Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

Conclusions Without the Facts

May 25, 2016

Years ago, afteMother of Compassionr completing my PhD in history, I was asked by the jurisdiction to which I belonged, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, to write a detailed history of the Ukrainian Church in the USA. A significant number of Ukrainians began arriving in the United States and Canada before World War I, many seeking economic advancement and stability in a new world.  Several of these were temporary immigrants, fully intending to return to Ukraine to reunite with their families.  The First World War changed that narrative for many. Small communities were created in several areas: the mining towns of Pennsylvania, the big cities of New York and Chicago that offered factory employment, as well as the rich farming lands of the Midwest. Naturally many of the first community centers that Ukrainians created in the new world were churches, where they could gather for divine services offered in a language and setting that was familiar and welcoming to them. From these significant numbers a Ukrainian Orthodox diocese was created, with several parishes.[1] This is a fascinating history that demands a thorough and scholarly study. Read the rest of this entry »

The First Duty of Love is to Listen

April 3, 2016

In memory of Archimandrite Athanasy

Father AthanasyA very special priest died a few months ago. He was a priest who served as my spiritual father for many years. Archimandrite Athanasy, or simply Father “Ath” as many of his spiritual children called him, was a kind and gentle soul, who understood firsthand how difficult life can be, which made him a very compassionate person. Perhaps because he himself had a difficult life, full of illness and uncertainty, Father Athanasy understood the deep necessity for love, kindness, hope, joy and forgiveness in all people. He was a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, and served in a few parishes in the US, Haiti as well as in the Russian convents in Jerusalem. He served in the most exalted of places, Jerusalem, and part of the forgotten world which is Haiti. Read the rest of this entry »

By a Handmaid of God

February 7, 2016

A20This week, I met with another local Orthodox priest.

My hope was to find a way to be a transgender family and still be Orthodox. After all, this priest has also known us for nearly 20 years, through our sister church.

Perhaps, I dreamed in the days leading up to our meeting, the parish council could meet, and they would allow us to come to church as ourselves. Perhaps, as a technicality, they would ask that my spouse limit the times she took Communion. Or perhaps, like the sick, the Eucharist would be brought to her once or twice a year at home, yet, as a family, we could still come to church regularly.

The meeting did not go as I had idealized. Read the rest of this entry »

Living a Charlie Brown Christmas

December 22, 2015

charlie-brown-christmas-22Christmas has always been a difficult holiday for me to celebrate. This is true for many gay and lesbian people. I grew up in a home with two different religious and ethnic traditions, including two different dates on when to celebrate Christmas. While my Ukrainian Orthodox father insisted on raising us in his faith, my English, Anglican raised mother, wanted to keep a few of her traditions alive in our home. There seemed to be a constant battle in our home over when and how to celebrate the Christmas holidays. For my father, far from his homeland of Ukraine, Christmas was to be celebrated on January 7, and came replete with age old traditions that were not always very well adopted by his American children, who were very much influenced by the madness that is found around December 25 in this country. My mother, also far from her family and homeland in England, wanted to celebrate the holiday on December 25. Going to a church where she could sing Christmas carols she grew up with, having a tree and a festive meal, were all part of the holiday celebrations. Read the rest of this entry »

Living with Regret

Posted by andre under Reflections

Living with regret

October 18, 2015

In memory of my father, Vyacheslav.

A few months ago my father died. I loved my father but we had somewhat of a difficult relationship for the last ten years of his life. When I graduated from high school, over thirty years ago, I was determined to enter Seminary in order to prepare for the priesthood, he was cautious, concerned that the life of a priest was difficult. The Ukrainian phrase that he used was that being a priest “was a tough piece of bread,” but he did give me his blessing to enter Seminary. Throughout my years of study he was very proud of me, especially when I was able to return to my home parish during vacations and allowed to preach to the congregation. He used to prod the local pastor to allow me to preach. The harder conversation came months after graduating from Seminary and telling my father that I intended to ask to be ordained as a celibate priest.[1] He was very worried that I would be Read the rest of this entry »

Coming out to our Orthodox Priest

September 26, 2015

By a Handmaid of God

Softly, the candles glowed in the dimly lit temple.

