Welcome to Saint Herman's, Hudson, Ohio

This blog is a partial compilation of the messages, texts, readings, and prayers from our small mission community. We pray that it will be used by our own people, to their edification. And if you happen by and are inclined to read, give the glory to God!

The blog title, "Will He Find Faith on the Earth?" is from Luke 18:8, the "Parable of the Persistent Widow." It overlays the icon of the Last Judgment, an historical event detailed in Matthew Chapter 25, for which we wait as we pray in the Nicean Creed.

We serve the Holy Orthodox cycle of services in contemporary English. Under the omophorion of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Bulgarian Patriarchal Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia, we worship at 5107 Darrow Road in Hudson, Ohio (44236). If you are in the area, please join us for worship!

Regular services include:
Sunday Divine Liturgy 10AM (Sept 1 - May 31)
930AM (June 1 - Aug 31)
Vespers each Saturday 6PM

We pray that you might join us for as many of these services as possible!

Monday, September 24, 2012

A "Birthday" of Sorts

We would be remiss if we did not recognize this date as a "birthday".

At Saint Herman's in Hudson, we have a kind of "portable mentality".  Our building is rented space inside the city cemetery, and so we need to "tear down" our worship facility periodically (when the city arranges for the building to be used by others).  We are therefore not permitted to have any permanent signage outside the building, and so we have portable placards.

I mention these because they proclaim boldly the continuous pattern of Orthodox worship in this continent since 1794.  And thus, the 'birthday'.

It was on this day, 24September1794 that a missionary group from Russia landed in Alaska.  The group, which included one archimandrite, three priestmonks, one deacon monk, and one lay monk, departed from St. Petersburg on 21Dec1793.  They traveled 7300 miles in 293 days (25 miles per day).

The monks, as they arrived, had great compassion for the natives, who had been exploited by their countrymen who came to this region to trade in fur.

From the OCA web site (http://oca.org/history-archives/orthodox-christians-na/chapter-1), the following account of our own beloved Patron Saint Herman can be found:


The more general success of the Alaskan mission can be explained only by the heroic efforts of the missionaries in defending the Alaskans from Baranov and his henchmen, as well as by the missionaries’ sensitive approach to the pre-Christian spirituality of the Aleuts. The Russian monks presented Orthodox Christianity not as the abolition, but as the fulfillment, of the Aleut’s ancient religious heritage. Most persuasively, the personal example of the monk Herman provided the natives with tangible evidence that the Gospel, when embraced with full dedication and commitment, produced God-like men.
To avoid harassment (and possible assassination at the hands of Baranov’s men), the monk Herman left Kodiak sometime between 1808-1818, and relocated to Spruce Island, three miles to the north. He named his small hermitage “New Valaam,” in honor of his former monastery, from earlier generations of Orthodox monks had set out to evangelize Karelian, Lapp, and Finnish tribespeople. At New Valaam, Herman spent the rest of his life teaching the Aleuts, nursing the sick, raising orphans, praying, and working miracles. Most importantly, through his kindness, compassion and personal holiness, Herman exemplified an ideal Christian life. The last surviving member of the original mission, Herman died in 1837. His remains repose in Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Kodiak. The Aleuts never forgot the humble monk nor his legacy of prayer and deeds. Largely at their insistence, Herman was canonized in 1970 by the Orthodox Church in America as the first Orthodox saint America.
Through the prayers of Saint Herman of Alaska, Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and save us!  Amen!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Darkness and the Light of the Cross

Our world is a dangerous place.

There is (at least in the distorted memories of some of us) a recollection of a time when that danger was 'focused'.  Some of us grew up in the era when we were worried (perhaps consumed is a better description) about global nuclear destruction.  We participated in "drills" in our grade schools, climbing into interior rooms, being taught to crouch beneath strong tables - as if that were going to save us from a nuclear blast....

Today, the enemy is less focused.  He comes from a myriad of directions.  We have drug deals going down in the neighborhoods that surround us.  You can search on-line to find the meth-labs which have most recently been closed down - in your own neighborhood.  We have gangs in our cities, extremists in our towns, and polarization of our society to such an extent that we often feel that there are no people who share most of what we hold as truth in common with us.  We have wars which our military is fighting on more fronts than we knew existed 50 years ago.  We have ambassadors being murdered by "friends", political "allies" who are working against us, and partners whom we are disavowing.

Darkness seems to be everywhere.

Jesus taught about "darkness".  Among the things He left us as instruction are:

"The lamp of the body is the eye.  Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light.  But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.  Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness." (Luke 11:34-35)

The importance of this instruction is borne witness to in the Gospel of Saint John:

"In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men.  And the Light shines in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." (John 1:4-5)

The Saints and the Holy Fathers have written gloriously of the Cross and its meaning to us.  Far be it from this sinful and humble priest to attempt to enhance that which they have already accomplished.  So, let us go to their writings for wisdom into this issue.

From Saint Ephraim the Syrian:  "The Cross abolished idolatrous adulation, enlightened the whole universe, gathered all the nations into one Church and united them with love...  The Cross is Light for those sitting in darkness....  Therefore on the forehead, and on the eyes, and on the mouth, and on the breasts let us place the life-giving Cross. Let us arm them with the invincible armor of Christians, with this hope of the faithful, with this gentle light."

From Vespers of the Feast:  "Shine, Cross of the Lord!  Shine with the Light of your grace upon those who honor You."

Given Saint John the Theologian's witness to the Light of Christ above, we can look to the instruction of Saint John of Kronstadt:  "Why do we honor the Cross wit such reverence that we make mention of its power in our prayers after asking  for the intercession of the Mother of God and the Heavenly Powers, before askin gfor that of the Saints, and sometimes even before asking for that of the Heavenly Powers?  Because after the Savior's sufferings, the Cross became the sign of the Son of Man, that is, the Cross signifies the Lord Himself, incarnate and suffering for our salvation."

And so, the Cross which we honor on this day carries with it the Light of the Word, the ability to bring to light that which is in darkness.

One can enter a dark room with a single candle, and the light of that candle will fill the room.  One cannot enter a room filled with light with any source of darkness and overcome the light with that darkness.  Light defeats darkness.

In a world rushing headlong towards darkness, it is we who carry upon our breasts the Cross of Christ.  We carry Him in our hearts.  He is present within us through the Holy Eucharist.  His light enters all places where we may go, so long as we allow Him to shine forth, and not to cover His light with that basket of our humanity, our sins, our own darkness.

The Lord's words above from Saint Luke instruct us in exactly this point.  We have "an eye" - it is not the physical eye which sends signals to our brain to keep us from stubbing our toes on things before us.  It is the eye of our spirits, which illumines our way in all truth, which shines to show us that which will preserve us from falling not into a physical pit, but from falling into evil.  It is this light that our spiritual eye must perceive. If that spiritual eye is "bad", we truly will be filled with spiritual darkness.  And like those spoken of by Saint John the Theologian, we may have that Light shining brightly around us, but how will we comprehend it?

The Cross is our key.  It is all that the Holy Fathers and the Saints have described from the beginning of the Church, and more.  On this day, as we elevate and exult it ourselves, let us bask in its light, and so be illumined, set ablaze by it, so that the Light of Christ may truly illumine all.