Archive for August, 2008

Raising A Saint

August 31, 2008

Most of us would be satisfied to raise children who remain faithful believers. It is not always an easy thing and every parent who has such a child should rejoice constantly. There is no method to raise a child to be a saint, for God alone gives the grace that results in the mystery of such wonderful lives. However that may be, I am often struck in reading the writings of St. Silouan by his stories about his father. It would seem that the most fundamental spiritual lessons are not ones he gained from an Elder, but from the simple peasant that was his father – but a simple peasant with the faith of a saint. A small example:

Let us not be distressed over the loss of worldly goods, such losses are a small matter. My own father taught me this early in life. When some misfortune happened at home, he would remain serene. When our house caught fire and the neighbors said, ‘Ivan Petrovich, your house is burnt down!’ he replied, ‘With God’s help I’ll build it up again.’ Once we were walking along the side of our field, and I said, ‘Look, they’re stealing our sheaves!’ ‘Aye, son,’ he answered me, ‘the Lord has given us corn and to spare, so if anyone steals it, it means he’s in want.’ Another day I said to him, ‘You give a lot away to charity, while some who are better off than we are give far less.’ To which he replied, ‘Aye, son, the Lord will provide.’ And the Lord did not confound his hope.

From St. Silouan of Mount Athos

There is no better way to teach a child Christianity than to actually live it – truly and from the heart. You cannot teach what you do not live.

Pray for the Gulf Coast

August 30, 2008

I have a daughter and her husband (Khouria Kathryn and Fr. Philip Rogers) who live in Lafayette, LA. They and some other parishioners are riding out Gustav in the home of a parishioner that is “hurricane proof”. That entire area of the gulf suffered so greatly when struck by Katrina – please keep all in your prayers that they be protected from the ravages of the storm. May God have mercy on them all and keep them safe by His strong hand.

Global Cooling

August 29, 2008

The following is a reprint of an article I published back in December. Thought I’d offer it again. The reference to “Global Cooling” is a play on Kalomiros’ description of the coldness of the modern heart.

I have been listening to a tape of the talk, “The River of Fire,” given by Dr. Alexander Kalomiros in 1980. By now it has become a very frequently cited and discussed document within the modern Orthodox world. Despite the occasional stridency of its tone, I cannot mkae myself disagree with its conclusions. The following is from the opening remarks of the talk – and speak eloquently of the “Christian Atheism” I have written about elsewhere. The greatest enemy of the Christian faith is the distortion of the Christian faith. Orthodox Christians can have no greater task than to live and teach in accordance with the truth – without this the human heart will continue to grow cold – as it turns away from the caricatures of God so often portrayed in our modern world. May God give us grace. The full text of the talk may be found here.

There is no doubt that we are living in the age of apostasy predicted for the last days. In practice, most people are atheists, although many of them theoretically still believe. Indifference and the spirit of this world prevail everywhere.

What is the reason for this state?

The reason is the cooling of love. Love for God no more burns in human hearts, and in consequence, love between us is dead, too.

What is the cause of this waning of men’s love for God? The answer, certainly, is sin. Sin is the dark cloud which does not permit God’s light to reach our eyes.

But sin always did exist. So how did we arrive at the point of not simply ignoring God, but of actually hating Him? Man’s attitude toward God today is not really ignorance, or really indifference. If you examine men carefully you will notice that their ignorance or indifference is tainted by a deep hate. But nobody hates anything that does not exist.

I have the suspicion that men today believe in God more than at any other time in human history. Men know the gospel, the teaching of the Church, and God’s creation better than at any other time. They have a profound consciousness of His existence. Their atheism is not a real disbelief. It is rather an aversion toward somebody we know very well but whom we hate with all our heart, exactly as the demons do.

We hate God, that is why we ignore Him, overlooking Him as if we did not see Him, and pretending to be atheists. In reality we consider Him our enemy par excellence. Our negation is our vengeance, our atheism is our revenge.

But why do men hate God? They hate Him not only because their deeds are dark while God is light, but also because they consider Him as a menace, as an imminent and eternal danger, as an adversary in court, as an opponent at law, as a public prosecutor and an eternal persecutor. To them, God is no more the almighty physician who came to save them from illness and death, but rather a cruel judge and a vengeful inquisitor.

