these problems, and the difficulties of daily life, seems overwhelming at times. I am reminded hour by hour that we can depend on God alone. At the same time, there is true and abundant beauty.

And so, profound difficulties are mixed with great blessings. There is unrivalled joy in Geita and Mwanza, in the midst of deep sorrow. The Orthodox Christian temples are monuments, built to proclaim Christ's Resurrection for generations to come. The ranks of the faithful increase daily. The bishop shines with love for his flock, and Church leadership is of the highest caliber and devotion that I've seen anywhere. By God's grace through your prayers, the Church of Mwanza strives to be worthy of the great task set before her.

And I really get to live here! I get to be part of it all!

God willing, I will return to Dar es Salaam on Sunday 8th August and begin preparation for a permanent move back to Mwanza. There are two immediate practical considerations. First, I have visa issues yet to be resolved. Second, I have to find a place to live. His Eminence has given me two criteria for a house: that it be safe, and that it be close to Church property so that I can participate fully in the daily liturgical life. Please pray as I work to finalize my immigration status and search for a suitable home in Mwanza.

Thank you for sending me here. Thank you for the financial support that allows me to live in Mwanza and participate in this great work. Thank you for your friendship, for your encouragement, and especially for your holy prayers that will sustain and enrich my joy in this beautiful and needy land. May the uncreated light of Tabor transfigure your lives on this joyous feast and, by your prayers, may the light of Christ shine ever more brightly here in Tanzania.

Please stay in touch.

By your prayers,

James Hargrave



PS I'd like to tell you a little about the Finland/ OCMC Teaching Team that I was blessed to join at the youth seminar in Geita.

Our leader, Outi Vasko, is from Helsinki and serves on the board of the Finnish Orthodox Mission. This is her third time in Tanzania, and she is a leader in the missionary and inter-church activities of the Finnish Orthodox Church. She is joined by a fellow board member, Father Tapio Rautamaki who pastors two Helsinki parishes in addition to his day job. This is his second visit to Tanzania. Outi and Father Tapio are here together with Jaso Possi, a young theologian from Jyuaskyla who is preparing for ordained ministry.

Among the Americans is Jean Jolly from Tampa, FL. It was a special joy to see Jean here because her home parish, St Philip's, welcomed me warmly last summer as I began raising support for my work in Tanzania. She is joined by Irene and Anastasios Sakkas, a young couple from Falls Church, VA. Irene and Taso's presence here together gives seminar participants a living example of healthy Christian marriage, which is as valuable as anything any of us could teach. The youngest member of the Team is Nicholas Petrogeorge from Pittsburgh, PA. Niko came here fresh from a month as a camp counselor back in the States-- and I'm not sure which was more challenging.

And of course, we are blessed to have fellow OCMC Missionary Charita Stavrou teaching with us. Mama Stavrou has been in Mwanza since March. She is creating vestments and liturgical fabrics for the parishes, teaching at events such as this one, praying faithfully and loving everyone. Wherever Mama Stavrou goes, joy and peace surround her.

There is only so much that a group of Americans and Europeans, working through translators, can accomplish during two weeks in rural Tanzania. If you can't understand the language, and if you aren't familiar with local culture, the ways that you can participate in people's lives are limited. These truths cannot be ignored.

Nevertheless, the Team's presence here has been of great value. Local Sukuma faithful are meeting fellow Christians whose love has brought them to the other side of the world. Team members know and love their faith, they are good teachers, and their work is making a real impact. They bear witness to the love that Christians of two distant nations have for the people of yet another country. Each of these Team members now will return home and spread the news of the life and witness of the Tanzanian Orthodox Church. This is of no small value to us who remain in Africa. It was also a personal encouragement for me to have the Team here, and I am eager to welcome next year's guests. If you'd like to come help us out in the summer of 2011, you can inquire by emailing teams@ocmc.org or by visiting http://teams.ocmc.org .

Baptism: A Community Event- part 3 (by Clint)



This is a continuation of this series. Part one can be read here. Part two can be read here.

In American Orthodoxy today, unfortunately, many have come to view the Eucharist as just one of many sacraments. This is usually related to the same reasons that many view Baptism as an “individual” event. These people see sacraments as means of personal sanctification, rather than a true work of the church (or liturgy). The reality is that the Eucharist is intimately related to all other sacraments and is the focus and fulfillment of them all. But many Christians have lost that perspective. This loss of perspective has led to infrequent communion for many and thereby a loss in the continual progression of the Christian journey that was begun at Baptism.

