Archive for March, 2011

A recent miracle of Saint John of Rila, by Melissa Bushunow

St. John of Rila 946

is the patron Saint of Bulgaria. He was the first acclaimed “athlete of prayer” from this land (though he fled acclaim). When he began to be eagerly sought after by many on account of the miracles the Lord performed through him, he fled to solitary places in order to escape pride and vainglory and to devote himself to prayer. He lived in caves in the Rila Mountains. For more on St. John of Rila:

The Life of St. John of Rila Repose of St. John of Rila 

His Feast day is August 18th.

Below, Melissa Bushunow recounts the miraculous results of her pleas to Saint John of Rila in regard to her little baby boy Symeon’s non-functional vocal chords. His intercessions to the Lord were wondrously effective! For the whole story: .

A Recent Miracle of St. John of Rila 

The source of the icon: My Country – Bulgaria 

Mark Pickup: “Quality of life is a moving target.”

from Frederica Matthewes-Green:

The original source of the work: Citizen, 2001.

Khorea Frederica is the wife of Father Gregory Matthewes-Green, Pastor (Priest) at Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church in Lithincum, Maryland:

(In the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Tradition, “Khorea” is the title of the Priest’s wife.)

Mark Pickup is a devout Roman Catholic who has advanced multiple sclerosis. In the article which can be accessed from the URL below Frederica shares his reflections on life with disability in contrast to the voluntary death (by euthanasia) that ignorant people assume he should prefer.

A couple notable quotations from the short piece below:

. . . “What gives my life quality today is not being able to run or swim or ski,” Mark says. “It’s being able to love and to be loved. To think that I am still making a contribution to the world, whether I am or not.  . . . .

“Too many Christians have bought into the idea that God is a Sugar Daddy. But the fact is that we are to fit into God’s will, not him into ours. If this is what it takes to burn the pride out of me, to make me more like him and less like me, then let it be. Or else I didn’t really mean what I said when I converted. Talk is cheap.

. . . What about divine healing? I have been healed. I have been forgiven. Before I was disabled I was able-bodied on the outside but I was crippled inside. Now I’m crippled on the outside but Christ abides with me on the inside.

“Today my life is richer, not in spite of the MS, but because of it.” . . .

Now there’s Christian maturity.

Here’s the essay:

And here’s Mark’s own website:

Orthodox Christian Family Mission

Vigen Guroian, in Ethics After Christendom: An Ecclesial Christian Ethic, writes “The Christian family . . . is an arena of ascetic combat with the demons of personal and public life, This askesis not only perfects individuals but deepens community.” (P. 146) He is saying that character development is primary, and that social function follows. As St. John Chrysostom says, “When we teach our children to be gentle, to be forgiving, to love . . . we reveal the image of God in them.” (P. 150) Guroian sees the Christian family as embattled and under attack from modern cultural “privatism, narcissism, and consumerism,” and cannot, in its own power, effect change in society. Only by means of the character development gained by ascetic struggle, in which its members are conformed to the likeness of Christ, can the Christian family be a light to the world. (P. 150)

Once Kingdom values have been established in the family, the divine value it places on its members with disabilities serves as a witness to a world that devalues them for their lack of apparent utility. Love lays aside “utility” as the ultimate measuring tool.

from “St. John Chrysostom and the Socialization of  Persons with Developmental Disability: Patristic Inspiration for Contemporary Application,” pp. 25-26.

To Access, click here: St John Chrysostom and the Socialization of Persons with …

St. Servulus †590


St. Servulus to the right

Yet another pre-schism western Saint counted as an intercessor for persons with disabilities, St. Servulus was disabled himself. He suffered paralysis from cerebral palsy;  it was said he could neither sit up nor feed himself. He would pass along alms he received to others. From the alms he did keep, he bought books on the Scriptures, and asked others to read to him. He also learned some hymns of praise and thanksgiving, and often sang them. His last words were, “Do you hear the great and beautiful music in heaven?”

He was from Rome. St. Gregory the Great spoke of him, and his virtues. (See the Glorious in His Saints source below) At his funeral, it was said that a sweet frangrance arose from his body.

Through the intercessions of St. Servulus, O Lord, have mercy on us.


An Orthodox Christian Source: 

St. Gregory Orthodox Church: St. Servulus of Rome (Feast Day- December 23)

Irondequoit Catholic (article by Father Robert F. McNamara)

Glorious in His Saints

Icon (a mosaic in the apse of the Cathedral Church inTrieste, Italy)- a photo posted by David Nice in I’ll Think Of Something Later

St. Servatius of Tongeren †384

St. Servatius

Another Pre-Schism Western Saint noted as an intercessor for persons with a disability:

St. Servatius was a fourth century champion of Nicene Christianity at a time when the Eastern Emperor Constantius II supported the Arian heresy. St. Servatius met with St. Athanasius the Great, who was in exile from Alexandria, in order to strategize as to how to address this threat. He testified to the Faith in the Councils of Cologne, Serdica, and Rimini, and before Constantius as well.

St. Servatius saw to the building of two Churches, one at Tongeren, and another at Maastricht, the latter of which survives. In addition to being the patron saint of Maastricht (in the Netherlands) he is also the patron saint of those with leg and foot problems (lameness).

I recently experienced foot problems. In December 2009 I went to a conference in New York City. Having taken a subway into the city, I decided to walk the four miles to where I was staying, so that I could see the city. Now I had lived in New York City from 1976-1978 when I was in my early twenties, and at that time had walked such distances regularly. But being older, my right foot reminded me for many months after the conference that I am not the same man I was in my early twenties. My chiropractor showed me an exercise to alleviate the condition, which is called Plantar Fascitis:

I still have some soreness, and do the exercise every day.

St. Servatius, pray for me.

Sources on St. Servatius: &

Icon from The pre-Schism Orthodox Saints who evangelized Western Europe & the Scandinavian lands in the section  HISTORICAL TOPICS on the website OODE– ORTHODOX OUTLET FOR DOGMATIC ENQUERIES


A Ministry in Russia

Life is harder in Russia than in America, materially. But Russia is an Orthodox Christian nation, traditionally at least, and that Tradition is continuing to revive after the Soviet era, which tested Orthodox Christian Russia to the limit, a limit which from a human standpoint did not seem to be “reasonably” endurable.

When I read Solzenhitsyn’s “The Gulag Archipelago” (Book 1) several years ago I could only read one chapter a week simply because I found it overwhelming. But our loving and faithful God alone knows our limits and our possibilities as peoples made in His image, called to shine forth in His likeness.

Here is an English translation of the website of the Russian ministry MERCY. They seek to serve those in need, including people with disabilities:

Here it is in the original Russian:

Kerry Patrick San Chirico’s “Lenten Transformation”

This is a four-part series from 2003.

In part three, concerning fasting and almsgiving, (with a focus on the latter) the author speaks about visiting Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, and was taken to a shelter for destitute men, some of whom were disabled. He was to bathe them by hand, and found the prospect intimidating. But he did it, prayerfully, and describes the nonverbal communication, especially the eye contact, he had with one young man. The feelings connected with his comfort zone in the situation were set aside as irrelevant, as trivial, in light of need for this service he had taken on.

He relates this encounter with Orthodox Christian lenten disciplines; its not about how we feel about it, its simply about leaning forward and doing it, and letting the deed transform our inner disposition.

As of last year, according to Princeton Theological Seminary’s Class Notes, the author is working on a doctoral dissertation; he is studying Christian-Hindu interaction and dialogue in India.


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