Archive for July, 2012

On giving to the poor

 by His Eminence Metropolitan Saba Esber

 (pictured here with Fr. Joseph Huneycutt)




The Poor are Our Gateway to the Kingdom

Read it here:


A question: who are the poor?
Not all persons with disability are poor in economic terms. We all have deficits; even if we’re not officially “disabled.” The deficits may be, variously, economic, social, emotional, or moral (Lord have mercy on me, a sinner), which do not typically fall into the category of disability; whereas physical or cognitive deficits do fall into that category. 
 I would understand the poor to whom we are to give to be those whose deficits in any of these ways (or another that may have been omitted) are significant and serious enough to activate healthy consciences to act, according to the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit,  on their behalf in the ways that meet their need. This is, of course, a personal, subjective definition.
 Jesus said, “Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.” (St. Luke 6:30)
 Giving can be done in many ways: money, time, effort, listening, encouraging, and the like. Saint John Chrysostom has made this point:
For St. John, the dimensions of almsgiving extend to all aspects of human need, from clothing, food, and shelter, to the needs of soul and spirit. St. John says, “Now charity is not bare words, [. . .] but a taking care of [people].” He suggests helping the poor, tending the sick, rescuing those in peril, supporting the troubled, and empathizing with both those who weep and those who rejoice (NPNF, 1. 11, 7, 380, c.1). He also notes that a good word is as powerful as money in lifting another’s spirit in many cases (NPNF, 1, 11, 19, 495, c.2). Again, he says, “[. . .] Alms may be done not only by money, but by acts [such as] kindly stand by [or lending] a helping hand [. . .].” St. John encourages imitation of the Good Samaritan’s response to the destitute and strangers. But, he says, exceed material help; acquaint him with heaven, help him don the robe of righteousness, and be sure to wear your own.
(St. John Chrysostom and the Socialization of Persons with Developmental Disabilities: Patristic Inspiration for Contemporary Application, by William J. Gall, P. 17.)

Picture from


St. Alban of Mainz †400


St. Albinus of Mainz
 A Good Source, with pictures and narration:!/Alban_of_Mainz

 St. Alban of Mainz is counted on western lists as an intercessor for persons with epilepsy, hernia victims, and those suffering from kidney stones. He fled from Arian persecution to Italy; St. Ambrose of Milan sent him to Gaul and Germany to evangelize. He converted many. He was martyred for Christ by Vandals invaders, who beheaded him while he was praying.

Here are more sources for this information: & 

Picture from 

H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr.: The Orthodox Christian Bioethics Solution

St. Basil the Great

or Moral Pluralism and the Crisis of Secular Bioethics: Why Orthodox Christian Bioethics has the Solution, 24 pp.

by H. Tristam Engelhardt Jr.

Dr. Engelhardt addresses the challenge of moral pluralism to an Orthodox Christian consensus on bioethical dilemnas, which are briefly described in contrast to even western Christian approaches which import a legal framework from philosophical sources.

Knowledge of God and knowledge of how to proceed in the face of bioethical dilemnas is set in the framework of personal knowledge of God (in contrast to mere knowledge about Him) which proceeds from right worship, toward the goal of union with God- Theosis. The bioethical dilemna, for an Orthodox Christian, must be addressed from within the community of right worship and a life directed toward this ultimate goal, according to pastoral guidance rather than natural-law  legalism

He quotes St. Basil the Great, one of the three Holy Hierarchs, whose scriptural interpretations and teachings are foundational for Orthodox Christianity, on the proper use of medicine:

Whatever requires an undue amount of thought or trouble or involves a large expenditure of effort and causes our whole life to revolve, as it were, around solicitude for the flesh must be avoided by Christians. Consequently, we must take great care to employ this medical art, if it should be necessary, not as making it wholly accountable for our state of health or illness, but as redounding to the glory of God and as a parallel to the care given the soul.


Therefore, whether we follow the precepts of the medical art or decline to have recourse to them for any of the reasons mentioned above, we should hold to our objective of pleasing God and see to it that the soul‟s benefit is assured, fulfilling thus the Apostle‟s precept: Whether you eat or drink or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God (I Cor 10:31)

Basil, St. (1962). Ascetical Works, trans. Sister Monica Wagner. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press. Pp. 334, 336-37.

Be sure to read the essay for Dr. Enghardt’s use of these valuable patristic quotes for our modern context.

Image from 

A Jean Vanier website

 I truly believe that Orthodox Christians have something to learn from Jean Vanier’s message, which is built upon personal stories of transformative experiences which he gained by simply choosing to live, on a long-term basis, with persons who have  developmental disabilities.

Of course, he did this with great devotion, which makes all the difference.

From that decision, those relationships, and their blessed life together (which, though laden with human brokenness and many inner struggles, has, through these very things, become a place of healing for both the persons with disability, Jean, and those who came to assist him) has come a model for a mode of living that reflects in a highly  tangible manner Christ’s Way of love, which includes openness and appreciation for others who are different from ourselves, in the setting of a shared living arrangement which through Christ has become a community (actually, many communities): L’Arche.

The Website:   

St. Ursus of Aosta †529

Another Irish missionary, Saint Ursus of Aosta,  evangelized Gaul, or France, in the region of Digne.

Later he served as an archdeacon in the Church of St. Peter outside the city of Aosta, Italy. (The Bishop of Aosta was an Arian, and he refused to serve under him.

He lived a solitary life, praying constantly, working with his hands for his necessities, and comforted and helped those in need. Many wonders are attributed to him. 

He is counted as an intercessor for those with rheumatism and kidney disease.


(translated from Italian) 



Source of Image: 

Lyudmilla Senner † July 12, 2011

From the weblog of Keystone Human Services International:

Remembering the Life of Lyudmila Senner: 

by Maria Dolbunova, General Director of Keystone Foundation for Children and Families

A fuller commemoration to Lyudmilla in Russian: 

A Google translation of this Russian commemoration into English:

St. Totnan †689

Sts. Kilian, Colman, & Totnan

 St. Totnan (a deacon), with St. Kilian (a bishop) and St. Colman (a priest), all from Ireland, were martyred as they were evangelizing Germany, specifically Franconia and East Thuringia. St. Totnan is counted as an intercessor for people who suffer from gout and rheumatism. 

Sources: (source of image)


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