Archive for October, 2007

IOCC in Montenegro

Rebecca Rainey was a 2007 summer intern for the International Orthodox Christian Charities. Among other things, she “was a contributing member of the focus groups which drafted the first ever National Strategy for persons living with disabilities. The Strategy will likely be adopted into law next year. This is a crucial step for those living with disabilities to be able to protect and defend their rights and to develop including opening up access to public offices, education and employment opportunities. This initiative will also help Montenegro in its bid to join the European Union.”

Not a typical summer internship, I must say!

For the rest of the story: http://www.iocc.org/getinvolved_internrebecca.aspx

the Jesus prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. (or Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, etc.; no rules against variation) Here are two accounts of persons with disabilities practicing the Jesus Prayer:

from the Very Reverend John Breck: On Silence and Stillness http://oca.org/reflections/fr.-john-breck/on-silence-and-stillness

Also Witnesses to Silence and Stillness http://oca.org/reflections/fr.-john-breck/witnesses-to-silence-and-stillness 

“Most of us are familiar with the 19th century account entitled “The Way of a Pilgrim,” & “The Pilgrim Continues His Way.” Here an anonymous Russian pilgrim, physically handicapped and with only the most rudimentary education, undertakes a voyage of the heart that will lead him step by step toward the heavenly Jerusalem. His journey is marked by numerous encounters with all sorts of people, several of whom initiate him into the practice of the Jesus Prayer. In the Church’s ascetic tradition, that prayer is progressively purified, becoming, in rare and privileged cases, “pure prayer” (kathera proseuchê) or “prayer of the heart.” As many within that tradition have described it, repetition of the name of Jesus begins with the lips, gradually passes to the mind in a spontaneous outpouring, and finally descends with the mind into the heart, the spiritual center of our being. The hesychast tradition therefore invites us to “stand before God with the mind in the heart,” to offer Him intercession, thanksgiving, praise and glorification day and night, without ceasing.” . . . .

Also, from Beliefnet: Therapy in Christ, message 4 of 8: http://www.beliefnet.com/study_groups/studygroup_message_list.asp?studyGroupID=2580&discussionID=118058

  JoyfulJudy
2/2/2002 1:10 AM
4 out of 8
Boy can I empathize with you! I’m disabled at 55 but recovering more and more each day as I practice having a thankful heart. And I, too, find the very best rest and therapy in Jesus, imagining myself being carried like a little lamb close to His chest and listening to His heartbeat. And I’ve been through situations that are just horrendous, so we WONT describe them. Still, I remember that text that says the a spirit of fear doesn’t come from God but of boldness (I forget now, darn it) and it ends with a SOUND MIND. And I thank God for these things. And I thank Him for leading me and loving me and guiding me. And I try to Practice His Presence like Brother Lawrence all day and all night long wherever I go, wherever I am. Yes, I try to submit to His will in every situation and be His loving presence to those around me even if I don’t say one word about Him to them. And if I think of myself as someone He can use when maybe He doesn’t have too many others to use, I don’t care so much whether I look foolish or wise to the other people. I’m just glad He used me to do something for Him.And there’s one pearl of great price that has helped me to do this more consistently than anything else so I will share it with you. Yes, I’ll offer the most priceless pearl I’ve found in the 33 years since I converted to the Eastern Orthodox Church because I believed in the Spirit that I had found a viable link, the real successor to the churches that formed around the Apostles right after Pentecost and under St. Paul during his missionary trips.This pearl is the Jesus Prayer after the saying of Blind Bartimaeus who cried out “Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me.” And the version used for centuries is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Repeating this prayer in the morning and trying to remember HIM all day long changes the day and changes me.” It reminds me that He’s always with me.
It allows me to murmur His Holy Name in the depths of my being like the Name of my Spouse as I’m dreaming of Him or caressing Him. And it enflames my soul with love for Him. (What more could I ask?)Then this love transforms me, because He is the only one who loves. I will always be learning and desiring to learn because He first loved me. This is the only way I know to increase my desire to submit all that I am and have to Him, My Beloved, My Savior, My Yeshua, My Jesus, My Christ, My King, My Lord and My God.For a more complete explanation of this prayer go to
http://www.svots.edu/Faculty/Albert-Rossi/Articles/Saying-the-Jesus-Prayer.html
Respectfully submitted,
judy, the wounded sinner who’s so in love with Jesus
The Jesus prayer does not require an extra measure of intelligence to be practiced effectively; in fact, living “in the head,” it is said, is a hindrance to acquiring the prayer of the heart, our goal. Most people with developmental disability could apply themselves to this practice profitably, “sowing to the Spirit,” as St. Paul says in chapter 6 of his letter to the Galatians. In fact, I would be interested in hearing stories along that line. Please comment!