You see, the devil managed to make men believe that God does not really love us, that He really only loves Himself, and that He accepts us only if we behave as He wants us to behave; that He hates us if we do not behave as He ordered us to behave, and is offended by our insubordination to such a degree that we must pay for it by eternal tortures, created by Him for that purpose. Who can love a torturer? Even those who try hard to save themselves from the wrath of God cannot really love Him. They love only themselves, trying to escape God’s vengeance and to achieve eternal bliss by managing to please this fearsome and extremely dangerous Creator. Do you perceive the devil’s slander of our all-loving, all-kind, and absolutely good God? That is why in Greek the devil was given the name of diabolos, “the slanderer.”

How Simple Should Christianity Be?

August 28, 2008

There is a tendency in our modern world to make things as simple as possible. We hide the complexities behind a keyboard (I don’t know how my computer works – or not very well) or we treat things that seem complex as unnecessary obfuscations. This same drive to simplify was very much alive in the 16th century as Christianity underwent reform in many places of the world.

Thomas Cranmer, the English Reformer, railed against the complexity of the service books required for a Roman Catholic Mass and managed to bring everything down to one small book. Every service required by a cleric could be found in the one Prayer Book, which also contained the book of Psalms.

Cranmer’s work was often outdone in other places – some eventually discarding the use of any book but the Bible. Following Martin Luther’s lead, the Scriptures themselves were limited to 66 books (discarding those Old Testament books which did not have a Hebrew original – the so-called “Apocrypha”).

This, of course, is not all of the story of the Reform. At the same time that services were being simplified, there were massive productions of new commentaries and works of theology. Thus there was both a simplification and a new layer of complexity.

As centuries have gone on, the drive to simplify has not disappeared. Frontier preaching in America had little place for complexity and the proclamation of the gospel became quite straight-forward indeed.  A common tool in use throughout various religious movements in post-Guttenburg Europe, was the religious tract. Produced by the thousands and millions, these small summaries of the faith or of a point of doctrine were spread throughout homes and the streets and occasionally played important religious roles in religious movements (I’m not sure how much they do today).

How simple should Christianity be? Should it be reduceable to four spiritual laws or summarized in a paragraph or two? Is John 3:16 the perfect summary of the perfect faith? If you were shipwrecked on an island and could only have one chapter of Scripture, what would you keep?

I would like to suggest several principles that might be of help in thinking about such things.

1. Christianity is not an idea.

2. Christianity is not part of the religious annex of planet earth.

3. Reality cannot be simplified.

On the first point – Christianity is not an idea. I could say that it is also not a philosophy. It is a faith about how things (all things) are and Who God is, and what God has to do with us (or us with Him). It is thus a full account of reality, even though much of that account may remain unspoken. Christianity is either everything or it is nothing.

This leads easily to my second point. Christianity is not part of the religious annex of planet earth – that is, it is not a subset or comparment of something else. Since it is the fullness of reality in its truth – there is not a larger fullness (other than God) in which it may be contained.

My third point – reality cannot be simplied – may sound obvious – but we frequently live in simplified, digitzed, simulacra of the world itself. Given the choice between life on earth as we know it, and life in a holo-deck as pictured in the Star Trek movies and series – many people would gladly choose the holo-deck, some already opting for its current low-tech version in various games and such.

The invitation to another human being to embrace Christ as Lord, God and Savior is thus an invitation not to a religious hobby, but to the truth of the world as it is and as it shall be. Christ reveals reality in its fullness. Thus Christianity can never properly be a diminishing of human life.

It is interesting to me, having spent the last 10 years of my life (and a little more) as an Orthodox Christian missionary in the American South (or one small corner of it) to note how much I have learned in those 10 years – far more than I knew when I started. For one, I am not in a hurry. An invitation to reality (which is the essence of Catechesis) is rarely something you can do in a single moment (with apologies to the good thief who was far more worthy than I to be saved). Catechesis is the invitation “to put your hand to the plow and not turn back.” It is an invitation to a fullness that cannot be contained and yet is placed in our mouths at communion. It is a fullness that has birthed cultures and sustained hermits. It is the fullness that brought the whole of the universe into existence and towards which the entire universe is being gathered.

