Archive for April, 2009

2 Orthodox Christian bloggers

(who happen to have disabilities)

I  have recently come across two more blogs by Orthodox Christians  with disabilities. The first one focuses not on life with disability but on the Orthodox Christian Faith,  It is by Leo Peter O’Filon, who is moving an existing blog, entitled Eastern Orthodox Chritianity http://eorthodox.blogspot.com/ to http://eorthodox.wordpress.com/about/, with a new title, Eastern Orthodox Christianity 2.0.

The second blog is by Matthew Brown, and is entitled Confessions of a Daily Christian. He posted five times, the last one 9 months ago. It is about his own personal pigrimage struggle. Here it is: http://soulfyresconfessions.blogspot.com/

I suspect that the lack of response may have led him to stop posting. Perhaps someone with a blogspot blog could encourage him by responding. From WordPress, I don’t seem to be able to leave a comment.

Ghana Mission baptism

St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas, seeking to build a church for a daughter congregation in Ghana, published an article entitled
Two Villages in Ghana Receive Baptism from the April 2004 “Messenger” (Originating From the Diocesan Press Office, Ghana, Africa)

It is simply the story of His Grace Bishop Panteleimon (later His Eminence Panteleimon, Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, now retired) coming to Brakwa, Ghana, to baptize a number of catechumens. It was a day of joy. The connection between His Eminence and the theme of Arms Open Wide may be gleaned from the story:
http://www.stgeorgecathedral.net/mission_update.html

Here is His Eminence’ Biography: http://www.orthodox-mitropolitan-of-antinoes-panteleimon.com/index.php?lang=en

Here is another story concerning His Eminence: A Contemporary Miracle: The Healing of Bishop Panteleimon http://www.orthodox-mitropolitan-of-antinoes-panteleimon.com/books/en/The%20healing%20of%20Bishop%20Panteleimon%20en.pdf

Also- a history and a more recent news story in regard to the Orthodox Church of Ghana:

A Brief History of the Orthodox Church in Ghana

http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/church_history/anderson_ghana.htm

OCMC Recognized by the Orthodox Church in Ghana

http://orthodoxchristianmissioncenter.wordpress.com/2008/08/14/ocmc-recognized-by-the-orthodox-church-in-ghana/

OCMC Team to Ghana Lives Orthodox History http://www.goarch.org/news/goa.news956

It isn’t clear if the parish of St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral’s goal of building a church in Ghana was realized, but they have supported and continue to support mission priests, including Father Samuel Akuma in Brakwa, Ghana and Father Gerasimos in Bukoba, Tanzania through the Orthodox Christian Mission Center’s SAMP (support a mission priest) program: http://www.ocmc.org/programs/samp.aspx

Truly He is risen!


the harrowing of Hell

the harrowing of Hell

“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb shall speak clearly. (Isaiah 35:5-6a) . . . . “for you who fear my name the Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings, You shall go forth leaping as little calves released from their bonds.” (Malachi 3:20)

“Icons courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission”

The Orthodox Church has now entered into the Paschal Season, in which we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, as well as our own, for Christ’s resurrection brings for us our resurrection. Our Lord has defeated death by death. As He arose with a transformed body which could both eat fish and enter through closed doors, we will one day rise with new bodies, able bodies, able beyond our present ability to conceive. Glory to Thee, our God, Glory to Thee! Quotations from The Orthodox Study Bible: http://www.orthodoxstudybible.com/

experiencing the Mystery

(versus simply thinking about Him)

veneration

veneration

Even if persons with developmental disability lack the potential to ever reason abstractly, their experience of the Mysteries (the Sacraments) can be just as rich as those who can reach that stage. For the Mysteries have Divine depth, and always beckon one forward to greater participation and fuller comprehension of their import. For the experience ultimately transcends conceptualization.

Fr. John Breck, in “Down Syndrome at Pascha,” in his book God With Us: Critical Issues in Christian Life and Faith, describes Marie, a woman who had Down Syndrome, at the Holy Friday service: (pp. 66-67)

She was entirely dressed in black. Her face was streaked   with tears, her head was bowed, and her arms hung down at her sides. As she approached the shroud, she slowly made the sign of the cross three times, prostrated herself before it, and for a moment kept her head to the floor. Then she rose, kissed the face and then the feet of Christ, and finally venerated the Bible and the Cross. “

Here’s a word from the publisher on the Fr. John’s book as well as the site through which one may order it: http://www.svspress.com/product_info.php?products_id=79

Marie’s heart was prepared for the worship of God and the honoring of the symbols which reveal Him. One who would seek to truly touch the hem of His garment with a pure heart in the same way would also need to prepare himself; this involves the devotion of time and effort, and more importantly, the gracious response of Him Who Is Love (A Fire!). To fully participate in the Mysteries of the Orthodox Church, see here: http://www.antiochian.org/node/16917 For more on the Orthodox Church, see also http://www.antiochian.org/node/16958

photo from http://stjohndfw.info/

reprinted from March 2008

“living with disability is its own ascesis”

(For an explanation of the word “ascesis” scroll to the end of this post)

This quotation is from a comment  to a post on the weblog Glory to God For All Things by Father Stephen Freeman entitled Fools For Christ- Remembering What Matters: http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2007/06/25/fools-for-christ-remembering-what-matters/
In response to this post, Father Mark said, on June 26, 2007 at 2:16 pm,

The motif of the “fool for Christ” is one that I’ve struggled to understand for quite some time. It’s become even more important in recent years as we’ve struggled to be parents to a child with autism and to show hospitality to other families with similar trials. In a way, living with disability (and in a household with a disabled child) is its own ascesis. I hope and pray that it is a way for us to know God.

