Archive for January, 2015

The Least of These: An Orthodox Christian Blog focused on raising children with autism

“Raising autism in the church, with dignity”

A new Orthodox Christian blog for parents raising children with autism, who have a different way of perceiving the world. Parents with neurotypical (what most people would call “normal”) ways of perceiving face a big challenge, especially when these children are on the far end of the autism scale. And so the the Oprisko family has invited us into their lives to discuss these matters.

To access the blog: The Least of These

Here are some of their first posts:

The very first post, January 2, 2015: When the last shall be first

The second, and so on: The hem of his garment; 5 Ways to Involve your Autistic Child in your Church Community; Things that don’t belong; Thankful Thursday: I saw 38 bridges; Caring for each other when your child has autism: 6 Ideas on marriage from the saints (Part 1) (the first of a six part series)

I credit Xenia Grant for showing me that autism is a different way of perceiving. In the largely neurotypical world, people with autism are at a disadvantage, in terms of “fitting in.” In this sense it is a disability. But not everyone feels the need to fit in, and for them, it is simply a another way of perceiving and experiencing the world our Father created. Here, on page four of this publication, The Communicator, are Xenia’s thoughts on the matter: http://www.autcom.org/pdf/AutcomNLSpring2008.pdf

 

The Jesus Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

The Jesus Prayer

(or, Lord Jesus, have mercy on me; Lord have mercy; Lord Jesus, have mercy . . . no rules against variation) Picture from:  Orthodox Christian Meditations by Father Stephen Kostoff: Exploring the Incarnation – The Jesus Prayer as Perfect Profession of Faith

Here are some other resources from Dr. Albert S. Rossi and Fr. John Breck on practicing the Jesus Prayer:

From Dr. Rossi: Part 1. Prayer is Not Optional; Part 2. Jesus Prayer – Prayer of the Heart (Numerous other resources for practicing the prayer are mentioned at the end of the essay. 

From Fr. John Breck:  On Silence and Stillness Witnesses to Silence and Stillness

“. . . an anonymous Russian pilgrim, physically handicapped and with only the most rudimentary education, undertakes a voyage of the heart that will lead him step by step toward the heavenly Jerusalem. 

What is the nature of this voyage?

to “stand before God with the mind in the heart, to offer Him intercession, thanksgiving, praise and glorification day and night, without ceasing”

†††

The Jesus prayer does not require an extra measure of intelligence to be practiced effectively; in fact, living “in the head,” it is said, is a hindrance to acquiring the prayer of the heart, our goal. People with developmental disability could apply themselves to this practice and reap spiritual benefit thereby.

†††

Here is a response by a person with a disability, Judy, to Dr. Rossi’s essay:

Boy can I empathize with you! I’m disabled at 55 but recovering more and more each day as I practice having a thankful heart. And I, too, find the very best rest and therapy in Jesus, imagining myself being carried like a little lamb close to His chest and listening to His heartbeat. And I’ve been through situations that are just horrendous, so we WONT describe them. Still, I remember that text that says the a spirit of fear doesn’t come from God but of boldness (I forget now, darn it) and it ends with a SOUND MIND. And I thank God for these things. And I thank Him for leading me and loving me and guiding me. And I try to Practice His Presence like Brother Lawrence all day and all night long wherever I go, wherever I am. Yes, I try to submit to His will in every situation and be His loving presence to those around me even if I don’t say one word about Him to them. And if I think of myself as someone He can use when maybe He doesn’t have too many others to use, I don’t care so much whether I look foolish or wise to the other people. I’m just glad He used me to do something for Him.And there’s one pearl of great price that has helped me to do this more consistently than anything else so I will share it with you. Yes, I’ll offer the most priceless pearl I’ve found in the 33 years since I converted to the Eastern Orthodox Church because I believed in the Spirit that I had found a viable link, the real successor to the churches that formed around the Apostles right after Pentecost and under St. Paul during his missionary trips.This pearl is the Jesus Prayer after the saying of Blind Bartimaeus who cried out “Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me.” And the version used for centuries is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Repeating this prayer in the morning and trying to remember HIM all day long changes the day and changes me.” It reminds me that He’s always with me.
It allows me to murmur His Holy Name in the depths of my being like the Name of my Spouse as I’m dreaming of Him or caressing Him. And it enflames my soul with love for Him. (What more could I ask?)Then this love transforms me, because He is the only one who loves. I will always be learning and desiring to learn because He first loved me. This is the only way I know to increase my desire to submit all that I am and have to Him, My Beloved, My Savior, My Yeshua, My Jesus, My Christ, My King, My Lord and My God.For a more complete explanation of this prayer go to

