Archive for June, 2012

a discussion: is there laxity for those who are mentally ill and cannot confess/repent?

Orthodox Christians weigh in on the matter of whether or not being mentally ill makes one less responsible for sins. The sin of suicide enters the picture from the start of the discussion:

When I was a Protestant, I had a friend who was a roommate during my one year in Seminary, who spent a year or two with Operation Mobilization (a Protestant missionary organization), but wearied of trying to raise support (he had bounced around to various Protestant churches, and had no stable, solid base of support). At which point he decided to campaign to be president of the United States. My friend spent some time campaigning and preaching at the Washington Monument toward this goal.

He also would sink, at various times during his life, into a deep depression. He was admitted to psychiatric hospitals a number of times. I do not know if he had a diagnosis, but he seemed like he might have been bipolar to me. (I have other friends with this diagnosis, and know a little about it.)  

When all his grand visions of missionary work and political office came to naught, he went home to help his parents. The loss of these visions proved too hard on him, and he again was hospitalized. The last time I talked to him, on the phone, he had basically given up on life.

I wrote him some letters after this and had not heard back. So one day I called his parent’s house and his mother said that he had died. He had taken his own life. His name was Ed Washburn.

And so this discussion makes me think of Ed. He was not an Orthodox Christian, so the sacrament confession and repentance were not on the table for him. But the overall issues discussed here are.

Lord have mercy.

Here is Ed’s online obituary: 


Voices from Russia: A village makes a home for many orphans

In the village of Panfilovo, in Vologda Oblast, Russia 11 families adopted 22 children in 2008; the people of the town have a local tradition of doing this now for generations, and the adoptions continue.

A quote from the story, gleaned from the weblog Voices from Russia:

The villagers are fully aware of their responsibility for bring up the adopted children. A proof of this is the weekly meetings of foster-parents. Concerning this, Natalia Treshchalova said, “We gather not only to speak of our common problems, which are numerous, but, also, to resolve them by our common effort. I can’t say that raising adopted children is all sweetness and light. No. All of the kids have their problems. But, their problems are our problems”. Practically every adopted child has serious health problems of one sort or another. Some of them lag in their mental development or have psychological disorders; others suffer from early forms of scoliosis. Since the villagers are kind-hearted and closely-knit people, they usually resolve the difficulties of their adopted children through a common effort.

And so many of the adopted childen have disabilities; the people are not looking simply for perfect, healthy children. Instead, children with disabilities are valued, and the focus of the parent’s weekly meetings is ‘the common effort” to resolve whatever difficulties there are.

If only more locales in Russia, Greece, the United States of America would make such common efforts.

As our Lord Jesus said, “the Kingdom of God is in your midst.”

For the full story, and a touching picture:

some Ethiopian efforts in regard to persons with disabilities

Ethiopia is a country in which the Christian faith was established very early. Here is the website for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (in English):

The Church’s “Child and Family Affairs Organization” website addresses the situation of children with disabilities: 

Here’s is this Ethiopian Orthodox organization’s webpage detailing their five main programs: 

Another effort by the Church: 


The Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development (ECDD) is a private, non-profit organization with 60 members and 32 paid staff, 15 fulltime and 17 part-time (24 of which have disabilities themselves), which seeks to promote inclusion of persons with disabilities in various programs, projects, and services in Ethiopia.  Here is their website:

At the bottom of their “About ECDD” page under “Program Activities” number 7 on the list is “Improving the employability of people with disabilities;” the International Orthodox Christian Charities is listed as a partner in this work.

The IOCC Ethiopia webpage elaborates on past and ongoing cooperative efforts in this country: 

Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Epiphany Icon,written by Addis A. Timket, from:

St. Veranus of Cavaillon †589

St Veranus (or Vrain or Veran’) is counted as an intercessor for persons with mental illness.

For information on St. Veranus:

Here is a more extended, informative article from Wikipedia in Italian: .

An (awkward, imperfect) Google translation of this site into English:


Update: For an even better source, see the site from which the image above was found:

Image from Saint Véran de Jargeau 

Google Translation:  Saint Veran Jargeau

St. Romanus of Condat †460

After spending some time at a monastery, St. Romanus went to dwell in forest in order to devote himself to prayer. Other like-minded brothers joined him there, and great grace was upon them. And so a monastery was established there at Condate, near Mount Jura, close to the border between France and Switzerland. The holiness of St. Romanus and these brothers, as well as the wonders that happened in this place drew many more, and more monasteries sprung up in the forest, some for men and others for women. St. Romanus was eventually ordained a priest by St. Hilary of Poitiers.

St. Romanus of Condat is counted as an intercessor for persons with mental health issues.

For more information: (source of icon)

From our Holy Bishops: Disability and Communion

 Pictured: Attendees of the Standing Conference of the Orthodox Bishops of America at St. Sava Cathedral, New York, NY, May 2, 2006

Disability and Communion is the most official statement on the matter (June 25, 2009) our American Orthodox Christian Bishops have put forward: 

 The Orthodox Church of America’s website reprinted the statement, and, at the bottom of the post, put forward some good questions to reflect upon in regard to personal interaction with persons with disability, both within the Parish Church, and in daily life. 

Picture from 

– On Tuesday, May 2, 2006 the St. Sava Cathedral in New York was honored to host the annual SCOBA Meeting, the gathering of the hierarchs of all canonical Orthodox Churches in America. Attending this event were: Greek Orthodox Archbishop Dimitrios, Serbian Orthodox Metropolitan Christopher, Romanian Orthodox Archbishop Nicolae, Ukrainian Orthodox Archbishop Anthony, Bulgarian Metropolitan Joseph, Antiochian Orthodox Bishop Basil (filling in for Metropolitan Philip), representative of the Orthodox Church of America (OCA) V. Rev. David Brum and the general secretary of SCOBA Bishop Dimitrios Xantos.     

†The Holy Apostle Bartholomew†

The Holy Apostle Bartholomew, one of the Twelve,  preached the Gospel with the Apostle Philip in Syria and Asia Minor (modern Turkey).  In the ancient city of Hieropolis, they were crucified. An earthquake caused such a fright that the people took the apostles down from their crosses. The Apostle Philip, though, had died, but the Apostle Bartholomew survived.

He continued to preach and work wonders in the power of Christ through the Holy Spirit in India and Armenia, and many turned to the Lord. In Armenia he was first crucified upside down, then flayed and beheaded. His relics are now in Rome.

He is counted in the West as an intercessor for persons with nervous conditions and neurological diseases. 

For more on the Holy Apostle Bartholomew:  

Source of Icon:


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