Monday, February 28, 2005


I've just finished Runciman's "The Great Church in Captivity" and the final paragraph was perhaps the most unexpected, concise, and poignantly accurate summary of a book (and, in many ways, of Orthodoxy). Here goes:

The history of the Orthodox Patriarchate during the long captivity of the Great Church is lacking in heroic bravado. Its leaders were men who found it wise to avoid publicity and outward splendour and grand gestures. If they often indulged in intrigue and often in corruption, such is the inevitable fate of second-class citizens under a government in which intrigue and corruption flourish. The grand achievement of the Patriarchate was that in spite of humiliation and poverty and disdain the Church endured and endures as a great spiritual force. The Candlestick had been darkened and obscured, as the Englishman Peter Heylyn, who disliked the Greeks, noted in the early seventeenth century, but God had not taken it away. The light still burns, and burns brighter. The Gates of Hell have not prevailed.

Sunday, February 27, 2005


Two weeks from Great Lent means that next week is the first Saturday of the souls, where we remember and pray for those departed from this life. It is a time of reflection, prayer, and anticipation. I can't wait for my first Lent and Pascha here at the seminary.

Speaking of anticipation, the word may be spreading at my field education parish about the planned program of adult education. Perhaps, given this, the delay in distributing the questionnaire could be helpful.

In other news, I'm going to need to learn a fair amount of modern Greek between now and August. That will be interesting.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The little things in life

Are worth taking delight in. Today, in Dogmatics, Fr. Clapsis said that he noticed I put class notes on line. "You take very detailed notes, so I went back and checked to make sure I didn't say any heresies." For circumstance, delivery, and self-deprecatory humor, that goes to the top of my "favorite things professors have said in class" list.

In other news, the question has come up as to why I've put up class notes. Many reasons. First, because before coming here I very much wished I had some online resources that could be used as introduction for various parts of church life. I figured that, since these notes are, by and large, from introductory courses (each of these courses could become a life's worth of research and study), they might be useful. Second, I thought that if people read them, they may disagree with some of the things said and let me know. That would give me an opportunity to broaden my horizons/research the points of disagreement and see what I can gain by that. Third, when I couldn't attend class or couldn't register for a particular course, I relied on other people's electronic notes in order to learn what I was missing, so I thought this would be a way to provide others with the kind of help I received (I was told by a couple of people that they find these notes useful). There are several other less important reasons, but I hope these three main ones are enough for now.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Wednesday errata

In case you're wondering why my post from yesterday says "thursday", the answer is simple. The same reason on my NT test I read "four" instead of "five", thus answering one less question than the professor was expecting. I think I need to slow down a bit to give my brain a chance to cool off. Thankfully, spring break is less than two weeks away :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

thursday thoughts

I'm reading Steven Runciman's "The Great Church in Captivity." I've always enjoyed reading his books and this one is no exception. This, like his other books that I have read, is detailed without being overwhelming and he works at trying to present a balanced picture of each historical situation.

In other news, the playoffs are sort of a funny time to pick up your third win of the year (against about 14 losses), but it's sort of been a long time coming. We had been playing better and better and we finally put it together. If it's not apparent, I love team sports - especially when the people on the team are good friends and work at it until they become good together. It would have been fun even if we'd lost, but I'm glad we have at least one more game this year.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Various musings

I enjoy having random (and not so random) people comment on my entries - especially when it concerns seminary life, theology, Christian practice, because it forces me to articulate my thoughts in what I hope is a clear manner. Sometimes these sorts of encounters also make me take into account things I have not thought about before - a challenge perhaps, but a useful one.


I am trying to get in all the required reading for my classes this semester and it is proving quite the difficult task in terms of sheer volume of the assigned readings. On the other hand, I like the assigned materials and they raise up questions that can make for interesting discussions in both the real and virtual worlds. Currently, I have about 30 pages left in "Liturgy and Tradition: Theological Reflections of Alexander Schmemann." Hmmm... I just took another look through the list of readings for Liturgics. Unit six (out of nine) includes "Robert Taft, "A History of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (5 volumes)." I have a feeling I won't be able to do all the readings after all...


