Welcome to Saint Herman's, Hudson, Ohio

This blog is a partial compilation of the messages, texts, readings, and prayers from our small 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! We are open, and we welcome inside the Church all visitors. See our Parish web page:

Monday, October 31, 2022


It’s a topic we don’t like to deal with.  Our perspective is typically one that rejects suffering as having any relation with spiritual healing, let alone viewing suffering as a blessing.

suf-er-ing: n; bearing pain, distress, or injury.

Each of us must endure suffering at some time during our lives.  Suffering can be focused on self (where the hurt is directly inflicted upon us), or it can be associated with others (loved ones afflicted, and we share in their suffering).  Regardless, it happens.  We live in a fallen world, and until Christ returns and perfection reigns again, suffering will remain.

There’s a wonderful little book entitled “The Meaning of Suffering and Strife and Reconciliation” written by Archimandrite Seraphim Alexiev.  He begins the book with Scripture:

My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of His correction; for whom the Lord loves, He chastens; and scourges every son whom He receives. (Prov 3:11-12 and Heb 12:6)

From this beginning Fr. Seraphim teaches God’s intention for His creation—mankind.  He asks, “Where do we see man for the first time?  In Paradise!... Man was intended for Paradise, and not for hell.” 

Indeed, the Lord permits suffering to come upon us to help us find our way towards Him, seeking His help in enduring and/or overcoming the adversity brought about by suffering.

In our readings for Adult Study this past week, St. John Chrysostom teaches that adversity and suffering help us to focus our spiritual efforts on seeking the good.  He says in part this:

An eye was given in order that you may behold the creation and glorify the Master.  If you do not use the eye well, it becomes to you the minister of adultery.  A tongue was given that you might speak well and praise the Creator.  If you are heedless, it becomes a cause of blasphemy.  Hands were given to stretch forth in prayer, but if you are not wary, to stretch them out to covetousness…. Do you see that all things hurt the weak man?

Adversity, suffering do not need to sap our spiritual strength.  As St. John points out, they WILL do so if our focus is to blame, to make excuse, to ask God “Why me?” instead of laboring to overcome by seeking His divine help to strengthen us, to bless us to overcome our weaknesses.

In today’s Gospel reading, poor Legion is a man who suffers greatly.  Is he weak in suffering?  Those around him tried to hold him fast with chains and fetters, but he broke free of them.  His suffering was not manifested in physical weakness.  He suffered from spiritual warfare, demons too many in number for his human spirit to overcome them without the help of God!  Only when Jesus comes does his life change.  St. Luke records that Legion fell down before (Jesus).  The Gospel of St. Mark is more detailed than this, saying When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshipped Him.  The man’s spirit was not dead—it was constrained by the demons.  But Legion did not allow his suffering to overcome his desire for deliverance, and for ultimate salvation.

We should recall the words of St. Paul as he wrote, We glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character, and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit Who was given to us. (Rom 5:3-5)

Lord, allow the sufferings we are called to endure to produce within us such character and hope that through all of them, we give glory to You Who loves us!

Monday, October 24, 2022

The True Meaning of "Memory Eternal"

 In today’s Gospel reading (Luke 16:19-31), we encounter the only scriptural reference to parable of Lazarus and the rich man.  It is not to be found in the Gospels of Sts. Matthew or Mark. 

It is ultimately a parable that displays openly how human selfishness causes our inhumanity.

The thing to focus on initially is the similarity of “the rich man” to the average person on the street today (meaning me…).  He is not shown by our Lord’s words to be evil.  We don’t know that he had any ‘enemies’ to speak of.  What he had was more than necessary to serve his own needs.  He had been blessed by God such that he had more than ample provisions.  St. Luke’s recounting of our Lord’s words say that the man “was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day.”  The Greek word translated as ‘sumptuously’ carries a meaning of ‘in luxury’.  The imagery our Lord’s words impart is that the man lived as many in the world around us do in our own time.  Caviar and champagne are not luxuries, they are necessities to some.  And it is not adequate to wear a shirt.  It must carry an emblem that causes it to retail at 20-50 times the price of what might be considered ‘normal.’  We know the categories of people being referenced here in the world around us.

But we’re also surrounded with people like poor Lazarus. 