Respectfully submitted, judy, the wounded sinner who’s so in love with Jesus

An Orthodox Christian Perspective on the Sanctity of Human Life

To access: An Orthodox Christian Perspective, from the Orthodox Word

baby at eight weeks

Reflection

Each human being is unique creation of God. Each one of us has never been before and will never be again – throughout all eternity each human being who is, has, and will be conceived is unique.

  By Rev. Deacon John Protopapas, Executive Director, Orthodox Christians for Life 

The post, by means of videos and quotations with commentaries, covers The Source of Christian Teaching, Orthodox Worship, Scripture and the UnbornWhat The Early Church Said, and What the Modern Church Says.

Conclusion

  There is little more that can be said – the deliberate destruction and/or desecration of a human being is unthinkable for a true-believing Orthodox Christian. God created Man in his own likeness and image, man is a living icon of flesh and blood, in which God gave the breath of life (ruah). Killing an innocent human being can be seen is an act of blasphemy against God – it is the ultimate act of iconoclasm.

See also Orthodox Christians for Life

 

Jesus wept

 Roe versus Wade

. . .We ignore our poor and elderly, the dispossessed, the mentally ill, the stranger in our midst. We are too busy pursuing our own 15 minutes of fame! We have no time to spare to help others, to visit the sick, to comfort the despairing, to guide the lost, to resettle the dispossessed, to show hospitality to the stranger. Abraham entertained angels but we do not even know who our neighbors are! We do not even see the homeless. The pains and trials of those “not of our class” or “not of our race” are “not our problem”! . . . .Life itself is progressively cheapened. People who cannot defend themselves -the unborn, the severely disabled- are treated as things to be managed (or disposed of) by others. In our greed for personal wealth and power, we trash the environment, God’s glorious creation and the web of life that He designed to sustain us all, as if it were merely our property over which we have a right to do as we please. . . .

An excerpt from “God Must Be Weeping,” by the Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes. For the entire spiritual writing, click on this website: http://www.serfes.org/spiritual/september2007.htm

I try to keep this weblog on a positive note, but as we all should well know, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” The 100,000 or so who march each year in the frigid air and the grim, grey streets of Washington D.C. on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme 1973 “Roe versus Wade” decision to legalize abortion with virtually no limits are largely ignored by the U.S. media outlets for their efforts. But God sees; He counts our every tear, shed according to His call to mourn our sins, personal and corporate.

And here is a podcast by Frederica Matthewes-Green on the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade exploring the Orthodox Christian perspective of this continuing injustice: http://audio.ancientfaith.com/frederica/roevwade.mp3

And here is a reprint of a previous post, Down Syndrome and Abortion:

Prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome has been shown to lead to abortion in 84 to 91% of cases in recent U.S. studies. An estimated 70% of U.S. women choose to have prenatal screening tests.

Health care providers tend to assume that if a woman consents to prenatal screening, she is open to the option of abortion. And so it is often encouraged that she choose to avoid this “burden.”

But a Harvard study of those who chose to continue their pregnancy (mostly on the basis of conscience and religion, but also on the basis of information about Down syndrome from printed materials or from a parent of a child with Down syndrome) indicated that “most of these mothers felt that their doctors did not explain DS adequately or in a balanced fashion.”

These mothers “suggested that doctors and genetic counselors should convey consistent, accurate, and sensitive messages about life with a child with DS, and that doctors, nurses, and hospitals should provide contacts with local DS support organizations.”

