The preparation for the youth conference is now in full swing. What awaits its participants? The Deputy Chairman of the Synodal Youth Department and the President of Prince Vladimir Youth Association, Archpriest Andrei Sommer, tells us.
Before my ordination I told him, “Vladyka, I want to warn you that if you ordain me, my heart will stay in my native country, and when I retire from my secular work, I will return to Puerto Rico. If you want to keep me in the United States, don’t ordain me.”
I couldn’t fully understand intellectually what was happening. I had never seen anything like it, but it left a deep and lasting impression on me, as if I had found what I had been looking for all along.
And today, when I served the Liturgy on our parish land for the first time, I realized how important it is to do Church work under obedience. After all, then everything is done by the Lord, and I am but an instrument in His hands, and my work is to remain a worthy Christian and His co-laborer.
We were sitting on our boxes, with people gathering around us. Mother began to weep loudly. A plump Italian woman came up to her, hugged her, gave her a plastic rose and said that we would like it in America and everything would be fine.
How did you become so dear to us, Vladyka? Certainly, it wasn’t your rank as a metropolitan, but rather that, without your title, the white klobuk and panagia, you were like a father who taught his flock to stay away from lies, phariseeism, deceit, empty talk, betrayal, faintheartedness and idleness. You taught us to be sincere, honest, kind, and, above all, wise; to help our neighbor whenever possible, and to cherish every minute of our lives and fill them with good deeds.
Vladyka never forced anyone to do good deeds. He was a good shepherd. His spiritual children had a list of needy residents of the northern capital and Moscow whom he helped from time to time. Vladyka tried to help anyone who needed assistance.
“We are not a museum showpiece in the modern world. The way we serve is our means of communicating with God. We use English instead of Slavonic, and that is also part of the means of communicating with God.”
In any case, if some of you think that L.A. is famous only for its film studios and actors that you are bound to meet at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, I have a good news for you: This city is also famous for its rich Christian heritage, represented by various Orthodox jurisdictions and traditions.
An American who had learned Russian, in 1989 Fr. Daniel McKenzie became the rector of the Russian church and he has given spiritual guidance to the Russian Orthodox flock for about thirty years since then.
I spent my entire life charged with various duties, and I was surprised, especially in the early days of my appointment, that I needed to be honored by other clergymen and laity, and that some felt fear at the presence of a bishop. So becoming a bishop was a revelation to me, and I had to adjust to this way of life.
I stood at one side and marveled at the mosaic shining in the sunlight, the tile-work of the church rising to the sky… St John the Baptist Cathedral in America’s capital was built in the Muscovite-Yaroslavl style of the 17th century, like a carved statuette sitting in the palm of one’s hand. There are only a handful of such churches in Orthodox America. How is it that a church devoted to such a sad event came to be in this intellectual, refined city of Washington?
Once again it’s fall in New York – warm but fresh after the exhausting summer heat. The blue sky pierced by the spire of the new World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. And…an aching feeling in your heart. Ask the locals and you will find that this feeling is familiar to many people in New York. It can’t be forgotten, it can’t be erased from their memory.
As a vicar bishop, I cannot avoid dealing with matters involving youth: to hold divine services and participate in Orthodox youth conferences, give lectures and lead meetings and spiritual discussions. These are all the most common types of missionary events in our diocese.
Many years for His Holiness the Patriarch! Then we went to another room to meet with the Patriarch. We gave the Primate of our Church a large leather-bound album with photographs showing some moments from our pilgrimages and the work our youth has done in renovating holy sites in Russia and abroad. We saw right away that he was genuinely interested in the photographs and the work of our youth. As we approached to receive the Patriarch’s blessing, each of us received a Christmas present and an icon of the Nativity of Christ. We took a photograph together with His Holiness for posterity.
This icon is the contemporary work of Sofrino craftsmen. It is an ordinary lithograph. It had been in the apartment of Muscovite Margarita Vorobyova, where it began to gush myrrh. This happened in 1998, after it had been placed on the relics of the blessed Matrona of Moscow, during her glorification on the 2nd of May. After some time, the icon was miraculously transformed, and now many who have seen it cannot tell that it is a lithograph and not an icon painted long ago.