Archive for July, 2011

St. Herve †556

                                                                                                                                                  St. Herve is an intercessor for those with visual impairments; he himself  was blind.. He was from Brittany, in France.

 Here are four sites which provide information on his life: (Source of image)


St. Panteleimon Orthodox Christian Outreach – Ancient Faith Presents… – Ancient Faith Radio

An Orthodox Christian visitation ministry in Ohio to people in nursing homes, group homes, independent living facilities, and other situations in which the folks cannot get to Church (psychiatric facilities, prisons, etc.).  Listen to the following 9 1/2 minute audio interview with their Executive Director Reader Gerald Largent as he explains their work:

  St. Panteleimon Orthodox Christian Outreach – Ancient Faith Presents… – Ancient Faith Radio.

Here is their Facebook page: 

Here is their website: 

UNICEF: Children and Disability in Romania; St. Dimitrie Program

St. Dimitrie

  While the analyses of secular research efforts will surely lack a spiritual dimension, our call as the Church to humility requires us to give a hearing to them; we already know that we are sinful, that we fall short, as individuals, as a people, before the Lord, who died for us to save and heal us from sin and its individual and corporate effects.  Now Romania is a traditionally Orthodox Christian country, though not all Romanians are Orthodox Christians. The long-term effects of the Communist era surely still contribute to social problems there,  and scarce resources complicate the implementation of some promising solutions.  Here is UNICEF’s 2002 (yes, its somewhat dated) 30 page report: 

The UNICEF report focuses on state (government) solutions to the dilemnas they found. Without discounting the need for the Romanian people as a whole to address their problems, the Church has divine resources which the state does not.

Most people with disabilities have families, thank God. And their prospects are effected by the health of the entire family. If the head of the household is unemployed or underemployed, this obvious effects all the members of the family; especially if this person becomes depressed and turns to addictive substances to escape the way he feels.

The Orthodox Christian Mission Center, in cooperation with the Romanian Orthodox Church, is addressing such concerns. The St. Dimitrie Program, begun in 2001 in the Romanian city of Cluj, addresses substance abuse and addiction, mainly alcoholism. Not only do they minister to those with these problems, they train counsellors to address the same problems all over Romania, in the neighboring country of Moldova, and even in Alaska, in the U.S.A.

Every Friday the St. Dimitrie Program in Cluj has a support group meeting at the pschiatric hospital in Borsa for patients who have had, at some point  in their lives, struggles with addiction to alcohol.

St. Dimitrie website: 

Their program at Borsa Psychaitric Hospital: 


Latest Newsletter:

Source of Icon:

Who was St. Dimitrie?


Incense is therapeutic, except . . .

  . . . for those who are allergic to it.  My godson’s wife is allergic to incense, and cannot participate in our worship services because of it.

Such situations calls for some creative adjustments. Our parish priest comes to their home and hears her confession and administers the awesome mystery of the divine Eucharist, Christ’s body and blood, to her, personally. She greatly misses worshipping  in Church, though.

Now I’m not suggesting that we stop using incense in our services, but if the bishops of the Greek Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America can give their blessings for special monthly liturgies for people with developmental disabilities, perhaps there could also  be special liturgies crafted for persons who cannot tolerate incense as well? Here’s the Challenge Liturgy Website:  

I did talk by phone to the priest at this Church and incense has not been an issue for them.

Perhaps incense-free services- even occasional ones- would cross a line. I don’t know. One could not have Orthodox worship without icons- this has been spelled out in the seventh ecumenical council- but I’m not aware of similar Church canons concerning the use of incense.

Icons visually demonstrate that Christ was truly incarnate in the flesh. Since our Church proclaims the fullness of the Faith, our worship is correspondingly full, involving all five senses- hearing, sight, taste, touch, and smell. “O taste and see that the Lord is good!”  This is normative.

But as St. Paul says, “to the weak I became weak . . .”

Christ’s saying, “The Sabbath is for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” also comes to mind, but the analogy falls short, for Divine Liturgy may be for man from God’s standpoint, but from our standpoint, the Divine Liturgy- the Eucharist (which means “thanksgiving”) – is directed toward God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And the heavenly worship described in the book of Revelation does involve incense.

Here is a discussion on and  in regard to incense and allergies:,32105.msg507423.html#msg507423

Here is another discussion on the Ancient Way-  Eastern Orthodox section of Christian forums entitled the Allergic to Incense. One of the respondents writes,

. . . . I knew an Orthodox Priest who recently passed away who would not use incense (with permission from his Hierarch) due to his allergy and heart problems.  . . . He was of the [Russian] Patriarchial Orthodox Church (MP).

If an allowance can be made for a priest who is allergic to incense, wouldn’t it follow that an allowance could be made for occasional incense-free liturgy-  four times a year on a Saturday, perhaps- for lay people who are also allergic?  But that is a decision for our God-loving bishops to make.  Source: 

Personally, I would miss the incense if it were not there. But this is not about me.