But the trouble is, the March of Dimes, the National Down Syndrome Society, and the National Down Syndrome Congress all take a neutral stance on abortion. This neutral stance, in effect, implies that the abortion of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome is in the best interests of society, that it is justifiable.

Would it not be better if these organizations stand in defense of the inherent value to society of persons with Down syndrome?

(from “Down Syndrome And Abortion,” by Susan W. Enouen, P.E. in Life Issues Connector, January 2007) To access their website and this article: http://www.lifeissues.org/connector/2007/Jan_DownsAbortion.htm

As St. Paul writes, “On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable.” (1 Corinthians 12:21) This verse is often quoted on this site, for it is a truth that must be upheld, in the Church, and by extension, in all of our life.

photo originally from http://www.uhcg.org/Stem-Cell/Thoughts-unborn-child.html

St. Antony the Great

St. Antony the Great

Rejoice, for you raised paralytics from the sick beds.
Rejoice, for you gave sight to the blind.
Rejoice, for you healed many diseases.
Rejoice, most marvelous and divinely wise guide of monks.
Rejoice, fervent servant of Christ.
Rejoice, most gentle consolation of the sorrowful.
Rejoice, most beloved boast of monks.
Rejoice, venerable Father Anthony, founder of the desert life!

They who have eyes and ears, let them see and hear!

Power Chair

This is from the website Upworthy. This post presents the opposite side of the coin from invisible disabilities. The lesson here is, “Do not judge by appearances.” (Jesus said that!) Upworthy’s title is “A Young Disabled Woman Made This. 20 Seconds In, I’m Totally Impressed. And By The End, Blown Away.” Scroll down to the video. Beneath the video is a transcript you may open, unless it’s there already, if you would like to read what she said. Notice that the young woman who made this video calls herself PowerChairChick. Here’s the website, and the video:

Video (3 minutes, 37 seconds): See and HEAR an intelligent woman with abilities, and a disability

Picture from Power Chair Review

invisible child

 

by Matushka Wendy Cwiklinski ( She wrotes as a mother of a number of children with invisible disabilities.)

d

The name “invisible child” is both a descriptor of and a dedication to our children, who are invisible in the sense that their disabilities, though often severe, are hidden from view. Brain disorders, though biologically based, often are not obvious physically, so the invisible child looks like any other child. In addition, children with these disorders usually have normal intelligence. In fact, many are gifted, sometimes to a high degree, and because of this they are able to develop coping skills that further hide their differences, the result being that they may either not be identified or their struggles will be misunderstood. Because it typically takes such a long time for children to be diagnosed and receive appropriate treatment, they are particularly susceptible to falling through the cracks, dropping out of school, becoming suicidal, or entering the juvenile justice system. …

To access the entire article:

http://oca.org/resource-handbook/familylife/church-and-the-child-with-invisible-disabilities

When persons with blindness, or in wheelchairs, or with Downs Syndrome features come to our Church, its easy to identify them as people to help. But its a little harder to see them as people who can help. And its much harder to see, as Matushka Wendy writes, children with invisible disabilities, who look like everybody else, as image-bearers of Christ who just need  extra patience. The article and the website are a good place to start educating one’s self toward this goal.

http://www.invisiblechild.org/About.htm

Invisible/Visible

Words unheard
All blurred
I don’t get it
What did you say?

Loneliness is the worst
Being outside
Apart from the others
What do they say?

I feel invisible
Want to fade
Don’t want to feel rejected
Do they hear me?

I want to be a part
Heard and seen
Break the wall
I’m here!

Learn to climb
Get overview and perspective
Use equipment and learn to secure
Dare the unknown

Feel alive
Defeat the obstacle
Be self responsible
And be in control.

I want.

“Usynlig – synlig” by Inger Anita Herheim, freely translated from Norwegian by Ulf Nagel

Picture and Poem from Becoming Deaf in Norway 2007: Invisible-Visible

See also Huffington Post: But You Don’t Look Disabled 


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