I especially like the way Peter Bouteneff concludes his essay “What Kind of Fool am I?” in the festschrift for Bp KALLISTOS:

“Don’t be a iurodivy [fool], the Church says, but like him be a prophet. Be intellectually pure and humble. Be a person of prayer. Check your conformity, shun ideologies, and tell the truth.”

We deeply appreciate your truth-telling. Please remember us in your prayers.

Ascesis, from an outline of a Presentation on Being Christian in a Post-Christian World, by Herman Engelhardt:

A. Life as ascesis: seeking freedom from the passions and deceptions of the world
1. All of life is a struggle to turn from loving oneself with all one’s heart, soul, and mind to loving God with all one’s heart, soul, and mind, and one’s neighbor as oneself in the light of right-believing, right-worshipping love of God. Unholy love harms.
2. Any goodness that does not lead beyond itself to holiness is a false goodness.
3. The ascetic journey from oneself to God is, as the Greek ascesis indicates, not only an exercise, practice, and training, but an all-encompassing way of life.
4. Days and periods of fasting are times when the Church aids us to increase our efforts to turn fully to God through fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.
5. Yet, the secular world aims us in the opposite direction, from God to ourselves and the false goodness of self-satisfaction and self-indulgence. Consider the world displayed in television, movies, and popular music and its everyday acceptance of sinful lifestyles.
http://www.saintpeterorthodox.com/portals/2/speakers/engelhardt/engelhardt1.pdf

fools for Christ

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God, humbled Himself, and out of love for us He became flesh- a man- to make us divine sons of God, adopted in Christ by our heavenly Father.

Through our sin we disabled ourselves as Image-bearers of His glory, and He came to save us: to cleanse, pardon, and heal us, as we pray in the Trisagion prayers; to purify, illumine, and grant us eternal, divine Life, ever-increasing participation in the divine energies of the Holy, Consubstantial Trinity- Theosis- according to the teachings of our Holy Fathers, the Apostolic Tradition, and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, all one in the same.

Many of the Saints, restored to likeness to Christ, substantially healed spiritually, chose to represent themselves as insane- disabled in mental health- so that they could minister to those around them the Divine life and fullness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Consider these words of St. Paul, from his first letter to the Corinthians, chapters 1:18-25 & 4:8-13, to those, who like me,  have some knowledge, which we share, feeling we have accomplished something, (in Christ, of course) but in reality have a long way to go in achieving the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“ I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”[a]

20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks[b] foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  . . . .
8 You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us—and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you! 9 For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 dishonored! being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.

Passages from http://www.biblegateway.com/ NKJV

Here are some websites on Fools for Christ:

Holy Fools for Christ, on the website of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Billings, Montana: http://www.stnicholas-billings.org/Saints/HolyFools/holyfools.htm

Diveyevo’s Holy “Fools” http://www.roca.org/OA/105/105f.htm

Diveyevo and Sarov http://www.orthodox.net/russiannm/sarov-and-diveyevo-monastic-martyrs-and-confessors.html

The Life of the Blessed Xenia of St.Petersburg http://www.stvladimiraami.org/stxenia/StXeniaLife.shtml

Her humble life ‘in the world’ really touches me in my own disability.Leo Peter O’Filon, Disabled Neophye http://eorthodox.wordpress.com/2006/01/25/todays-saint-xenia-of-st-petersburg-russia/

encyclopedia article, by Svitlana Kobets: http://www.slavdom.com/index.php

A Mandate: Church Accessibility

from The Orthodox Christian News Service,  (Published by Ekathimerini.com) December 4, 2004-

More than two months after its revolutionary decision to conduct Bible readings in Modern Greek, the Church of Greece is now planning to start services in sign language, Archbishop Christodoulos announced.

The head of the highly conservative Greek Orthodox Church told a Archbishop Christodoulosdelegation of disabled people’s unions that a series of seminars on learning sign language was launched last year, and will be continued this year to enable clergymen to conduct services for deaf congregations.

The archbishop also said all parishes have been instructed to improve church accessibility for the disabled. “Wherever this is not yet the case, it is due to technical difficulties that we are trying to overcome as fast as possible,” he said.

In September, Athens churches started services in Modern Greek, for people unfamiliar with the original Ancient Greek texts. One also offers English services.

http://old.orthodoxnews.com/149/sign.htm

Also, from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website:

ACCESSIBILITY

If your church is not handicap accessible, portable temporary ramps may be rented or purchased. The parish council could consider a permanent ramp as a matter of policy. It is important to note that the Clergy-Laity Congress of 1982 in San Francisco accepted a recommendation in its General Assembly that parishes make every effort to become more accessible to people with disabilities.

 

http://www.goarch.org/archdiocese/departments/outreach/ministryprofiles/challenge

And again, The Accessible Church, by Fr. John  Matusiak of the Orthodox Church in America: http://www.oca.org/RHPrint.asp?ID=55

Note- Archbishop Christodoulos fell asleep in the Lord five days after the original post, on January 28, 2008. May his memory be eternal!

Reprinted, with additions,  from January 2008


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