GOOD & FAITHFUL SERVANT

EVERYDAY OPPORTUNITIES FOR SERVANTS TO SEE

By Fr. Stephen Siniari

[Spring-Summer, 2001]

Glory to the Holy, Consubstantial, Life-Giving, and Undivided Trinity.

   I called Father George about the etymology of the term, Life-Giving. He said it had the connotation of creation in a sense similar to the English word poem, (Psalm, I thought). Not something fashioned by a maker, but something called into being ex nihilo… out of nothingness… Presbytera Vula, Father’s wife, caught him running out the door, probably to a hospital or a funeral… Few families are so personally steeped in our common existential metamorphosis as the families who serve a parish.

   Father Alexander used to say: "Priests and cemeteries; both necessary, both out of life." Who should be so intimately familiar with a funeral as a Priest?

   "Thy creative command was my origin and my existence. For it was Thy pleasure out of visible and invisible ingredients to call me into being as a living creature. Thou hast shaped my body from the earth and Thou hast given me a soul by Thy Divine and quickening Breath…"

   "When you consider creation," says Saint Basil, "I advise you to first think of Him who is the first cause of everything that exists: namely, the Father, and then of the Son, who is the Creator, and then the Holy Spirit, the Perfector… And let no one accuse me of saying that there are three unoriginate persons, or that the work of the Son is imperfect. The Originator of all things is One: He creates through the Son and perfects through the Spirit. The Father’s work is in no way imperfect, since he accomplishes all in all, nor is the Son’s work deficient if it is not completed by the Spirit. The Father creates through His will alone and does not need the Son, yet chooses to work through the Son. Likewise the Son works as the Father’s likeness and needs no other co-operation, but He chooses to have His work completed through the Spirit."

   Some allow their view of life to be vitiated by an "alien and loathsome spirit." They lose sight of the meaning and value in every form of human being. Ultimately they render their sense of life as curse instead of blessing. Unwittingly they quench their desire to co-operate with God in perfecting Theosis in them through others.

   There’s a place on the bay where cops and bad guys call a truce for breakfast. The coffee tastes like licorice. They make eggs and grits, hot cakes and scrapple. I met with Pastor David and Bill who runs the Mission.

   Pastor David has been to Saint Tikhon’s, to Mount Athos, and to Jerusalem in his pilgrimage Churchward. Life-creating? I asked him-God chooses to work through us? He mentioned God as Life not dependent on any source, but as being Life Himself. He talked about the woman who loves him, whom he loves, how together they were blessed to participate in the creative act of God’s love in the birth of their children.

   Father Elchaninov: "Man enters deeply into the texture of the world through his family alone… Marriage, fleshly love, is a very great sacrament and mystery. Through it is accomplished the most real and at the same time the most mysterious of all possible forms of human relationship. And qualitatively, marriage enables us to pass beyond all the normal rules of human relationship… God has granted the world to share in His omnipotence: man creates man, a new soul is brought in to being."

   Bill listened, then he told us about a lice covered woman, body temperature had dropped to 84 degrees; blood sugar had risen to 600… Lost in the sauce, freezing to death in a doorway on the Boardwalk… mere feet from the gaming halls in America’s biggest little city, more pilgrims a year than any shrine. Bill heard about her, sought her out, and found her. Her recovery is an ongoing miracle.

   It took Bill eight long years as pilgrim of the Absolute, to seek out, to find, and to embrace the Orthodox Faith. Along the way he learned to chant the psalms. But long before that he was gifted to see everyday opportunities to be a faithful servant, to see the sanctity, the holiness, and the value of God’s life in others, to know the other as an icon of God, and to love them, no matter how badly "bruised by the brands of transgressions."

   If you’re interested, I suppose there are still everyday opportunities for faithful servants to learn to chant a verse or two in the ongoing, life-creating Psalm of our Creator.

 

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