Archive for July, 2010

Towards Success (Failure is OK) – Father Gregory

From the Blog Antioch Abouna, Father Gregory Stockport gives a message we need to hear.

Not every is going to be the gold medal winner.  One in a million, thats it.  When we are young, we dream of what we will attain, and later in life, we realize we have fallen short. And in our life with God, St. Paul writes, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3) Here is Father Gregory’s message:

God has granted the human race multiple intelligences; each of us (aside from those who are profoundly disabled, who neverthless are fully human) is relatively better at certain ones, worse at others.

We each have strengths and shortcomings. Some shortcomings are the result of an injury or a genetic malady, and, being more obvious, are classified as a disability.

And because of such limitations we may fall short of our own expectations, or those of others who are important to us.  And we all fall short of what God intended for us to be, before Adam and Eve chose to go their own way, apart from God.

But in Christ, as Father Gregory says,

When failure seems to have the last word, success is actually just round the corner.

Embrace failure and learn how to improve next time round. Success is truly built on failure.


Mental Illness and the Soul

Dr. Marina Busigina, a Russian Orthodox psychiatrist, is interviewed concerning her work of love with people who have mental illnesses. She speaks concerning the development of trust, of calming fearful patients, of how laypeople can responding lovingly to persons with mental illness, of situations of psychosis and/or demonic possession, and many other practical matters in regard to coping with mental illness and relating to persons with mental illness.

And she prays “Let God arise . . .,” at times, “when people are very distressed.”

To access, click on:


originally from

Fr. Jon Braun: “Strength Made Perfect in Weakness”

Fr. John Braun gives a fervent sermon, tying together the epistle reading in which St. Paul declares, “When I am weak, then I am made strong” with the gospel reading on Lazarus and the rich man. Fr. Jon comments on Lazarus’ double weakness, his poverty and his affliction (disability). He proceeds to exhort his congregation to handle their various difficulties with this attitude of victorious faith. From the website Prudence True: here is the audio sermon:


Fr. Jon Braun was one of the central EOC (Evangelical Orthodox Church) bishops who led 2000 Protestant Evangelical Christians into the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese in 1987. He continues as an archpriest in the Antiochian jurisdiction.

Here is Fr. Jon’s Finding the New Testament Church which chronicles this rediscovery of the historic Church:

Fr. Peter Gilquist’s book Becoming Orthodox also chronicles this community’s journey- the narrative and the issues.  This book was integral to my journey from Protestantism to the Orthodox Church. For this book and other works by Fr. Peter, see 

Here is one parish’s short version of the story:

And here is an Antiochian Orthodox Christian Retrospective on the EOC Reception into the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese their contributions to the Archdiocese by Father Peter Gilquist:

a Hymn of Paradise

by St. Ephrem the Syrian

from St. Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns on    Paradise, Intro. & trans. by Sebastian Brock, St.  Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 1990.

If I may be forgiven, here is one stanza, pertaining to our subject, from Hymn 7, Stanza 13, P. 123 in the book:

In Paradise the cripples,

who had never walked, leap around;

the deformed, who had never even crawled,

fly about throught he air;

the eyes of the blind and deaf,

who had yearned from the womb,

hungering for light

which they had failed to see,

now rejoice to behold

the beauty of Paradise,

and the mighty sound of its harps

gives comfort to their ears.

the entire book, online:

Forgive the politically incorrect terms; St. Ephrem employed the terminology of his day. (Of course, the terms below are all translated from Fourth Century Syrian, so then it is to Dr. Sebastian Brock, Fellow of Wolfson College and the British Academy, that we must address our requests for more polite terms.)

Of course substituting “persons with various disabilities” for “cripple” would ruin the poetic form. And is it the task of a translator to correct a poet? Poetry comes alive with vivid images, not with cumbersome phrases designed to avoid offense.

“Cursed is he who hangs on a tree.” (Deuteronomy 21:23) As Christ became an offense for us, let us with patience bear offenses, whether small or not,  with Him. Is it not a joy to walk with Him, through suffering as well as victory?

Icon from

Global and U.S. Orthodox Christian Social Action Networks

When I began this weblog I lamented the fact that I could not find (as far as I could see, searching online) any networks uniting Orthodox Christians in coordinated social action, in which our collective expertise and resources could be pooled together to increase the effectiveness of our efforts. I found no web pages where I could find resources on disability, for instance. With  the encouragement of Fr. Ted Pulcini, and the blessing of His Grace Bishop Thomas, I created this blog as a way to begin filling that gap.

But since then I have found that the Church has been addressing this matter. Praise the Lord, His Church is on the move! Take a look:

Orthodox Diaconia

Focus North America: Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve

I for one am greatly encouraged by these initiatives.

Al- Kafaat founder Mr. Nadim Shwayr

Chef Ramzi

Mr. Nadim Shwayr received the Antonian Gold Medal from His Eminence Metropolitan Philip on May 24, 2010 in New York. Here is the URL of the account of the occasion from the North American Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese Website:

And here is Al-Kafaat’s website:

“Al-Kafaat” is the Arabic word for “abilities.”

Chef Ramzi is a famous Lebanese cook, who prepared the dinner for the occasion. He is Mr. Nadim Shwayr’s son. He directs the catering school at Al-Kafaat.

He is also in the Guiness Book of World Records for preparing (he and his students) the largest serving of falafel ever!

The largest serving of hummus, too, on the largest ceramic plate!

More on Chef Ramzi:

He who honors the son honors the father who raised him.

Picture from

from the United Spinal Association: Disability Etiquette

This is a manual on disability etiquette, concerning many various kinds of diabilities people we meet may have and how to be kind and courteous to them. Sometimes, a person, feeling awkward in the presence of a situation he has never encountered, can say, often inadvertantly, some very clumsy and hurtful things. This easy-to-read manual can help us to orient ourselves to loving persons with disabilities:


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