In my personal experience (in become Orthodox), I don’t recall that there was explicit instruction concerning the connection between Baptism and the Eucharist. However, the prominence and importance of both was taught. There was a year-long catechumenate where various aspects of Orthodoxy were included in the instruction. We did cover Baptism and the Eucharist in detail. However, since many catechumens come from Western Churches (whether Roman Catholic or Protestant), much time was taken to describe the Orthodox position in relation to the others.

In any event, if a person listens to the Liturgical Prayers of the Church, the reality of both Baptism and the Eucharist are clearly evident. During the baptismal service, the Deacon prays that “he who is baptized…may be made worthy of the kingdom incorruptible.” As that prayer is being said, the Priest is praying silently that God will “…create the image of thy Christ in him who now desireth to be born again…” After the baptism is completed, the Priest continues, “The servant of God [name] is clothed with the robe of righteousness."

During the Eucharist, the Church prays that by partaking of the Holy Mysteries, they will receive “healing of soul and body.” Then when the Christians receive the body and blood, they Priest pronounces: “The servant of God [name] partaketh of the holy Body and Blood of our Lord, and God, and Saviour, Jesus Christ, unto the remission of his sins, and unto life everlasting."

To be continued....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Katie Wilcoxson Update and Interesting Info on Tanzanian Culture



This first portion is Katie's newsletter. We have included some other information that Katie sent along about Tanzanian culture.

The past two weeks have had their ups and downs. I think I
finally left the honeymoon stage of being a missionary. It is okay
though; I am looking towards the future! I have been so blessed to
have the opportunity to speak and skype with my friends. It makes a
huge difference also to be able to skype with my folks.

Two weeks ago we welcomed Fr. David Rucker and his son Ethan. It was
wonderful to be with them; we all had a great time together. The team
visited Father at the Catholic Hostel where he was staying. Felice
and I were very interested in the possibilty moving to this
hostel. Father and Ethan headed to Mwanza, the new Diocesan head
quarters for His Eminence Jeronymos in the northern part of
Tanzania. Father was able to give us a quick report about his visit
with the Archbishop, and there is a good possibility that we will move
to Mwanza within the next two months. This move will bring us closer
to our final destination, Bukoba, where the Holy Resurrection Hospital
is located.

A week later, Felice and I decided to move into the Catholic
Hostel just down the road from the Salvation Army compound. We would
still attend Kiswalhili lessons, get our laundry done, and eat meals
at the Salvation Army. The people at this new hostel are some of the
most welcoming and good hearted people around. Felice and I moved our
luggage into the rooms with the help of our taxi driver and the
hostel's very kind staff. We, like many women, pack heavy bags, but
important supplies are sometimes heavy. We decided to get separate
rooms this time around. We feel very blessed to have been able to
move into a more contemporary hostel. In the process we met a very
nice taxi driver named Bernard. Bernard has become our personal taxi
driver. We just call him, and he comes to pick us up. It is very
nice to have one person to call and to have someone with whom we have
a relationship. I enjoy practicing my Kiswalhili with him, and I am
finding that I am able to chat with people on the streets after I
finally decided I would start conversing in the language. Tanzanians
are not only very grateful for someone's willingness to speak their
language, but they are very patiently teaching us the proper
pronunciations.

This past Thursday Mama Jango (our Tanzanian culture instructor)
took us to one of the larger market places in downtown Tanzania. The
market was huge, and I took come very interesting pictures (please
check the website for them). Mama Jango made sure we didn't get
scammed by vendors charging us too much. She also made sure we didn't
set ourselves up to be pick pocketed. The afternoon seemed longer
than it was; we all learned a lot and were able to purchase things we
wouldn't have been able to purchase otherwise.

Classes with Christopher are going well. Christopher reminds me
everyday to "fight to learn Kiswalhili." "Fight" he says "fight
hard." Christopher is not only my Kiswalhili teacher, he is also one
of the guards for the Salvation Army, and he is also a farmer. Just
like in the states, Tanzanians have to work several jobs to make ends
meet.

I cannot believe it has been almost a whole month since I arrived in
Africa. I told Felice today, "You know what I just realized? I live
in Africa!!"

Some Tanzanian Traditions and Culture brought to you by Mama Jango via katie

Note from the editor: These are examples from different tribes and do
not represent the beliefs and practices of all the people of
Tanzania.


Pregnancy and Childbirth

In some tribes in Africa when women become pregnant they move in with
their parents/grandparents/in-laws and live with them until the child
is born to learn how to be a mom and to learn about pregnancy and
childbirth.

