Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fr. James' Two Cents on Archbishop DMITRI

Archbishop DMITRI was helpful to me in first gaining an understanding of Orthodox Christianity.  When I was going through my missionary training course, preparing to go win the Serbs to Jesus ( :-) ), I naturally read as much as the library at our missionary training center had (which wasn't much).  But one thing they did have was a brief "Introduction to Orthodoxy" pamphlet that His Eminence had written.  I remember making a copy of the entire pamphlet and marking things I didn't agree with.  Later, when I was beginning to move toward Orthodoxy, I reread the pamphlet (with my marks still in it).  The second time I read it, I didn't disagree with anything....

+DMITRI's commentaries on the Parables and Miracles of Christ and of the epistle to the Hebrews and the Sermon on the Mount have also been a big help to me in preparing Bible studies over the last few years.

In 2003, when I was still a layman, I traveled to Dallas one weekend with Dn. Meletios Marx (also a layman at the time) to visit St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas.  Fortunately for us, Archbishop DMITRI was there.  It was the first time I had seen a non-Antiochian Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, and only about the second time I had seen any Hierarchical.  I was impressed.

After the service, during coffee hour, Vladika was sitting in the fellowship hall, totally surrounded by people who wanted to talk with him (as I'm sure was always the case when he was there).  Mel and I waited for the crowd to disperse a bit so that we could have a chance to meet the Archbishop.  The crowd did not comply, and it was getting to be time for us go; we had a fairly long trip ahead of us.  Mel suggested that we just go, and he started toward the door.  But I simply couldn't leave without meeting +DMITRI and receiving his blessing.  So I just (probably pretty rudely) marched right up to him and stood in front of him (he was seated with people all around him) until he looked up at me.  I introduced myself, told him how much his writings had helped me, and asked for his blessing. 

He would have been justified in sending me away, or at least saying "wait a minute"... but he didn't. He interrupted the conversation he was having, thanked me for coming to the church and for introducing myself and gave me his blessing.  I went away blessed indeed by this kind and accommodating archpastor of Christ's Church.

This morning, I listened to an interview with Fr. Stephen Freeman on the AFR podcast "Ancient Faith Presents".  The interview was about Archbishop DMITRI's life and legacy.  I had already known that he was a remarkable man, but as it turned out, I didn't know the half.  Did you know that +DMITRI was fluent in Japanese and that he had served in World War 2 as a translator on the staff of Gen. Douglas MacArthur? He was also fluent in Spanish and highly involved in ministry to both Mexican citizens and Latinos in the United States.  But you would never have known all this from being around this humble and unassuming man of God.

To listen to the interview yourself, click here.

May his memory be eternal!


Clint said...

You know, Archbishop Dmitri had such a major impact on so many lives. Not only did I have my brief personal contact, which was great, but he has been very influential to many Orthodox Christians that have influenced me. Except for God, who knows how many people have been indirectly influenced by this wonderful shepherd. All of Orthodoxy was blessed by him.

Fr. James Early said...

I am reminded of the story in which three men go to visit St. Anthony. Two of the three visitors ask him questions for hours, while the third never says a word. When St. Anthony asks the third man why he hasn't said anything, the man replies, "Father, it is enough just to be in your presence." With Archbishop DMITRI, likewise, it was enough just to be in his presence.

Dennis Justison said...

Archbishop DMITRI sounds like a truly wonderful and Godly man. It is amazing how people like him make others feel blessed when they don't even try. Hmmm....maybe that's the key! They don't have to try, they are like an electrical wire that allows the power to flow. People like Archbishop DMITRI are not just connected to God but surrendered to Him and the Divine flows without any effort at all.