ROOF’s goals

In that there been no educational efforts in Russia’s orphanages, the Russian Orphan Opportunity Fund sought to begin an effort. In their own words:

Since 1997, ROOF has been a pioneer in providing high-quality educational opportunities for children and young adults from Russian orphanages. Our aim is to help each child or young adult by providing opportunities and encouragement to learn and grow; to take advantage of their own talents and gifts and make the most of them, working to overcome the disadvantages of their past and become more fully themselves. Pure and undefiled religion is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:27) Sergei at workAt ROOF, we aim to achieve our goal through relationship. We do not expect to come up with a perfect system which is going to mould our students to what society wants them to be. Instead, through the relationships that build up between each student with his or her teachers and other staff and volunteers at ROOF, we aim to help that student learn and grow. This is why the specifics of our programmes vary from orphanage to orphanage, and why we aim to work out a specific programme for each student in our Post-Orphanage Education Centre. Our Abilitation Centre in Porkhov is so called because we are not convinced by the concept of ‘Social Adaptation’ – we do not aim to conform our students to society, but to enable them to live in the world because they have found an understanding of what the world is about and they have grown into the confidence and maturity to find their own place in it. Above all, at ROOF we strongly believe that people can change and can be changed. We believe that we are all in the process of ‘becoming’ every moment of our lives and our decisions, actions and relationships constantly contribute to determining what we are in the process of becoming.Fr Alexander Schmemann wrote, “When Christ comes to judge us, what will be the criterion of His judgement? … love – concrete and personal love for the human person, any human person, that God makes me encounter in my life. … be it only for a few moments, … Christian love … is itself a ray, a manifestation of the Kingdom of God; it … overcomes all limitations, all ‘conditions’ of this world because its motivations as well as its goals and consummation is in God. … The only lasting and transforming victories are those of love. To remind man of this personal love and vocation, to fill the sinful world with this love – this is the true mission of the Church.” This is how we think of our mission at ROOF.Here is their original project proposal, their educational plan: http://www.roofnet.org/pages/page.php?ref=projects%7Cbaranovo%7Coriginal%20proposal

Then there is the Post-orphanage educational center, where students learn “. . .

  • Individual choice and responsibility. Curators guide students to define their own goals and ‘Individual Plans’ then students are guided through the process of meeting these goals.
  • Respect. At the Centre, students learn through example to Education Center students and teachersrespect themselves and to show respect in their relationships with others.
  • Hope. We give students a hope that they can succeed. We believe there is no such thing as an ‘unteachable’ pupil. “

They also developed abilitation programs and an Abilitation Center, a halfway house between the orphanage and life in Russian society, where they could begin to demonstrate their ability to function outside of an institution. Or to quote the website: “an alternative to transfer to an adult institution for graduates of the Belskoye-Ustye internat.http://www.roofnet.org/pages/page.php?ref=projects%7Cabilitation%20centre

This effort went hand in hand with The ‘Chance to Work’ Project which “ is dedicated to overturning society’s stereotypes and prejudiced attitudes to graduates from orphanages and to integrating them into society as members of the same, capable of work and of providing a benefit. The purpose of the “Chance to Work” programme is the social adaptation (rehabilitation) of graduates of orphanages and homes, to provide them with the opportunity to work normally and develop, including to continue their education, which coincides perfectly with the aims of the Post-Orphanages Education Centre and ROOF.” http://www.roofnet.org/pages/page.php?ref=projects|work%20experience|chance%20to%20work

Here is how one student, Slava Muretov, having found employment while continuing his education, describes his situation: http://www.roofnet.org/pages/page.php?ref=projects|work%20experience|students

And here is a newspaper account of the effort, written at the 5 year celebration of this non-government educational program, translated by “Simon,” who, after graduating from Oxford University, headed to Russia to volunteer at Bel’skoye-Ustye Orphanage with ROOF: http://www.roofnet.org/pages/page.php?ref=projects%7Cbaranovo%7Cpress%20coverage&print_friendly

ROOF’sOrthodoxChristianleaders

Prayer is the beginning of all good things, all fruitfulness. The charitable organization Russian Orphans Opportunity Fund, for instance, begins its efforts at educating Russian orphans with prayer, http://www.roofnet.org/pages/newsdetail.php?recordID=5 especially in their strategic planning sessions: http://www.roofnet.org/pages/newsdetail.php?recordID=99 (annual general meeting) http://www.roofnet.org/pages/newsdetail.php?recordID=101 (Baranovo Retreat)

ROOF’s patron saint is St. Catherine the Great Martyr. http://www.roofnet.org/pages/page.php?ref=about|ROOF%20in%20detail|patron%20saint