Most women now are having their children in a hospital. This is due
to a campaign started by the government to educate woman on how much
healthier it is to do this. Sometimes the birth happens before it is
possible for the woman to get to a hospital.
Many women give birth and leave the next day from the hospital. In
the hospital it is very common to have four women to one twin bed.

After birth, in some tribes, the woman is instructed to lie on her
stomach for 40 days and seclude herself and her baby during this
time. This is also done when the woman is eating. The women believe
that lying on their stomachs will flatten their bellies and increase
digestion. After the 40 days the woman can move around more freely
and start doing the cooking and cleaning once again.

Naming of the Child



Many times family members will ask that the to-be-born child be named
after them.

Some families write down three names and let a child pick from a
hat.

Some women name their child after an event that happened during their
pregnancy. The child could be named the Swahili equivalent to "year
of the big flood." Example: Many women named their sons "Obama" in
2009 when Barak Obama became president.

One the downside, sometimes a woman will become pregnant out of
wedlock, and the child is named the Swahili equivalent to "sadness" or
"unwanted". This is due to the mother being scolded and harassed for
becoming pregnant out of wedlock.

Many children aren't named until 40 days after they are born.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Euro-English - HUMOR



Here is a little humor for you.

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c".. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f".. This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi TU understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.

If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl.

Baptism: A Community Event- part 2 (by Clint)

Hale Baptism from Fr. James Early on Vimeo.



This is the second part of this discussion. The first part can be read here.

One way in which the desired unity is still practiced is by the taking of a Saint’s name at Baptism. In this way, the new Christian symbolizes his or her unity to the Church, both on earth and in heaven. The personal experience that I have had demonstrated this. I took St. Juvenaly, Proto-martyer, as my Patron. In this way, not only do I have a tangible person to pray to and with, but I am also able to identify with the reality that I am a part of a larger whole – much of which I cannot personally see. Yet that reality is there, nonetheless.

Another tangible way in which the ecclesial nature of Baptism is made manifest is by the connection it has with the Eucharist. St. Paul addressed this issue to the Church in Corinth, dealing with abuses that they were committing (1 Corinthians 11). The logical connection between the two is not difficult to discern. The Revelation of St. John shows us that Christ himself “loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” at baptism (1:5). In the same way, at the Eucharist, Christians consume the body and blood of Jesus. The cup (of Christ’s blood) represents and renews the covenant made at Baptism. Early Church Fathers demonstrated that the identity and existence Christians obtain at Baptism is demonstrated fully in the Church’s existence as a “Eucharistic community." Just as Baptism serves as the entrance into that community, so the Eucharist serves as the very life of God that comes into the community.

Fr. Schmemman declared that “…Baptism, Chrismation and Eucharist ‘belong together’…in such a way that it is impossible fully to understand the meaning of one in separation and isolation from the other two." It is in the communion of the Mysteries that the climax of the liturgy is reached (of which Baptism is a part). In this way, the Eucharist is the fulfillment of Baptism. Through Baptism, Christians are born anew to partake of the Life of Christ, which is fully manifested in the Eucharist. We read in Leviticus 17:11 that life is in the blood and it is blood that makes atonement for sin, referring specifically to Christ’s sacrifice, His Blood, and the life that comes from it. The Christian comes into contact with that blood for the first time at Baptism and partakes of that blood each time the Eucharist is consumed.

The desired result of the consumption of the body and blood of Christ is to have His body and blood become intermingled with our own. We hope to develop the mind of Christ and to be able to declare with St. Paul, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Since this journey toward Christ-likeness began at Baptism and is furthered by the participation in the Eucharist, the two Sacraments are intimately related. Identity and Unity were conferred at Baptism. It is via the Eucharist that the Christian is continually carried into the Heavenlies, to take on the reality of Christ. He again passes from the old into the new, from the world into the heavens. He received life at Baptism and consumes the Mysteries in order to live. In the body and blood of Christ, God has infused life-giving power.

to be continued...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Baptism: A Community Event - Part 1 (by Clint)



The importance of the role of Baptism in the life of the Christian and the Church is seldom disputed by any Christian theological tradition. However, the particular components of a Baptismal Theology are varied and contradictory amongst those various theological traditions. In this essay, the role of Baptism as an ecclesial event, the connection between Baptism and the Eucharist and the contemporary practice in American Orthodoxy (as experienced by the author) will be discussed. Hopefully, a clear connection to 2000 years of Orthodox tradition will be brought to light.