If one looks at statistics about hunger throughout the world, you’ll find such items as this:  For the poorest 10% of the world’s population, the average daily food consumption is less than 1400 kcal/day; For the richest 10% of the world’s population, the average daily food consumption is more than 3800 kcal/day.  The conclusion?  The rich eat 2.7 times more than the poor.  One ‘expert’ report we read suggested that it would take about $13 billion to ‘solve’ world hunger—not just for one time to give the hungry food, but to adjust agricultural and economic conditions so that these people could sustain themselves from that time forward.  Think of it.  $13 billion.  Is the figure believable?  Even if it's off by a factor of 10:1, so what?  Our government frivolously spent dozens of times that amount on something they called “stimulus”!  Can we not see that we, as a people, are behaving like the parable’s rich man, and the world around us is poor Lazarus?

And truth be told, if we’re looking to compare ourselves with either of the people in the parable, we’re without doubt the rich man.

This same survey can be found on a website called worldhunger.fund.  If one studies their statistics only superficially, you’ll find that Americans spend an average of 7% of their average $53k income on food.  That means that 93% of all income is spent on ‘other’.  On the same chart if one looks at the people of Haiti, for instance, they spend 50% of their average $1k income on food.  We spend $3700 on food, they $500, in a year.

Speaking societally, we walk past poor Lazarus every day without sharing from the bounty God has given us.

“Father, what can WE as individuals do about this?”  The answer is, “Do what we can.”  Speak out publicly for those programs which benefit those in the greatest need.  Speak against programs which feed more to those who already have.  Make this real in our own lives by doing what our Lord has already commanded us to do—to care for the least of His brethren, to love those who are our enemies, to build and not tear down, to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” (Mat 6:23)

We don’t have to become Lazarus to find God’s favor.  We just need to become far less like the rich man.  We need to care for others.  We need to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Lazarus’ name is known to us because he within the Parable found favor with God, Who knew him by name.  This is the meaning of "Memory eternal", to be known by name to God.  The path to salvation is to be one of His sheep, known to Him - by name.

Monday, October 17, 2022

That Seeing, They May Not See

  We believe that we are an intelligent people.  We certainly know that there are others who are smarter than we are, but for the most part we consider ourselves to be “above the norm.”

And so, when new thoughts, ideas, concepts are presented to us, we again think ourselves able to judge good from bad, right from wrong.

In today’s Gospel (Luke 8:5-15) our Lord presents “the Parable of the Sower.”  With our ‘experience’ in hearing this so many times before, we have the understanding that the Apostles didn’t have, a lack of understanding that forced them to ask the Lord, “What does this parable mean?”

Given their question, we should NOT jump to a conclusion that we are above the Apostles’ level of understanding!

But let’s break down the Lord’s answer to them about the parable’s meaning.

Jesus says, “The seed is the word of God.”  And so in our lack of humility we say to ourselves, “OK—got it!  You (Jesus) are the Sower, and You are spreading the word of God.  That’s really a pretty simple concept.”

And in so thinking, we place ourselves amongst the group that really doesn’t understand!  How so?

The seed is the word of God.  It’s presented with a lower case “w” - word.  But our Lord is the Word of God.  His personification is that which delivers the Word of God to His creation.  And so in a very special way, the ‘seed’ is the Word, the ‘seed’ is Jesus Himself being spread to the world.

But it goes deeper than even this.  For what IS ‘seed’?

In the parable, we come to understand that this seed is expected by the Sower to take root and to grow, to bear fruit.  What is this fruit?  From a simplistic perspective one might conclude that it is a source of multiplication, to produce more seed, more fruit.  And there’s nothing wrong with that perspective.

But IF the seed that is being planted is the Word, then what is being planted is Christ Himself.  It is He Who is placing Himself into the soil, that is our soul, and giving us what is required to allow Him to grow within us.

Which brings us to the root (no pun intended) of the parable.  Our hearts, our intellects, our spirits are the soil into which the Word, the Seed, is being sown.

The Parable’s ‘teaching moment’ is one that never ends.  It continuously asks each of us the question, “How’s YOUR dirt today?”  You see, the Word never stops coming upon us.  The Word is sewn as seed to us by our reading Scripture, by our studying the Holy Fathers, by our encountering beggars in the streets, by our favorably responding to pleas for financial support for worthy causes, by our being placed into situations where we feel the call to stand up and speak for the truth.