Their leadership includes clergy and Orthodox Christians: Fr. Peter Kolomeytsen, chaplain and ethics teacher at ROOF’s post-orphanage education center: http://www.roofnet.org/pages/about_staffdetail.php?id=18 Fr. Stephen Pratt, United Kingdom board of trustees member: http://www.roofnet.org/pages/about_staffdetail.php?id=56 Andrew Williams, chairman of the United Kingdom Board of trustees: http://www.roofnet.org/pages/about_staffdetail.php and Georgia J. Williams, chairman of the United States Board of ROOF http://www.roofnet.org/pages/about_staffdetail.php?id=2

The orphans they seek to educate and integrate out of grim institutional settings into Russian society include numerous persons with disabilities, especially at their orphanage in Belskoye-Ustye. http://www.roofnet.org/pages/page.php?ref=projects|orphanages|belskoye%20ustye Unfortunately, funds are lacking. Consider supporting them.

Orthodox Hospitallers

Precisely, THE ORDER OF ORTHODOX HOSPITALLERS

Apparently this Order goes back to the year 590. Here are their aims:

(1) FOR THE RELIEF OF POVERTY, HUMAN SUFFERING AND DISTRESS THROUGH A DIACONAL MINISTRY OF SERVICE BY THE WORKS OF MERCY, AS COMMANDED BY THE GOSPEL (MATTHEW 25, 31-46; JAMES 1, 27) AND PROMULGATED BY ST BASIL THE GREAT OF CAESAREA AND ST JOHN THE ALMSGIVER OF ALEXANDRIA; ESPECIALLY THE RELIEF OF SICKNESS AND THE PROVISION MAINTENANCE AND IMPROVEMENT OF HOSPITALS AND LIKE INSTITUTIONS, AND THE RELIEF OF AGED, BLIND, DEAF OR OTHERWISE DISABLED PEOPLE IN THIS JURISDICTION AND PARTICULARLY IN ORTHODOX LANDS OR LANDS WHERE THERE IS A NECESSITOUS ORTHODOX COMMUNITY (2) THE ADVANCEMENT OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION AND ESPECIALLY THAT FORM OF THE SAME WHICH IS UPHELD BY THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE AND THE ORTHODOX CHURCHES IN COMMUNION WITH HIM (3) THE ADVANCEMENT OF EDUCATION UNDER THE AEGIS OF CHRISTIAN RELIGION AS AFORESAID (4) SUCH CHARITABLE PURPOSES GENERALLY BENEFICIAL TO THE COMMUNITY AS THE TRUSTEES IN THEIR ABSOLUTE DISCRETION SHALL THINK FIT, “FOR THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE GOOD OF MANKIND” AS THE MOTTO OF THE ORDER REQUIRES AND PROCLAIMS

Frankly, they are a bit mysterious. There are chapters in Greece, Cyprus, Russia: http://orderstjohn.org/rgp/gpr.htm

and the United Kingdom:  http://orderstjohn.org/osj/osj2.htm

The history is fascinating:

Historical Background The Order of the Orthodox Hospitallers (Deputati) is an historic, International, Indepentend, Legitimate and self governed Panorthodox Order, honored in the name of St. John the Baptist. It was founded by the Byzantine Emperor Mauricius (582 – 602 a.D.) as a military, nursing Order of Knights (Kavallarii) and as an Imperial Class of dignitaries, High rank Officers (Scribons) of the Imperial Excubitors. Their goal was – according to the Emperor Leo VI the Wise – to carry out confidential duties, to follow and guard the Emperor, to save and nurse the wounded of war, the refugees and the sufferers.

The Depotati – Hospitallers as a secular class were Noblemen of the Palatine Glass and as an Ecclesiastical Class were Lords Officials of the Church.

The Class in compliance to its Institutions survived the fall of the Byzantine Empire without any interruption in the framework of the ecclesiastical practice, in the practices of the enslaved Nation to the Ottomans, and those of the free Orthodox Nations as well.

In these areas it worked in the social, the spiritual and the military sector struggling against the conquerors and the prevention of Orthodoxy.

The Byzantine Chivalry, expressed in the person of St. George,( Patron Saint of the Byzantine Army ) served as model for the Christian Chivalry and Orders.

The Order in its contemporary form as a Secular and Religious Order was consecrated, according to the tradition and the Internationally accepted standards, in the year 1972 by the late Ethnarch, Archbishop and President of the Republic of Cyprus Macarios III., as a non State but as an International, Independent Sovereign and Panorthodox Order

Having been instituted by a ruling Head of State who was also Head of the Orthodox Church in the country of foundation, is legitimately qualify under the prerequisites of International Law to be recognized as a lawful Order of Chivalry.