The Didache makes an important comment regarding the status of Baptism as an ecclesial, or “whole-church” event. It is not an explicit comment, but important nonetheless. When giving instructions pertaining to the practice of Baptism, it states: “…before the baptism, let the one baptizing and the one who is to be baptized fast, as well as any others who are able." From the earliest days of the Christian Church, Baptism was viewed as the entrance of the penitent sinner into the Body of Christ. There is a union between the Christians and Christ during baptism. Many in the West view this as an individual union, but Orthodoxy has always looked upon it as a group-oriented ritual, as evidenced by the quote from The Didache. This idea was further developed when St. John Chrysostom taught that there was no “multiplicity of bodies, but one body… we are united with Christ and with one another.”

The continued teaching of Orthodoxy concerning Baptism is that the event serves first as a new birth (St. John 3:5). Christians have been given existence through Christ’s life. In addition, the baptized are identified with Christ’s death and resurrection (Romans 6:5-11). Yet this identity in Christ is manifested in the life of the Church. The Church not only prepares the catechumen for entrance into the Body of Christ, it is the very vehicle through which the Christian life is lived out on a daily basis.

St. Paul provides a wonderful metaphor concerning the Church in 1 Corinthians 12. There the Apostle says:

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. (verses 12-14)


So Christians are baptized into ONE body, composed of all the members of the Church. Baptism serves as the ritual through which the sinner is received into the body of the whole. Just as a human body participates in the actions of each constituent member, so the whole Church participates in the actions (Baptism, in this case) of each member.

Unfortunately, this ecclesial nature is often absent in modern practice. Many view Baptism as a family event, referring to the earthly family, rather than the Church family. It is often practiced outside of the corporate worship of the Church. It is important that the Church rediscover the fact that Baptism shapes who we are as the Body of Christ. As Fr. Schmemann further states: “the entire faith is given to each, and each one is responsible for the whole faith." This leads to reality that through Baptism the Church as a whole is renewed.

to be continued...

Friday, August 13, 2010

World's Largest Diskos and Chalice

H/T to Byzantine Texas.

On July 28, the commemoration day of St. Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles and the Day of the Baptism of Rus’, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Dormition Laura of the Caves in Kiev. The liturgy took place in the monastery’s square overcrowded with worshippers. The service was broadcast live by the Ukrainian television.

After the Lesser Entrance, Patriarch Kirill elevated Archbishop Alexander of Kazakhstan and Astana to the rank of metropolitan in keeping with to the Holy Synod’s decision defining the canonical and legal state of the metropolitanate in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

After the reading of the Gospel the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church delivered a sermon.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Update on Floyd and Ancuta Frantz in Romania



Here is the latest update from Floyd and Ancuta Frantz, OCMC missionaries to Romania:



Sunday, July 18, 2010 Eighth Sunday after Pentacost

The St. Dimitrie Post


An Online Publication of OCMC Missionary Floyd Frantz
Join Our Mailing List
Quick Links
Visit our web page at WWW.OCMC.ORG

Greetings!

Greetings, and I hope that this finds you well today, and in good spirits on this the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost.

Anca and I are having a day at home after Liturgy. It's too hot to go out, so I am getting some emails caught up, and thought that I would write a few lines to you as well.

Last week I was talking to a friend of mine in the States. He asked me about our financial situation, and in the process of explaining it he suggested that I write a newsletter about it, and so here it is.

Simply put, the financial situation of the St. Dimitrie Program is not doing very well. Our situation is such that I need to ask you to make a donatation, and even a small amount would be appreciated. We have a few loyal donors, and they are helping us a great deal, but we have lost several donors over the past year or so. Our donations have decrease because of the global financial crisis, of this I am sure.

Last year was not so bad, as we had obtained some local grants which helped us through 2009 and into early this year. Now those grants are either no longer available, or they are much smaller and more difficult to obtain. We are hopeful for future local funding, as at the current time it makes up about 50% of our total budgets. We are not in dispair about this, as we know that with God's help and your donations we will get through this difficult time.

The Protection of the Theotokos Family Center is doing a little better, as they are getting more local support for the children, but their account is also low and in need of support.

Please do pray about this, and if our Lord so moves your heart to help consider making a donation to the St. Dimitrie Program during the month sometime. You can also sign up for a monthly pledge for the St. Dimitrie Program at OCMC's web site by clicking the link at the bottom of the email. To mail in a donation, use

OCMC
220 MASON MANATEE WAY
ST AUGUSTINE, FL. 32086, note on the check that it is for the St. Dimitrie Program in Romania.