We found ourselves, my wife and I, alone on this Friday evening, standing in front of the altar of our church. Our priest was gathering holy water and the brush of hyssop to sprinkle us with.

Gently, I leaned over to my beloved and whispered in her ear, “Don’t lock your knees. You wouldn’t want to faint.” She smiled, with a slightly ironic twist to her full lips. “You forget,” she whispered back, “I’m former military. I know how to stand.” Read the rest of this entry »

In light of the Supreme Court decision

July 29, 2015

Guest Reflection by Kristen

Kristen is a reader and supporter of this website.

Supreme Court rainbow
Drawing by Bob Englehart

Over the past week, I have seen and heard many comments by friends who are celebrating the recent Supreme Court decision, and many who are lamenting it. Almost all in the latter category are Christians. I have also seen comments asking why Christians, who theoretically preach love and acceptance, are the most avid opponents of gay marriage and often the promoters of discriminatory activities. I have thought a great deal about these issues, prayed, and consulted with multiple priests. The following opinions are my own. I am sure these opinions will be rather unpopular with many people I know, but I do not care. I have been an Orthodox Christian my entire life, and attend church regularly. I have taken adult theology courses, read Christian authors (and, of course, the Bible), taught Sunday school, actively participated in youth and young adult groups, sang in choirs and volunteered I strive every day to follow the example of Christ, though being human fall short. Read the rest of this entry »

The Beauty Within Us

Posted by andre under Reflections

The beauty within us

July 3, 2015

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

“Unless we look at a person and see the beauty there is in this person, we can contribute nothing to him. One does not help a person by discerning what is wrong, what is ugly, what is distorted. Christ looked at everyone He met, at the prostitute or the thief, and saw the beauty hidden there. Perhaps it was distorted, perhaps damaged, but it was beauty none the less, and what He did was to call out this beauty.” (Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh of blessed memory).

What is beautiful about a person? Most of us are often quick to judge others. We look at people’s clothing, height, race, weight, age, occupation, home and car and numerous other aspects about them, and judge them based on these very superficial and fleeting features. Read the rest of this entry »

No greater agony, the untold story

June 9, 2015

In memory of my friend, “Luke”

Maya AngelouRecently I found out that a friend of mine from high school, someone I knew over thirty-five years ago, passed away not so long ago. We were close friends in high school, mainly because we did not fit in with other groups of our peers. Neither of us were jocks, or overly brilliant, or cool enough to be part of the various cliques in high school, and so we found a kinship in our ostracism. One day, I decided that I was going to tell “Luke” that I was gay. It was a deep secret that I had hidden inside of me, never telling anyone. Since we were both seniors in high school at the time, soon to be off to out of state colleges, I thought that I could risk telling my best friend that I was attracted to other guys. Luke was not someone I was attracted to, but thought that he might also be gay, and so I risked it. I got the shock of my life, when he told me that he thought that there was something wrong with me. He then threatened to go immediately and tell my parents what I had said. I panicked, and with the best acting I could possibly muster up at the moment, tried to laugh the entire thing off as a big joke. I am not sure if he bought it, but it certainly bought me freedom from any embarrassment or ill treatment from my parents. Read the rest of this entry »

Prejudice can’t survive proximity

May 10, 2015

pride_ver6_xlg“Prejudice can’t survive proximity, it melts away when you meet and speak to those you fear”.[1] This statement is from an interview with Stephen Beresford, the screenwriter for the movie, Pride. The movie was inspired by a real story about a group of lesbians and gay men who supported striking miners in Britain in the early 1980s. After the group of gay men and lesbians came to the aid of the miners in their cause, the miners later supported significant changes to the political platform of the British Labour Party, urging the party to adopt a pro-gay stance. Completely opposite bedfellows, they found respect and mutual support, but first they had to get to know each other. The initial reluctance and even open dislike and mistrust, was turned into mutual respect and admiration once they got to know each other. Prejudice could not survive proximity. Read the rest of this entry »

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