May 30, 2011 / May 17, 2011
Sixth Week of Pascha. Tone five.
Apostle Andronicus of the Seventy and his fellow laborer Junia (1st c.). Venerable Euphrosyne (Princess Eudocia) of Moscow (1407). Martyrs Solochon, Pamphamer, and Pamphalon at Chalcedon (298). St. Stephen, archbishop of Constantinople (893). Translation of the relics (1551) of Venerable Adrian, abbot of Ondrusov (Valaam) (1549).
St. Melangell, virgin hermitess of Wales (6th c.) (Celtic & British).
Venerables Nectarius (1550) and Theophanes (1544) of Meteora (Greek).
Venerable Athanasius the New, wonderworker of Christianopolis (18th c.) (Greek).
Great-martyr Nicholas of Sophia (1555).
St. Jonah Atamansk, priest of Odessa (1924).
Words from the Abbot:
As a small boy growing up in Spokane, Washington, we lived near one of the city's large cemeteries. From the earliest days, when I was allowed to ride by bicycle out of our immediate neighborhood, I would ride through this cemetery. The large mausoleum, as well as the number of family entombment chapels, were fascinating to me, and not in the least bit scary.
One of my earliest memories, was sharing with a Sunday School teacher, at our Lutheran church, how sad I was that part of that cemetery was overgrown, and neglected. I even weeded one of the graves, following the suggestion of this teacher, "to do my part." I was only in the fifth grade, yet knew the importance of keeping alive the memories of our long gone family members.
At least twice a year, I would go to other cemeteries, with my grandmother, spending time tending the graves of her sisters, parents, and other deceased members of our family, all of whom I knew through photographs, and the stories, told by my beloved grandmother. The lives of those family members, who were long dead by the time I was born, were vivid to me, through my grandmothers eyes. She was of the old school, where, even as a devout Baptist, she'd talk to her relatives, as though they were there with her, either in a photo she'd kiss, or the gravestone she'd brush off. For her, flowers left at the graves of loved ones, were an ongoing connection to these people, whom she still missed, and still loved. The visits, and the flowers, were all her way of letting them know she still loved them. She once told me that Jesus would let them know she'd been there.
Since my childhood, cemeteries have been important to me. Whenever I am in Spokane, I not only drive by the house I was raised in, and my grandmother's old house, but I still visit that old cemetery. The area that was once neglected, is now kept up, and beautiful.
When teaching in Berkeley, California, I would often take my sack lunch, and drive to this huge, old, cemetery in Oakland, where some of the Bay Area's most famous people are buried, and eat my lunch in the most peace place I knew. In doing so, I was following an old European tradition, of picnicking in cemeteries.
A new trend in our nation, is taking hold. The increased use of cremation of our dead, is now the most common way of disposing our loved ones. In abandoning of the Christian tradition of burial, as opposed to the pagan practice of cremation, we are symbolically declaring we no longer believe in the resurrection of the dead, and the sacredness of the human body, made in the image and likeness of God.
In forgoing the tradition of visiting the graves of our loved ones, we are further distancing ourselves, as a people, from the reality of death. In abandoning the tradition of family plots, we've lost an historical tradition, that has kept family histories alive, and has contributed to the loss of family memories. The memories of those who've gone on before us, both as a nation, and as families, will ultimately have been one of the greatest losses for us, as a people.
There is good reason why the Orthodox Church forbids the cremation of her dead, and good reason why we Orthodox bury our dead in consecrated ground. Numerous times throughout the year, the clergy of our Church, go to the graves of Orthodox believers, and offer up prayers for their souls, in the hope of the General Resurrection. Like my Baptist grandmother, we know that our deceased relatives are comforted by our visits, and by the prayers we offer on their behalf. Death is not something to be feared, and certainly not for the Christian.
Love in Christ,
Photos of the Day:
Photos of various scenes around the monastery, taken on May 29th.
Scripture Readings for the Day:
Preaching Christ at Thessalonica1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
Assault on Jason’s House5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. 7 Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” 8 And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. 9 So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.
Ministering at Berea10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. 14 Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.
47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. 48 If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.” 49 And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad. 53 Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death. 54 Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with His disciples. 55 And the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went from the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves. 56 Then they sought Jesus, and spoke among themselves as they stood in the temple, “What do you think—that He will not come to the feast?” 57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him.
Click photo to enlarge.