The extent to which “our dirt” is aligned with the Parable’s “good ground” can be measured by our responses to these (and many other) situations.

The Parable of the Sower presents four (4) places into which the Sower allowed seed to fall.  Only one of those four is favorable.  Three of the four are failures.  We will recall our Lord’s words from Mat 22:14—”For many are called, but few are chosen.”  Is MY dirt the one that bears fruit?

Do we REALLY see yet?  Time runs short!

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Honor the Sheepdog

Today let us speak to the issues plaguing our country with respect to war, violence, and the people who have the integrity and drive to attempt to protect us.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we find ourselves beset with concerns about how things are going.  It prompts anxiety, fear, a sense of having no where to turn for safety.

There’s a young mother who once told this story.  “It was one of the worst days of my life.  The washing machine broke.  The telephone was repeatedly ringing from bill collectors.  I had a headache.  When I opened the mailbox I found more bills, all of this with a bank account that was empty.  At the breaking point, I lifted my one-year-old son into his high chair to feed him, but could only muster the strength to lay my head onto his tray, where I began to cry.  Without a sound, my son took the pacifier from his mouth and gently pushed it into mine…”

You see, we all need others to help us!  They just have to be the kind of people motivated by God to live as helpers.

I don’t know how many of you have spent time away from home – I’m sure most of us have.  But I mean time really away – not a two-hour drive, not a phone call away, but away – in a place where you can’t reach your loved ones, a place from which you can only hold onto your hopes and prayers that God will allow you to be restored to your family when the time comes.  I offer these thoughts not from the perspective of a soldier who has spent time in the trenches.  Rather, my own frame of reference comes from being sent for several weeks (only) to places that are halfway around the world.  And I can tell you that while in such a place, there is apprehension.  Prayers are offered to keep the world safe until one can, by God’s grace, be returned and reunited with family.  The things that go through the mind are terrible.  What if there were to be another terror attack?  What if situations were to deteriorate rapidly because of some lunatic holding a nuclear button in Iran or Pakistan or Russia?  What if?  And the ‘what if”s’ lead to worry, concern, and if truth be told, sometimes even a sense of fear – fear of the evil that’s in the world, the evil against which we have as a defense only our prayers. 

We must wonder if those same sensations are what become part of the daily life of someone in the military who has committed to a full year away, not only in a foreign land, but in a land where there are people who are indeed daily trying to kill you, to send you home in such a way that your only hope of seeing your loved ones again is in the Resurrection.  How much more amplified must their feelings be, their worries, their concerns, their fears?

And yet we, as Americans, have young men and women (some of us here have relatives or friends who fall into this category) who willingly volunteer to go, to endure these things.  They are God-appointed “helpers”.  Why?  Why would anyone elect to place himself or herself into such troubled surroundings for such a long time?  We, of course, pray for the peace of the world.  And our prayers do help to preserve that peace.  But ultimately, sometimes, even though we might pray and choose otherwise, we as a people must engage in battles, in warfare, in the taking of lives to defend our country.  Every time it happens, it brings about a polarization of our society – those opposed to killing and war at any cost, and those who support defending our interests for the sake of preserving our “way of life.”  Even this last statement, “preserving our way of life”, is offensive to some of our own people, who would argue that this way of life is not worth preserving at the expense of taking the lives of others whom they would describe as innocent.

So, where is truth?  What is right?  What should we, as Orthodox Christians, pray for?  Should we pray for victory of our troops?  Should we pray for an end to all war?  Before we try to answer these valid and important questions, let me share with you some excerpts from a book titled “Sheepdogs” written by Colonel Dave Grossman, who is a former Army Ranger/paratrooper, and a West Point graduate.  He is considered by many to be one of the world’s foremost experts on human aggression and the psychology of combat.  The book is filled with a wealth of insight into human perception, human reaction, and I believe our own necessary response to threatening situations.

The beginning premise is that most of us are sheep – kind, gentle, and we only hurt one another by accident.  He justifies this conclusion by referencing the murder rate at 6 per 100,000 per year, and the assault rate as 4 per 1000 per year, indicating that the vast majority of us are not inclined to hurt one another.  He solidifies his position with the statistic that 2 million Americans are victims of some kind of violent crime each year – a number which should trouble us – but there are over 300 million of us.  In short, within our society, violence is rare amongst the sheep.