Shame on us for ever having diminished the faith – for reducing it to something less than all that is (and more). Shame on those who would remove whole elements of reality (the saints, the angels, etc.) for a simplified world. Great art Thou, O Lord, and marvelous are Thy works! There is no word to hymn Thy wonders!

He Shall Exalt the Humble and Meek

August 27, 2008

All heaven and earth exalt the humble Saints, and the Lord grants them the glory of being with Him. ‘Where I am, there shall also my servant be.’

The humility of the Mother of God is greater than any, wherefore all generations on earth exalt her, and all the heavenly hosts serve her; and this His Mother the Lord has given us to intercede for us and be our help.

There is no better way than to live in humility and love. The soul then knows a great peace within her, and will not set herself above her neighbor. If we love our enemies, there will be no place in our souls for pride, for in Christ-like love no one ranks above another. Pride like a burning fire consumes all that is good, whereas the humility of Christ passes description and is sweet. Did men but know this, the whole world would be apprenticed to this science. Day and night, all my life long, have I striven after humility, yet am I not able to prevail. My soul ever reflects: I have not attained to that which I desire, I cannot rest, but I humbly entreat you, brethren, you who know the love of Christ – pray for me, that I may be delivered from the spirit of pride, that the humility of Christ take up her abode in me.

St. Silouan in St. Silouan the Athonite

I often wonder when discussion reaches towards the Mother of God and becomes contentious – whether those who are uncomfortable with her veneration by Orthodox Christians have not become enmeshed in the “idea” of the Mother of God, rather than looking directly at her. For many, she remains a collection of verses in the Scripture, a cypher to be debated. What is lacking in this is the utter and complete depth of her humility that resides in her personally. To look at her is to blush – because we ourselves are so full of pride yet she whom God has exalted, remains so utterly and completely humble. She abides in the humility of Christ which was manifested in her even at the high greeting of an angel.

Those who fear her veneration do not see the person who is the recipient of that veneration – or they would see the vast humility that so far from vaunting itself against God, instead eternally cries, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to Thy word!”

How can Christians who have actually gazed upon the reality that is the Mother of God not love her and give her honor – an honor that flows into the vast expanse of her humility before God? Woe to those who accuse the Orthodox of giving to her an honor that belongs to God! Her own humility rebukes such honor!

Instead, she beckons us, fearful humans as we are, to walk the humble path she trod to the Cross, and to stand by the crucified Lord, able to hear His wondrous words from the Cross. So many love His words – but to whom were they spoken? Who was it that bore witness? Perhaps John or Mary Magdalene, but surely His own mother who did not abandon Him, whose own soul was pierced by a sword also. Who else would have understood His words as she did and does?

God grant us grace to lift our gaze towards the heights of humility and not just our arguments, so devoid of reason. God grant us grace to call blessed she whom He has blessed.

Prayers by the Lake – XIX – by St. Nikolai of Zicha

August 26, 2008


Amidst the racket and ridicule of people my prayer rises toward You, O my King and my Kingdom. Prayer is incense, that ceaselessly censes my soul and raises it toward You, and draws You toward her.

Stoop down, my King, so that I may whisper to You my most precious secret, my most secret prayer, my most prayerful desire. You are the object of all my prayers, all my searching. I seek nothing except You, truly, only You.

What could I seek from You, that would not separate me from You? Should I seek to be Lord over a few stars, instead of reigning as Lord with You over all the stars?

Should I seek to be first among men? How shameful it would be fore me, when You would seat me at the last place at Your table!1

Should I seek for millions of human mouths to praise me? How horrible it would be for me, when all those mouths are filled with earth.2

Should I seek to be surrounded by the most precious ob¬jects from the entire world? How humiliating it would be for me for those objects to outlast me and be glistening even as earthen darkness fills my eyes!3

Should I seek for You not to separate me from my friends? Ah separate me, O Lord, separate me from my friends as soon as possible, because they are the thickest wall between You and me.

