Monday, February 27, 2006

Out of the mouths of babes...

One day last week the wife of a seminarian friend of mine came into chapel with their son (two or three years old) just as Vespers had ended. As he saw that they were late, tears came into his eyes and he said "But I want it to be church time." All of a sudden Jesus' words saying that we need to be like children made even more sense.

Monday, February 20, 2006

I just don't know

What the wife says: "Should I play fiddle, or should I put on another shirt?"

What the wife means: "I'm cold."

In another line of thought, I can't understand why NBC plays mostly tape-delayed material even when they are broadcasting at an hour at which there is live action (except for, it seems, hockey). I would watch more if I didn't know the results ahead of time (which, thanks to and their live audio, I do for all tape delayed material).

End of a topic

The semester is hectic as always, so I will finish rather more briefly than I had originally intended and, consequently, I may have to revisit this topic in the future to clarify a few things.
However, given the way this semester is going...

The Orthodox Church takes seriously the freedom of the Holy Spirit. We have the belief that the Spirit was present in the creation of the world, spoke through the prophets and continues to act through history. It is the Holy Spirit who is guiding the world (history) towards the final eschatological end. Because of this, I am not ready to say that the efforts that we are making towards recovering our original unity are entirely futile. However, it seems to me that they will not be successful either, until we realize our both our shortcomings and the Person in whom our shortcomings can be overcome. However, this is the responsibility of each person. More often than not the people in the places of authority are reflections of the people.

The above is part of the reason why becoming a priest is something that I pray for and eagerly await, while at the same time being something that I hold in awe. The priests are often the image of God for the parishioners - they need to reflect God as much as possible, including having a theological view of world events (again, trying to draw closer to God and see His reality), Otherwise, the faithful will not have examples for their formation as Christians living in today's world. I guess I'm beginning to understand (a little bit) why St. John Chrysostom gave so many reasons for not becoming a priest, yet, in the end, devoted his life to being one.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


I mentioned in the previous post that there is one true reality, God´s perspective. Our journey in life is, or should be, a journey towards unity in that perspective. Our separate, individual realities create separation and division, as we clearly see around us. It is no surprise that the devil, in Greek, means the one who divides. The devil´s work in this world is exactly that - to divide.

Humanity as a whole feels the effects of the division - our awkward efforts at overcoming it attest to this. The problem that I see - from my imperfect reality - is that our efforts are more often than not based on one of two precepts: that one particular imperfect reality should prevail, or that we should average our imperfect realities. This is, from my perspective, very similar to the original fall - a story that keeps repeating itself through history: we try to achieve our meaning, our vocation for unity (more about that in my class notes on Christ in the Old Testament) apart from God.

More to come...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Reality and realities

Communication is an interesting thing to study. Each person projects his own experience of the world into the words and gestures he uses. Unfortunately, this is quite often lost on the conversation partner, who instead projects his own experience of the world on the words and gestures he perceives. In a manner of speaking, each one of us lives in a unique reality, constructed by the physical reality present around us and the individual experience of that reality.

The existence of this 'individual' reality raises questions about the validity of each such reality. In a manner of speaking, each reality is indeed valid: each person has direct knowledge of 'his' reality only. However, because each such reality depends on personal experience, this reality is shaped by the prism of our fallen nature, which deforms true reality (godly, divine reality) into each personal reality. Since the personal reality is not absolute, it could easily be given another name (e.g., perception, understanding). However, this personal reality is often the only thing that a person can reference - for the person, it is reality. Therefore, I think the term 'personal reality' best describes the concept.

God sees into each of our hearts and knows our deepest secrets. We, on the other hand, can easily mis-attribute intentions to the people around us, because of our flawed perception of the world. In a similar vein we can misunderstand situations, words, events...

From the perspective of Orthodox theology, the concept of theosis relates directly to this differentiation between God's reality and our individual realities. As we draw closer to God, our viewpoint draw closer to His viewpoint; our personal reality becomes closer to the true reality. This brings me to what I believe to be the essence of communication.

On one hand there is the understanding that our own individual understandings of the world are flawed to a smaller or greater extent. This requires of us the humility and courage to be open to see our flaws and to change our understanding whenever we find such a flaw. On the other hand, this change can only take place by the grace of God; it needs a direct relationship with Him, in prayer and sacrament. It seems to me that this is the only way to correct our individual perspectives of life. At the same time, this also allows us to see (and understand) the realities that other people hold and interact with them, perhaps aiding them to draw closer to the true reality.

P.S. Speaking of different realities, here's mine (since several people have read too much into my previous post judging by e-mail and phone calls received - btw. Thank you all for the love and care you've shown): I had a long week and I got a little frustrated with how little I got done last week. In that context the frustration spilled over to the fact that we have long term loans to pay. I am not worried about how we're going to pay those loans. Magda has a good job and God's been gracious enough to provide more than we need. As I said in the post - the worries are unfounded.

Friday, February 03, 2006


The advice of St. Paul to pray unceasingly and the warnings of ascetical literature to always be on guard were given new meaning this week. I must admit to having relaxed somewhat in my vigilance, having gotten past the half-way point with my classes and with many of the more difficult classes already behind me. Of course, I should have known better.

My stay here isn't about classes (or it is very little about classes); it is, rather, about spiritual warfare. Granted, in theory I knew that; I needed this week, however, for that to become the type of knowledge that is more than theory. Between a minor inconvenience here, a couple of very busy days there, rather unfounded financial worries that kept coming back to my mind, and other minor nuisances, I had gotten to the point where I did not want to be in chapel for Liturgy for the Presentation of the Lord.

Thankfully, by the grace of God, I realized at that point that I needed to refocus on prayer. It was difficult and it still is - as some of my fellow seminarians like to remind themselves, seminaries are places where temptation always runs high. But I did make it to Liturgy yesterday and that made a big the difference.

It was a lesson hard learned, but thank God for it.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


And then they ask you for your phone number (for the fifth time) so they can get back to you, which they haven't done so far. Lord have mercy.