Please don't' think that a $10 donation is too small to bother with, as it would help us greatly. In todays Gospel reading, our Lord multiplied the loaves and fishes. I am sure that He will do the same for your donation as well. Of course a larger donation is good also, if your circumstances permit you to be more generous.

One last thing about this, if you would like to talk to me personally about our needs, please feel free to call me at 316-243-0152. The computer age allows me to live here in Romania and to have a U.S. phone number. It is a Kansas number, and rings here in Romania through the Internet so it is a U.S. call. If I do not answer, it will give you a voice mail option, but I will be able to listen to it when I go online, and will call you if you leave a call back number. Also, if you have "Skype", my user name is simply "floydfrantz" so you can call me or leave me a message on Skype also. Or if you prefer, my email address is listed below, as is Ancuta's.

This year is my tenth year here in Romania and I see our work over here bearing fruit daily in our projects. I say "our", because you my pray partners and donors are truely making our being here possible, and so I say that it is "our work". This week I'll be sending you out some updates about our activities, which your support is making possible.

In the meantime, please do pray for us here in Romania, we all need them. We have had case sent to us from a different archdiocese who has been staying with us for about 5 weeks. Please pray for "Michael", or "Mihai" in Romanian. He has some some special needs that I cannot go into, but needs some prayers. And feel free to send us your prayer requests as well.

In His Love,
One Day at a Time,
Floyd & Ancuta Frantz, OCMC Missionaries to Romania


Please know that you can pass our postings on to others who you believe might be interested in our work.

If you would like to contact us through email, please use: Stdimitrie@yahoo.com for myself and the St. Dimitrie Program, or Ancutafrantz@yahoo.com for Anca and the Protection Center.

To make a donation online please go to the Orthodox Christian Mission Center web site at
www.ocmc.org

will need to log into a donation web page, but it is a simple proess, and it is very important to us.


We do thank you for your interest in our work, for your support, and most of all for your prayers.

In His Love,
One day at a time,
Floyd & Ancuta Frantz, OCMC Missionaries

Monday, August 9, 2010

Funeral Sermon for Fr. Matthew MacKay

Fr. Matthew and me performing a Chrismation, Pascha 2010


Here is the sermon that I preached at the funeral service for Fr. Matthew MacKay on July 30.


The Archpriest Matthew MacKay, my spiritual father, pastor, brother priest and friend, was the epitome of what a Christian priest and pastor should be. He radiated the life of Jesus through his own life. He even looked like Jesus! He was a little bit older , he had a little less hair, and his hair and beard were whiter than those of our Lord, but in spite of this, when you were with him, you felt like you were with Jesus.


My daughter Beth certainly thought so, at least. One time several years ago, when Beth was two years old, she saw Fr. Matthew standing in the hallway after the Divine Liturgy. She was very thirsty, and Fr. Matthew was standing next to the water fountain. So, she went up to him and said, “Jesus, I need some water!” In his typical humble way, Fr. Matthew laughed and said, “No, I’m not Him. I just work for him!”

In this time of great shock, loss, and grief, today’s Gospel offers us hope in the form of three promises straight from the word of our Lord Jesus. First of all, our Lord says “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in him who sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death to life.” So if we hear Jesus’ words – not just hear them in the same sense that we hear the TV or the radio, but hear them so that we believe them, we will be given the gift of eternal life. And this believing that Jesus speaks of is not, of course, making a one-time decision to follow Christ. Rather, believing in the NT sense of the word, is a continual action; it is not something we just do once, but is instead something we do every day. We must continue in our belief and not turn away from our Lord. This is not easy; but if we will only do it, our Lord promises us eternal life.

Our beloved pastor, father, husband, brother, son, and friend Fr. Matthew was a man who believed in our Lord and his Gospel with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. And his belief issued forth not just in pious words, but in actions. Because of these, even though in one sense we would say that Fr Matthew has passed from life into death, in an even more real sense, what he has really done is pass from death to life—eternal life.

The second promise that we hear from our Lord in today’s Gospel is this: “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” And so, even though we will very soon be lowering our beloved Fr. Matthew’s precious body into the ground, this will not be the end of the story. For as Jesus goes on to say, “The hour is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” One day, as St. Paul tells us, “the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise.” So the grave where we will lay our beloved spiritual father will not be his final resting place. Fr. Matthew was a man who has done good. He was a man who most assuredly was “in Christ.” Because of this, we can have faith that one day, Fr. Matthew’s body, reunited with his soul, will “meet the Lord in the air. And thus [he will] always be with the Lord.” He will come forth to the resurrection of life.

