04 September 2012

Promises to Keep

Many apologies, dear readers, for the lack of posts over the last few weeks. I’m afraid I was quite busy—first, getting ready for and beginning the school year, and second, with my sister’s wedding and my own ordination to the diaconate (as of Sunday, 3 September/21 August). 

The latter event, of course, has loomed heavily in my mind, both before and after. Over 13 years ago, as an over-eager, clergy-wannabe, newbie convert of two or three years, I read the following words of Metropolitan Hierotheos and trembled, ‘Since the task of the deacon is to purify others of passions, he should himself, prior to ordination, have reached a stage of purification so that he is himself a living exponent of the practical philosophy.’ [1] That effectively cured me of any sense of urgency about ordination. When the final push came, it was very nearly decided without my input. As I remember it, Metropolitan Hilarion, Bishop Peter, my spiritual father, Fr Anthony, and my wife, Brighid, rather conspired against me, as it were, and now here we are. But I alone am responsible now. Met. Hierotheos’s major premise, of course, comes from St Dionysius the Areopagite, Ecclesiastical Hierarchy 5.6, 508A-B, [2] and it is a text of which I remain acutely aware as I go about the duties ahead of me. I can only ask that all forgive me for my complete failure to live up to the standards of the Gospel, and my presumption in accepting this position. I am perfectly serious about that. 

In other and more interesting news, I’ve been meaning for some weeks now to fulfill a charge. Holy Trinity Publications in Jordanville kindly sent me a review copy of the new edition of The Arena by St Ignatius (Brianchaninov), [3] which I have been comparing with my copy of the third printing (1991) of the original edition—a veritable antique of a book. [4] Hopefully, I shall manage a post on this in the next couple of days, and at the same time, pay homage to a friend for whom I am exceedingly worried. 

Finally, as a sort of pre-ordination gift from God, I suppose, my friend Lee Webb, theological librarian at my alma mater, informed me last week that he had something for me at the OCU library. I swung by on Friday after school, and in a state of shock was handed a box full of all 16 volumes of the 1914 edition of Baring-Gould’s Lives of the Saints. Apparently, they were to be simply discarded by the library, and my new best friend Lee immediately thought of yours truly. This, added to the recent gift by a subdeacon of my parish of a second-hand copy of Fr Zakaria Machitadze’s Lives of the Georgian Saints, [5] has nearly convinced me that it is the will of Providence that I go back to blogging about Saints. We shall see... 

[1] Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) of Nafpaktos, Orthodox Psychotherapy: The science of the Fathers, tr. Esther Williams (Levadia, Greece: Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, 1994), p. 74. 

[2] Pages 237-8 of Luibheid’s translation. 

[3] St Ignatius (Brianchaninov), The Arena: Guidelines for Spiritual & Monastic Life, 2nd ed., tr. Archimandrite Lazarus (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity, 2012). 

[4] St Ignatius (Brianchaninov), The Arena: An Offering to Contemporary Monasticism, tr. Archimandrite Lazarus (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity, 1991). 

[5] Archpriest Zakaria Machitadze, Lives of the Georgian Saints, tr. David & Lauren Elizabeth Ninoshvili, ed. Lado Mirianashvili & the St Herman of Alaska Brotherhood (Platina, CA: St Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2006).