It is significant the participation in the consecrating and administrating procedure of the Order, of H.I.H. the Prince Dimitri Alexandrovich of Russia (Romanoff), Baron Sergei von Bennigsen and other Russian Noblemen, and hereditary Commanders of the Orthodox Grand Priory of Russia of the Order of St. John and the Byzantine Imperial House of Laskaris – Comnenos.

The Order was accredited – according to the traditions – and honored with the secular protection and patronage of Heads of States, International Organizations and with the canonical Benediction and spiritual patronage of Orthodox Patriarchs and Prelates.

The Order as a Sovereign and International entity is governed by the provisions of the International Law.

 


ADMINISTRATION The Order and the Brotherhood function upon a Constitution which defines the functioning of the administrative units and their Organs. The highest authority of the Order consists of 3 Grand Lords, the one of whom – the Lord Grand Prior – governs together with the 4 member Grand Council through the Executive Body and other Organs of the Order.

Spiritual and Sacramental rights are carried out by the Orthodox Hierachs and Priests of the Brotherhood.

 


The Order has a great activity and presence in the Society, through its Dependencies, Institutions and representatives, that exist in many countries of Western and Eastern Europe, as well as in North and South America, Africa and Middle East.
The main Institution of the Order is :

THE “INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL SOCIAL AFFAIRS” The Institute of International Social Affairs (I.I.S.A.) is a Non Governmental Organization of International Cooperation, witch was founded in Greece as a Non Profit Civil Organization, with the initiative of the Orthodox Hospitallers. Has began its activities in 1986 in Africa with the implementation of development programs. The illiteracy, the misery, the diseases, the death and the disdain of the dignity of human life, were daily images in the life of the founding members who were present in Africa for several years. Each one of the founding members and all together the Orthodox Hospitallers, wanted to stop being just observers and were organized to offer solidarity and cooperation for the development of the less privileged fellow-men and societies. After nine years of continuous productive presence AIMS in Africa, the International developments have directed the Institute in the expansion of its activities as well to the East European Countries, which are facing the same Africa; s problems, of wars, collisions, hunger, hunger, health and development.

They seem to be a genuine resource for those in dire need. Here’s another article on the order:

http://orderstjohn.org/sjcross/ooh1.htm

Whatever association the Hospitallers have with the Crusades, which were are not seen as a inspired effort by the Orthodox Church, but rather as a dark chapter of Christian history, largely because of the sack of Constantinople in 1204, can now- it would seem- be put in parentheses in light of their enduring purpose: benevolence. Here is a truly cavernous website on the order (with music): http://orderstjohn.org/osj/osj.htm

St. Seraphim of Sarov’s priorities

St. Seraphim of Sarov made a friend wait all day. In the paragraph from Valentine Zander‘s book “St. Seraphim of Sarov,” accessed by means of the long web address listed below, he tells why. (Note- Beginning with “On another day …” scroll down, reading the whole paragraph.)

http://books.google.com/books?id=XvtVjrQjlakC&pg=PA59&lpg=PA59&dq=(disabled%7Chandicapped%7Cdisability)+%22the+jesus+prayer%22+-submissive+-browser&source=web&ots=X-C-Ly01I8&sig=bVw3E5j9OUM0EfqIr69OMPyU2lQ#PPA59,M1

St. SeraphimSt. Seraphim was Christlike. For just as Christ, in His parable on the great supper, when the invited guests didn’t show up, directed invitations to be issued to people with disabilities and troubles first, St. Seraphim does likewise. (St. Luke 14:16-24)

Icon from http://3saints.com/

Kontakion of St. Seraphim, Tone 2 

“Having left the beauty of the world and what is corrupt in it, O saint, thou didst settle in Sarov Monastery.  And having lived there an angelic life, thou wast for many the way to salvation.  Wherefore Christ has glorified thee, O Father Seraphim, and has enriched thee with the gift of healing and miracles. And so we cry to thee: Rejoice, O Seraphim, our righteous Father.” http://www.antiochian.org/saint_seraphim

Love is the foundation

from the Russian Orphans Opportunity Fund website: an excerpt from Great Lent, by Fr Alexander Schmemann:

Love is … the foundation, the very life of the Church which is, in the words of St Ignatius of Antioch, the ‘unity of faith and love’. … [Look at] Christ’s parable of the Last Judgement (Matt. 25:31-46). When Christ comes to judge us, what will be the criterion of His judgement? The parable answers: love – not a mere humanitarian concern for abstract justice and the anonymous ‘poor’, but concrete and personal love for the human person, any human person, that God makes me encounter in my life.

for the rest, click this web address: http://www.roofnet.org/pages/page.php?ref=about%7CROOF%20at%20a%20glance%7Cschmemann


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