But even as we have this hope, we still face the stark reality of death. What is it about death that makes even non-emotional people break down and weep? I have often heard death referred to as “The Great Equalizer,” and this is certainly true. All of us, no matter whether we are rich or poor, good or evil, Christian or non-Christian, have an appointment with death. And yet, the facet of death that makes it so hard to deal with is its being what I call “The Great Separator.” Perhaps the worst thing about death is that it separates us from those whom we love. When someone we loves dies, we lose the joy of being in their presence—seeing their face, hearing their voice, and feeling their embrace. And even if they seem to have died in Christ, there always remains that slight inkling of doubt: will I really ever see him or her again?

As I have been reflecting on my dear spiritual father’s sudden departure from this earthly life, I have been reminded of the story of the raising of Lazarus. As you know, this passage contains the shortest verse in the Bible, at least in the English version: “Jesus wept.” I often used to wonder exactly why Jesus wept. He did not weep for the same reason that all of us weep today. For the Lord knew that his separation from Lazarus would be very short-lived. He knew even before Lazarus died that He would raise him from the dead. So why, then, did he weep?

Many Bible commentators have suggested that Jesus wept out of compassion for Mary and Martha. To be sure, there is no question that this is part of why Jesus wept. He deeply loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and it was hard for him to see them experience a loss as great as that of their beloved brother, especially at a relatively young age. As the prophet Isaiah wrote of our Lord, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (53:4a, NKJV). And yet, I think that there is much more behind Jesus’ tears than merely compassion and empathy, great though they were.

I believe that the clue to Jesus’ tears lies in a verb that St. John uses in verses 33 and 38. This Greek verb is usually translated into English as “groaned in his spirit” or “was deeply moved in spirit”. Both of these translations give the impression that Jesus was moved solely by grief. However, as Fr. Lawrence Farley points out in his commentary on St. John’s Gospel,

“The Greek word…savors not of grief, but of anger. It is used for the snorting of horses in secular literature; in Mark 1:43 and Matthew 9:30, it is translated "sternly warn,” and in Mark 14:5, it is translated “scold.” In all of its uses, the word conveys the idea of indignation. Christ, therefore, was not here moved with grief over His friend; He was moved with anger at the Enemy, and indignation that all the Father’s world could be so ruined.”

So more than being moved by mere grief or compassion, our Lord was “furious at the ancient serpent for wreaking this havoc.” In his thirty-something years of life, Jesus had no doubt seen a great deal of death…but now he had had enough! He was not going to allow death and Hades to claim his beloved friend, at least not now.

And so, the Lord Jesus, fed up with the Great Separator, marches to the tomb as a conqueror, intent on denying Death yet another victim. And “looking on that blocked-up cave, He beheld not just the buried corpse of His friend, but the corpse of the whole world.” By raising Lazarus, Jesus gives the world a foretaste of the victory that he would win over death through his own death, resurrection, and ascension, as well as an anticipation and an image of the final resurrection from the dead.

So Jesus was angry. He was angry at death itself, and he was angry at the Evil One, who introduced death into the world when he tempted Adam and Eve to disobey God in the Garden of Eden. Today, I am angry too. I am sick and tired of death stealing away people that I love. In the last 8 years, I have lost my mother, my father, a niece, and know my spiritual father, mentor, and dear friend. I’ve had enough! I want nothing more to strike back at Satan. But how can I do this? How can we all do this?

Over the last 9 years, whenever I have had a spiritual question like this, Fr. Matthew was there to answer it. And I believe that if he were here today, he would answer my question like this: the best way to strike back at Satan is to pray. Keep praying. For prayer pushes back the darkness.

I believe Fr. Matthew would also say that if we want to strike back at Satan, we must not give in to despondency. Yes, we can and should grieve over our loss. But we must never lose hope. And we must continue the work that Fr. Matthew began here. We must continue to serve the Divine Liturgy. We must continue to share the Gospel in all its fullness with the world around us. We must continue to feed the poor and help the needy. And again, above all else, we must continue to pray.

Toward the end of his life, St. Paul wrote the following words to his beloved disciple Timothy: “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day,” If anyone could truthfully claim these words of St. Paul, it would be the Archpriest Matthew MacKay. So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, let us honor his memory by continuing this work that he began, until one day, we are reunited with him in the presence of our dear Lord Jesus Christ. Now unto him be all glory, honor, and praise, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.