“Why should we pray,” say my neighbors, “when God does not hear our prayers?” But I say to them: “Your prayer is not prayer, but peddling merchandise. You do not pray to God to give you God but Satan. Therefore, the Wisdom of heaven does not accept the prayers from your tongue.”

“Why should we pray,” grumble my neighbors, “when God knows what we need beforehand?” But I sadly answer them: “That is true, God knows–that you need nothing except Him alone. At the door of your soul He is waiting to come in.4 Through prayer the doors are opened for the entrance of the majestic King. Does not one of you say to the other at your door: ‘Please enter’?

“God does not seek glory for Himself but for you. All the worlds in the universe can add nothing to His glory, much less can you. Your prayer is a glorification of you, not of God. Fullness and mercy are to be found in Him. All the good words that you direct to Him in prayer, return to you twofold.”

O my illustrious King and my God, to You alone I bow down and pray. Flood into me, as a raging stream into thirsty sand. Just flood me with Yourself, life-giving Water; then grass will easily grow in the sand and white lambs will graze in the grass.

Just flood into my parched soul, my Life and my Salvation.

1. Cf. Luke 14:7-10.
2. Cf. John 12:43.
3. Matt. 6:19-21.
4. Cf. Rev. 3:20.

Truth and Existence: Conclusions to be Drawn

August 26, 2008

Reflecting on the previous posting on Truth and Existence, there are a number of conclusions that can be drawn for our lives and our communion with God:

1. God is generous. He does not begrudge existence to anything that exists. Even the devil is not begrudged his existence.

2. This generosity of God is not an indication of laissez faire, but of love. God has given us existence as a gift, not as a punishment. And He loves even what we cannot bear to love and blesses all with existence.

3. There is a difference between “true existence” and “mere existence.” The first is to exist in communion with God, where our existence is rooted in grounded in the love of God and the love of neighbor. Such an existence is a continual becoming – becoming like God. Mere existence is just that – it is an existence that has severed its own communion with God and seeks to exist apart from God. It “exists” but without foundation and substance. The longer we “merely exist” the less like God we become and instead become more like nothing.

4. Similar to this is the distinction between “objective” existence and “personal” existence. We speak of “objective” and “objectivity” with a certain usefulness within the secular world-view. However, to exist as a mere object is to being moving towards “mere existence.” To regard something or someone as simply an “object,” and no more than an object, and not to regard everyone and everything as properly an event for communion with God, is to reduce others and the world to “mere existence.” Inherently such a reduction takes us with it. Among objects, we become but an object.

5. There is within “mere existence” a necessity which can seem oppressive. The gift of existence is given to us and thus our existence (mere existence) is not a choice. It does not have within it (or so we perceive) the element of freedom. Existence can become a burden and even hateful to some. On the other hand, existence which is embraced as the gift of God and responded to with love and thankfulness, moves from “mere existence” to true and authentic existence, which can only had through freedom and love. Thus the gift of life given to us in Holy Baptism is a gift which must be freely received and responded to in love. In freedom and love our existence moves towards likeness with God – who is truly free and is love.

In Scripture there is a very simple parable that does much to illustrate God’s generosity towards us:

Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, `Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’ He said to them, `An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, `Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, `No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’

The patience of God endures the weeds. The weeds cannot endure the patience of God.

Truth and Existence

August 25, 2008

Perhaps one of the greatest contributions of Orthodox theology to contemporary thought is the correlation between truth and existence. I am not well-enough versed in writings outside of Orthodoxy to know whether this correlation is made by others as well – I have to drink the water from my own cistern.

This understanding has been a particular emphasis in the teachings of St. Silouan, the Elder Sophrony of blessed memory, and the contemporary Archimandrite Zacharias, a disciple of the Elder Sophrony. Their own teaching is nothing new in Orthodoxy, but simply a restatement in modern terms of what has always been the teaching of the Orthodox Christian faith. Indeed, it is a teaching that could be solely supported by Scripture should someone so require.

