The Church Ecumenical and Familial

This Sunday is an important one for American Orthodoxy, as is especially apparent here in Dallas.  The Divine Liturgy will be con-celebrated at St. Seraphim OCA Cathedral by His Eminence Archbishop DMITRI (OCA), His Grace Bishop BASIL (Antiochian), and His Beatitude Metropolitan ISAIAH (GOARCH).  On this Sunday of Orthodoxy, Orthodoxy in America will have a conspicuous show of unity between the three largest American jurisdictions.  Glory to God! 

On a given Sunday the cathedral is at least comfortably filled by its 200 plus parishioners, so it is safe to say that when three of the most beloved and influential hiearches on this continent enter together on Sunday morning that there will be standing room only.  But then again we’re Orthodox, and there’s no pews anyway.  If it’s anything like the crowd that amassed for Archimandrite Zacharius than the cathedral will turn into a liturgy with mosh-pit styled comfortability.

With clean week upon us, and the parish in spring cleaning mode in preparation for the big event, a strange thing keeps happening.  The priests keep forgetting to announce it.

With all the fervor and emotion of Forgiveness Vespers I suppose it could seem understandable that they had to be reminded, and with the long services every day, that it might not be of the utmost concern at the time.  It could easily seem that the wonderful priests required reminders from the laymen to announce the event because of a proper focus – if not exhaustion.  In other words, it could seem that the priests were just too self-focused to be thinking about announcements.  This was not the case.

The reason that they kept forgetting the announcement about the con-celebration was because another announcement swallowed it up.

Francis Ford is dead. 

A family in the parish – a very dear family to us- has had their mother and grandmother pass away.  I had the pleasure to meet Francis a couple months ago when she visited from Tennessee.  Frailly she joked that other than + DMITRI she was the first American convert to Orthodoxy.  Her daughter and grand-daughter would quote her poetry to us with the solemnity and respect that one quotes Hesiod and Eliot.  Though she grew up and lived in Tennessee, she deeply loved St. Seraphim and sometimes would spend several months in Dallas so she could be with her daughter’s family and the parish.  And she was the servant of God.

Here’s the point: Sure it is great that there is this “political” event that is Godly and wonderful happening, but taking preeminence over all the “hype” was the grief and the morning that the Church-in-all-its-fullness.   The catholic Church – since catholic does not mean “universal”, but “fullness” – takes preimmanence over a show of administrative unity.  The truth of the servant of God falling asleep in the Lord, and the sorrow of her family – spiritual and physical – is both more important and real than even the wonderful event that is happening on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

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