There is talk of taking the Church School students on a field trip to a Russian Orthodox Church for the Sunday of Orthodoxy. On the surface it sounds like a great idea, but I am not sure how much you can accomplish if you try to have everybody back within an hour - the drive itself (going and coming back) is likely to take up half that time. We'll see what happens when we talk about it in more concrete terms this Sunday.


Play-off time for both the league in which I play and the one in which I coach. Both teams backed into the play-offs rather badly. In the first league we lost our last three games by 3, 2, and 8. On the bright side both Niko and I played well in our last game and we were missing a couple of players. In the second league we again lost our last three games, in this case rather badly. On the hopeful side, perhaps our players will come to the games for the playoffs. Regardless of what happens, though, it's been fun playing basketball with a clock and a scoreboard again and I've certainly learned a lot out of the coaching experience.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

This post is my wife's fault

I was wandering along the web, reading blogs, and I ran into an interview game here. I looked at the first question and the answer popped immediately into my head. I told my wife and she said I had to blog it. Thus, question:

If you were a chess piece, which one would you be and why?


A pawn. Because you start out as fairly insignificant, but through hard work you can become anything you want (except king).

In other news, the people at the parish have decided to delay the survey until the beginning of March. Keep praying for us - the ones trying to get the program going and those for whom the program is intended.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Stutter step

Well, we put together a questionnaire to be distributed on Sunday at church, trying to see what topics the adults in the parish would be interested in exploring. Unfortunately the process of handing down the questionnaire from us to the person in charge of printing the bulletin hit a snag along the way. Thus, right now, no one there is aware that there should be an additional insert in the bulletin, which means, most likely, a one week delay. Mmmm... patience....

Sunday, February 06, 2005


Today at St. Vasilios we had a Church School teachers' meeting. I was hoping to get a word in about attendance, but I didn't have to. The topic was touched upon during the general discussion, so the three of us seminarians just took the ball and ran with it. This is probably, for each of us, the first opportunity to try and put into application some of what we have been taught here.

Long story short, Church school students do not come to either Liturgy or Church school by themselves. Thus, in order to improve attendance, we need to get their parents interested as well. So the three of us are preparing a questionnaire to try and gauge the interest of the parents in various activities/religious topics. The reason we are here is that as soon as the discussion started, there was a consensus that the Church school and the parish of St. Vasilios needed to do something and the means were there, by which to attempt doing that something. So we - seminarians and St. Vasilios Church school teachers/administrators - are taking the first steps. May God guide these steps; please pray for us.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


I keep wondering whether it is possible to structure a seminary education in an efficient/effective way. It seems that there is so much to cram in - regardless of whether your end goal is to "produce theologians" or "produce priests" or "produce parish administrators". Right now my mild frustration stems from the fact that, seeing the current state of affairs, I feel like I want to get out there at this point in time to try and improve things.

Yes, I know there are many things to be said about that statement. One is that I should have patience. Another is that it is quite presumptuous of me to think I could improve things. My answers to those things are: 1. I know I need to be patient. There are still many things I can learn over the next couple of years which will put me in a better position to help once I leave Holy Cross. 2. I can only hope and pray that I can make a positive impact (however small) on this world.

That having been said, it is still somewhat frustrating that most of my energy is spent towards classes. I guess the old engineer in me sees a problem and keeps saying: "try to find a solution." For now I guess I'll settle for trying to find a solution to the Church School problem previously mentioned.

P.S. Following Seraphim's comment about the pinkness of my blog and having given up on modifying the previous template - too many css sections to wade through to make all the changes I wanted - I've chosen to go with a simpler color scheme.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


A while back I had a bit of time, so I decided to translate a couple of articles I found interesting from Romanian into English. The results have been posted on my wiki. Comments (on the articles' content, the translations, etc.) are, as always, welcome.