But the correlation is exceedingly important for religious teaching and understanding. The modern movement of secular thought has been to move existence into an independent and self-defining realm, relegating God and religion to a specialized interest of those who find themselves religiously minded. This is the death of religion – or rather a religion of death. For as soon as our existence is moved away from God and grounded in something else, God Himself has been abandoned. It is not possible for God to be a lesser concern. Either He is the very ground of our existence or He is no God.

There were those within liberal protestantism (Paul Tillich comes to mind) who sought to make the correlation between existence and God – but frequently the result was a God who was reduced to a philosophical cypher (Tillich’s “Ground of Being”) and relieved of all particular content. To speak of God as “Ultimate Concern” as did Tillich, is only to have spoken in human terms. I recall many fellow students in my Anglican seminary years who found Tillich helpful in a way that Jesus was not. The particularity of Jesus made the demands of existential reality too specific. Indeed, it revealed God as God and not simply something that I cared about.

Instead, the Orthodox language on the subject has been that God is truly the ground of all existence, and that apart from Him, everything is moving towards non-existence. It is the Scriptural correlation between sin and death. This shifts the reality of the whole of our lives. Prayer no longer serves as a component of my personal “spirituality,” but is instead communion with the God Who Is, and apart from Whom, I am not. It teaches us to pray as if our lives depended on it – because they do.

By the same token, it moves our understanding of what it means to exist away from mere biology or even philosophy and to its proper place: to exist is to love. As Met. John Zizioulas has famously stated, “Being is communion.” In such a context we are able to move towards authentic existence – a mode of being that is not self-centered nor self-defined, but that is centered in the Other and defined by communion. Sin is removed from its confines of legalism and mere ethics and placed at the very center and character of existence itself. Sin is a movement towards non-being. In contrast, to know God is to love and its greatest test is the love of enemies. As St. Silouan taught: “We only know God to the extent that we love our enemies.”

This is not to reinterpret Christ in terms of existentialism, but instead to understand that Christ is, as He said: the Way, the Truth and the Life. His death and resurrection are the movement of God’s love to rescue humanity from a self-imposed exile from true and authentic existence which is found only in communion with God. This is a rescue of the Atonement from obscure legal theories of Divine Wrath and Judgment, and restores it properly in the context of the God who created us, sustains us, and calls us into the fullness of His life.

It presses the question upon us all: “What is the truth of my existence?” It presses us towards living honestly and forthrightly before God – not finessing ourselves with carefully wrought excuses and religious half-measures – but calling us to a radically authentic search for God.

The Orthodox faith asks nothing less of its adherents. Though even Orthodoxy can be warped into half-measures and religious distractions – this is not its truth nor the life that is taught by the Fathers, the Scriptures nor the words of her liturgies. In God “we live and move and have our being.” There is nothing that can thus be placed outside of God. There is God or there is delusion. And even delusion itself has no existence – but its mere pretence.

Facing the Consequences

August 25, 2008

Some thoughts on a comment by Archbishop DMITRI of Dallas:

Commenting on the stories of the Transfiguration in Matthew, Mark and Luke, Archbishop DMITRI of Dallas observed that each of the stories contains the phrase “coming down” in reference to the disciples’ descent from the mount of glory into the world of daily ministry. In each gospel, he noted, they come down to controversy and difficulties. In drawing a conclusion he stated:

We ourselves are filled with the same glory in the Divine Liturgy. But like the disciples, we have to ‘come down’ and face the consequences of our faith.

The icon of the Transfiguration, like the icon of Pascha and the icon of the Ascension, places Christ in a “parenthetical” position, portrayed in the midst of an artistic figure that is known as a “mandorla.” In the grammar of icons it frames Christ in a moment that is transcendent – a moment that somehow escapes our ability to see clearly or describe. They are moments of Christ revealed in His glory and moments that reveal the fullness of truth that is found in Him.

But the danger for us as believers is to make Christ Himself a “parenthetical” moment in our lives – occasions and encounters marked off from the rest of the day or week – sometimes from the rest of our lives – and kept somewhere under the heading of “religion” or “faith.” This is especially true when faith in Christ becomes a “private” matter – occasionally distorted with the name of “my personal faith.”