By designating us as sheep, no negative connotation is intended.  Colonel Grossman says that the sheep need to be viewed like a pretty blue robin’s egg.  The inside is soft and fertile and some day it will grow into something wonderful.  But the egg cannot survive without that hard, blue shell.  The shell is the egg’s security in a dangerous world.  For us sheep, that shell is our police, fire, and military personnel.  Those who would destroy the egg and eat the contents are the wolves.  The shell is the sheepdog.

Colonel Grossman describes himself as one of the sheepdogs.  His definition says that he lives to protect the flock and to confront the wolf.  He cites a sign from a police station which reads, “We intimidate those who intimidate others.”

So, if you have no capacity for violence, you’re a sheep.  If you have a certain capacity for violence, but absolutely no concern for your fellow citizens, you’re a wolf.  If you have a capacity for violence and a love for your fellow citizens, you’re a sheepdog.  He says that “Warriors have been given the gift of aggression,” but that they would no more misuse this gift than a doctor would misuse his or her gift of healing.  Still, the warriors, the sheepdogs, accept a mantle to use their gift to help others.

As Colonel Grossman teaches people these concepts, some of them police and military personnel, his students are stunned to find within his words an explanation for why they feel what they feel.  We, too, as the sheep, should listen to what he explains next to help us understand our own reactions to conflict in the world.

Colonel Grossman says that sheep live in denial – it’s what makes us sheep.  We don’t want to believe that there is evil in the world, or if it’s there, we don’t want to believe that our simply being sheep will lead the evil to us!  We know that fires happen, and so we keep extinguishers in our homes, sprinklers in our offices, alarms in our schools, strategic exit points in all of them.  We protect the schools against fire, but we’re appalled at the idea of having an armed officer in the school.  And all of this remains true even though statistics show that children in schools are 10 times more likely to be killed, and thousands of times more likely to be seriously injured, by school violence than school fires.  The sheep’s response is denial.

And worse, we really don’t like the sheepdogs.  To us, they look a lot like wolves – having the capacity for violence.  Even though a sheepdog is trained to never harm the sheep, we still lack full trust.  The sheepdog is a reminder that wolves are about.  We’d prefer that the sheepdogs not tell us where to go, not dole out traffic tickets, not stand at the airport with an automatic weapon in hand, not be stationed at schools.  We’d much rather the sheepdog just cover his fangs, paint himself fluffy white, and go “Baaaaaa”.

At least, that’s our perspective until a wolf arrives.  Then, the entire flock tries to hide behind any available sheepdog.  Only then do we hear the word “Hero” applied to such people.  During the 9/11 attacks, on Flight 93 over Shanksville, PA many sheep became sheepdogs, and many sheepdogs became heroes!  There is nothing morally superior about sheepdogs.  They are who they are.  They bark at things that make noise, and are unafraid, and perhaps better said, "willing", to engage in a righteous confrontation. When confrontation happens, the sheepdog will survive in cases where most sheep would not.  But more importantly, the sheepdog attempts to deliver sheep from peril.

Now, if you buy the idea that we are in fact the sheep we’ve described, we need to ask ourselves how important the sheepdog is to us.  In the world today, many are attempting to muzzle the sheepdog, to remove us as a nation from worldwide conflict, to defund their righteous purpose within this society.  Perhaps this is a wise move.  Perhaps it is foolhardy.  I have my own opinions, and this homily is not attempting to sway yours. 

But what IS foolhardy is wishing ill upon the sheepdog, taking actions which put the sheepdog in needless jeopardy, and indeed, not supporting with letters and words of thanks, not praying for the sheepdog, not caring for him or her and doing that which helps the sheepdog remain vigilant.  The sheepdog doesn’t live for accolades.  But comforting and consoling the sheepdog between skirmishes with the wolves can only help strengthen him or her for the next wolf they need to engage.

If we must go to battle, God bless those who are moved to volunteer to serve us!  We still pray for peace, but if we are honest sheep, we know the world is still full of wolves.  So pray – and pray diligently – for those of our nation who serve as soldiers, sailors, pilots, police and firemen, doctors, nurses, school crossing guards – you know who such servants are.  Smile at them when you see them.  Speak kindly to them.  On a cold day bring them a cup of coffee.  Let them know that we sheep are appreciative of them, Offer your thanks for their service to our country and to us.  And please, never blame the sheepdog for the fact that wolves exist.  It’s not their fault.  The best we can do is pray that the sheepdog won’t need to risk engaging the wolf on our behalf. 