 There are icons for the blind and sign language being used in Orthodox Churches in various places, but this is addition, not subtraction. See & 

I asked a Parish Priest I know (my Parish Priest, Fr. Peter Pier, is on medical leave at this time) if this post would be acceptable, given what is being suggested. He thought it would be acceptable, and added a word of his own:

 Incense, it seems to me, is part and parcel of our liturgical tradition and cannot simply be dispensed with.  Nevertheless, exceptions can be periodically made for pastoral needs, as in the case of this woman.

I should also add this:  Remember that many churches are now live-streaming the Liturgy.  (I know St. Mary’s Church in Cambridge, MA, does so.  The Liturgy celebrated there is exceptional, with equally exceptional preaching by Fr. Anthony Hughes.)    This woman could regularly avail herself of this mode of liturgical participation (no incense problem there!) and receive the Eucharist regularly from her priest, as she is apparently already doing.  The occasional incense-less Saturday Liturgy would be a complement to this set-up.

Here is the website for St. Mary’s live-streamed services: 

Now, to the benefits of incense.

The site below cites studies that show that incense quells anxiety and depression. As mentioned earlier, the heavenly worship depicted in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, includes the use of incense. This is why incense is an integral aspect of Orthodox Christian worship services.

From the Blog St. James’ Kids: Incense: It does a body good:

Picture from (This site also describes the benefits of incense.)

The Apostles James and Paul agree

St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians chapter 12 addresses the harmonious functioning of local Parishes, in which, all the gifts of each member- bestowed through the Holy Spirit of God- work together so that mutual love may be complete and fully operable among all. According to apostolic teaching, not one person is to be neglected; nor are his gifts to be overlooked.

But there is an acknowledgement of the reality that some are stronger and some weaker, some more presentable and others less presentable.  Here is how St. Paul addresses this:

20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. First letter of St. Paul to  the Corinthians 12:20-26

St. Paul declares that the weaker or unpresentable members are to receive greater honor, in order to prevent division, in order that the weaker members are cared for equally and not neglected because they are less useful and perhaps less interesting to converse with in the opinion of some.  

It is not unusual for Church members, after Divine Liturgy, to gravitate to those with common interests during coffee hour, the time for social interaction after the service. St. Paul is encouraging us to also relate to those whose interests are different, and to those who through human weakness or some other reason are less accomplished and interesting than those to whom we gravitate.

St. James, in chapter one of his letter, also writes of this:

9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.

St. James, in agreement with St. Paul”s call for greater honor for the weaker, calls for the more “lowly” among us to exult in their high calling, and those with abundant material blessings (the rich) to focus on the development of humility, excusing others while strictly scrutinizing themselves. St. James, more pointedly, writes to those who are well off in chapter two:

 1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

In this passage we discover the reason the lowly brother is to exult: he is more likely than one who is rich to be granted an abundance of faith. He cannot rely on deceitful riches. But the rich person can;  is it not still true, two thousand years later, that the rich are more likely to pursue lawsuits to advance their interests? They have the resources to hire the best lawyers and press a case to a length beyond the resources of those with less. They may claim gains from such uses of human justice systems, but the poor person who relies on divine justice wil inherit a far greater gain.

Yet it is not always so with the rich; to assume this, a poor man would also become a judge with evil thoughts. Are we not all to assume the best of others?

All of this speaks to persons with disability in our Parish Churches. In their specific disabilities, they are less able, or gifted, than those members who are not disabled in that way, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. And so we honor such with “greater honor,” greater care and affirmation,

Was it not the same for the Israelites in the wilderness with the manna, and with material wealth in Church, as Saint Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 8:13-15?

13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack. {from Exodus 16:18}

Here is a resource toward the implementation of these things:

Some Practical Suggestions for Parish Ministry to People with Special Needs, by Fr. Stephen Plumlee 

St. Ouen of Rouen †684

The twentieth bishop of Rouen, he is counted in the west as an intercessor for the deaf.  He maintained a vigorous ascetic life as a bishop, founded monasteries and sent out missionaries. He wrote the life of his friend St. Eligius.

Sources of online information on St. Ouen of Rouen:

QWIKIalpha audiovisual presentation:!/Audoin_(bishop)


His Facebook page! (toward the bottom of the list of the saints of the day,  August 24): 

His Life of St. Eligius: 

St. Cadoc of Llancarvan †580

St. Cadoc

 St. Cadoc

is counted in the West to be an intercessor for persons with hearing problems and deafness, as well as scrofula and glandular disorders. He was from Wales. 

A monastic, he spread the faith of Christ in both Wales and Brittany (Northern France), establishing Churches in these places. In addition to the monastery at Llancarvan in Wales, he built a stone monastery in Scotland.  He also lived with St. Gildas as a hermit on a small island off the coast of Brittany for a time. 

All Saints Parish in Brookline, Massachusetts has made available an online life of St. Cadoc, with an icon of him and many interesting stories:

The Wikipedia entry on St. Cadoc  associates him with King Arthur. There is also mention of the locale in Brittany where “he is called upon to cure the deaf:”  

My original source: 

Source of Icon: Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries


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