Encountering Christ in His glory – whether that of the Transfiguration when we know Him as God – or that of Pascha when we know His glory in the humility of the Cross – or that of the Ascension when we see Him return to the right hand of the Father – however we encounter Christ – there must and should be consequences to our faith.

To live as a faithful believer in this world is an assurance of difficulties. It is the promise of Christ to us:

 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life (Mk. 10:29-30).

And St. Paul:

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12).

There are many who have read the word “persecution” and have thought only of the literal persecution inflicted by a legal authority – which has not been uncommon in the history of Christianity but has not been nearly as universal as the promise. We have to understand persecution in a broader sense – that obedience to the gospel of Christ inherently brings us into conflict with the world, and even with much that is within our own lives. The gospel will have consequences.

I would argue that the gospel not only will have consequences, but that it must have consequences. The very action of its consequences in our lives is part of the saving grace of God working in us the treasure of our salvation.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us (Romans 8:15-18).

Returning to the image given us in the Transfiguration stories – we are shown the way through the “sufferings of this present time.” We must “come down”. That is, we follow Christ on the way of the Cross in which His self-emptying before the sufferings of this world were, in fact, the humility of God, indeed the power of God that is victorious over all things.

May God give us grace to “face the consequences” of the Gospel and to share in His victorious suffering. This same inevitability of suffering also makes it incumbent on the faithful to live in such a way that we can support one another in the sufferings each bears. This is part of the essential life of the Church and perhaps the part that is most often neglected or least developed. It is particularly difficult in the culture of individualism to understand that the sufferings of one are the sufferings of all, just as the joy of one is the joy of all. We are tempted to suffer alone rather that ask for help and we are hesitant to help when we are asked. But the consequences of the gospel would demand both of us – to humble ourselves to receive help and to help others in our humility.

Again – it is what the gospel terms: love.

In the Cleft of the Rock

August 22, 2008

God placed Moses in the “cleft of a rock” and His “glory passed by” and Moses was granted a vision of God. The great protestant hymn, “Rock of Ages, Cleft for me,” makes reference to this story, understanding in proper patristic fashion that the story points to Christ, who is our Rock, standing within Whom we may see the glory of God.

These, of course, are the most wonderful of things. There are other experiences of the Rock, particularly when winds blow strong or storms rage about us. I think of the Orthodox faith as such a Rock. Its doctrine, in the words of the late Fr. Georges Florovsky, is “a verbal icon of Christ.” To stand in the faith while the world continues to either forget or morph the essentials of Christian doctrine is indeed a place of safety. But the Orthodox faith, though stated in Creeds and Conciliar Decrees and the Canons and Liturgies of the Church, would be only words were they not somewhere lived and embodied. The Body of Christ, after all, is composed of living believers.

I am hosting a visit from my Archbishop, DMITRI, of Dallas and the South, this weekend. Having already spent an afternoon and evening with him, I am reminded of the living Rock of the faith that God places in the midst of our lives. No man, no Bishop, is what we may attribute to God alone. And yet, St. Ignatius of Antioch taught, “Where the Bishop is, there also is Christ.” A man may fail to embody that charism identified by St. Ignatius – but this has not been my experience of my Archbishop.

Tonight, at the end of Vespers, he addressed the assembled faithful with simple words of faith – of the constancy of God and the unrelenting attacks the Church endures from the adversary (both from within the Church and from without). And he stood as a rock, reminding us that such has always been the case and will always be the case so long as the Church is in this world. He made no suggestions that we avoid accountability or any such thing – but encouraged us that regardless of events to remain faithful to Christ and not to lose heart.

These were words from one of the rocks God has placed in the Church – a rock because he stands in The Rock and will not turn aside. I have no naivete about the humanity and failings of any Bishop or Priest. I know myself too well and have seen too much to profess such innocence. But I have also seen the charism of ordination and the truth of the gift of God. And I know what it is to stand in the presence of a Bishop whose faith challenges and bolsters my own. Such was the rock with whom I have spent the day and with whom I will share the next two days.

O Lord, let me hide myself in Thee.