Friday, October 7, 2022

"God Has Visited His People"

[3rd Sunday of Luke, Lk 7:11-16]

When we are expecting to host guests in our homes, we take steps to assure that they will be welcomed properly.  We clean the house—from the kitchen floor to the toilet bowls, we make sure there are no reasons to give offense to our expected guest.  We probably cut the grass, perhaps pull the weeds.  We set out flowers.  We do everything we can think of to make our homes a welcoming place for our guests.

And we prepare ourselves as well.  We visit the hair salon.  We assure that we are wearing clothes that are pleasing.  We take pains to assure that even in these things nothing is left to chance.

Finally we may prepare a meal.  And for our guests, we provide an abundance of things to choose from—appetizers, salads, breads, main courses of meats and vegetables, and fruits.  And we do not skimp when it comes to desert.

Consider all the steps we’ve alluded to herein, all taken for a person we may love (if family), or a person we may want to impress (if we are friends or associates).

But how do we prepare for visits with our Lord?

“Father, what do you mean?  I don’t expect Jesus to walk through my door and be this kind of guest in my home.  What are you trying to convey to me?”

If you don’t expect to host Jesus, I would ask, “Why not?”

At every meal in our homes, we should (I dare say ‘must’) begin with offering thanks to God for the gifts He has bestowed upon us.  In short, we pray.  In thanksgiving.  In sincerity.  With respect, and with love.

And where is our Lord when we offer such prayer?  Is He not “in our midst”?  Is He not already a Guest in our home?  Or even more pointedly, are we not simply guests in the home He has provided to us?

In today’s Gospel account, we find Jesus doing what He does best—being amongst those who need Him the most.  Today, the one who most needs Jesus is a widow, a woman not unlike our Lord’s own Mother, with no husband to care for her, and an only son.  Here in the town of Nain, this woman’s son has breathed his last.  And in this image, our Lord in His compassion sees the state of His own Mother shortly hereafter as He is taken to the Cross, where she will stand near to Him and watch Him be executed, taking His own last breath, and she too will be a childless widow.

This godly compassion leads God the Son to do the impossible.  As God the Word, He speaks life into her child.  “Young man, I say to you arise!”

It is not possible for His creation to refuse to respond to the command of its Creator.  The boy sits up, and he begins to speak.

St. Luke records that Jesus “presented him to his mother.”  In another translation the word presented is substituted as delivered.

Jesus came to Nain on this day not to be entertained in the house of anyone important.  No one in Nain cleared trash from the streets in advance of His arrival.  What was important on this day was to give life, and to give it abundantly.  All the preparations in the world could not have changed the heart of God the Son to show mercy where He chose to show mercy.

“Father, are you saying that our preparations are a form of vanity?”  Let’s just say that preparations that are meaningful to God are preparations to our own hearts.  Any cleansing we do should be done first as repentance.  Any adorning we approach should be donning our intellects with study of Scripture, the Fathers, and things spiritual.  Jesus comes not to inspect our brick and mortar coverings from the weather He sends upon us.  He comes to dwell within the homes of our hearts and our spirits.

“Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1Cor 6:19)

We should prepare for His visit.  It is coming sooner than we think!


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Luke 6:37-45

Judge not, forgive, give.... It seems like nothing but expenses, without any profit.  But behold what is promised:  if you do not condemn, you will not be condemned; if you forgive, you will be forgiven; if you give, you will be given to.  Right now the  profit is not visible, but it will undoubtedly come for one who makes these expenditures from the heart.  It will come precisely at that time when he needs exoneration and forgiveness the most.  How will he rejoice when he is suddenly made worthy to receive such good gifts as if for nothing!  And, on the other hand, how another will sorrow and grieve because he did not know how to manage his property profitably!  He would now forgive everything and give away everything, but it is too late: everything has its time.  Not everyone pursues only the kind of profit that comes directly into his hands almost immediately after the expenditure.  A Russian proverb says, 'Throw bread and salt behind you, and you will find it in front of you.'  The actions in the above-mentioned cases really are like throwing something, but in these cases they are not thrown under foot to be trampled, but into the hands of God.  These hands are true, and sure to return what they receive.  Just add faith and hope.

- St. Theophan the Recluse