Comments Posted By Priest Justin Frederick
Displaying 1 To 30 Of 111 Comments
The pension plan only works if you have money to put in it. Per the OCA plan, the parish is to put in six percent of the priest’s/deacon’s salary and his housing allowance, and the clergyman matches that. A good number of clergy make so little that they need all the money they receive now to live and can’t contribute, even if the parish can, which too often, it can’t–or won’t. An income stream thirty years from now is a low priority when you are trying to have food on the table today.
Some clergy serve for a good number of years before having adequate income to enroll in the plan. While priests who go to established parishes may get on the pension plan immediately, those who go to missions can expect to serve for many years before enrolling.
While the Synod has mandated that all clergy enroll in the plan, mandates don’t create the money to pay for what is mandated, and pensions for parish clergy are not a line item in any budget above the parish level.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On April 11, 2013 @ 12:20 pm
Dear SAM, I only asked that canonical procedures be followed. If your bishop has committed a canonical offense worthy of deposition, let him be canonically deposed. If not, well…you all chose him, (and quite a production that process was). Make it work. Is not the grace of God available to us for this end? Are these not our canonical options here, as Fr. Alexey has so clearly laid out the matter? I am making no judgment as to which is the correct option, nor urging one or the other, only that the option that applies be taken. Thankfully, the Holy Synod must shoulder the responsibility of making that determination, not you or I.
I do wonder how much of the animus against your bishop is driven by his liturgical directives, which appear to be unwelcome in some parts of the DOM?
And I asked questions rather than offering advice, so whether I am on the ground or surveying from ten thousand feet seems irrelevant. I do not know of Brother Jerome, so if I am channelling him, you may be assured that it is entirely involuntary.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On March 1, 2013 @ 11:16 pm
And so retirement becomes our de facto ‘solution’ for every problem–a ‘solution’ not found in the canons.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On March 1, 2013 @ 9:44 am
In response to Mr.? Fr.? Jonathan Johnston:
Rigorist Russians support the use of the King James? I didn’t know that–reflecting my lack of proper Orthodox education, no doubt.
At least His Eminence Dmitri of blessed memory supported the use of an English translation based on the Byzantine Greek text of the New Testament, the text the Church has used and preserved throughout the centuries, rather the the RSV translated from an artificial Greek text redacted by Protestant scholars in the 19th century.
So we are now considered “Texas sectarians?” Ignoramuses lacking the proper education? It might be flattering to know that you regard us so highly–if you told us who you really are, and if we regarded your regard as more desirable than God’s. Alas, we fall short of meriting your regard or His. Pray for us. (And as you seem to consider us enemies of some sort to your “American Church” project, you are commanded by your Savior and Master to pray for us!)
Archbishop Dmitri to my knowledge never pushed anyone to have long hair or a long beard. Some of his clergy did, some didn’t. Neither hair nor the lack thereof particularly commended the bearer to him. Yes, cassocks in public (what, are we supposed to wear them only in private, then?)–at least when clergy were gathered for official church functions. Outside of that? He never issued any edicts. You, sir, present an unfriendly caricature of a true bishop, Christian, and gentleman. Your words, whoever you are, reveal a desire to uproot his legacy in the South. Who are you? For whom do you speak? Please find the courage to stop hiding behind pseudonyms and take responsibility for your words.
The Russian Church is our immediate mother. A wise son follows his mother’s teaching, according to Solomon, and honors her, even when he becomes mature–or has your real Orthodox theological education taught you to do otherwise? Are we to be castigated and criticized for honoring our mother, however poorly we manage to do it? Are we to be despised and insulted for following our beloved father Archbishop Dmitri? So be it. One could be insulted for much worse. In fact, to be disparaged for our likeness to our Mother Church and our Father in the faith is an honor. Thank you.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On February 20, 2013 @ 11:10 pm
When then-Bishop Nikon attended our mission’s ten-year anniversary a year and half ago, I asked him privately as we drove up to the church what he thought about the so-called strategic plain. All he said to me in response, quite pointedly, was this: “Our strategic plan is lying right there on the altar.”
If we had spent as much time on committees and focus groups studying the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His commandments which we are to teach to all nations as we have spent creating, revising, discussing, applying a strategic plan that will never lie on the altar, we might be making some progress by now. In fact, I’m quite sure of it. The Gospel is life. The strategic plan is anything but that.
Well-said Fr. Alexey!
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On February 18, 2013 @ 12:23 pm
Plus one led by a convert priest in San Antonio, Texas, and a likely new mission in a state nearby that would have been OCA had it not been for our recent crisis.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On December 7, 2012 @ 3:38 pm
Thank you for your prayers.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On November 2, 2012 @ 9:45 pm
Dear Carl, May the blessing of the Lord be upon you! Our world is full of things that cause me dismay daily: bad politics, bad elections, bad storms, bad foreign policy, bad economics, bad laws, and a growing police state fostered by both parties–to name a few–not to mention many dismay-rousing words and actions in the Church, especially since February 2011 ( but there were plenty before then). Forgive me if my words are a cause of dismay to you. No doubt I fail to find a better way forward out of dismay in my sinfulness, and I am in need of your prayers. But If my words are all that dismay you, I think you are truly blessed indeed! Honestly, I’m not interested in stirring the pot. I’d like to see it taken out and emptied where it belongs. It has caused all too many of us far too much dismay and distraction from the mission of the Church already. Peace to you!
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On November 2, 2012 @ 9:45 pm
We cannot live by lies, nor can we live in a Potemkin village. Are we Orthodox Christians to be content with ‘having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof/? May the Lord grant us all true repentance before it is too late and HIs judgment comes. “But if the salt has lost its savor, it is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot of men.”
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On November 1, 2012 @ 2:27 pm
You are right on this, Fr. John. Attempts have been made, but our every attempt so far has been squashed. We offered a resolution at the AAC in Seattle calling on our bishops to consider leaving the NCC; it was not allowed to come to the floor.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On November 2, 2012 @ 2:27 pm
So, if lots of people register (say 500) and then don’t show up (say only 200 come to Parma), a quorum would not be possible?
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On October 18, 2012 @ 3:56 pm
Sorry. Pushed thumbs down by accident. The language is strange: ‘accredited’ means those properly registered and approved by the bishop. What if many registered and didn’t show up at all? Could that prevent a quorum? But it seems not: it is a majority of those accredited AND present at a given session. Session of what? The Sobor as a whole (accredited delegates who showed up and checked in)? or a majority of those who show up at a particular session of the Sobor? If the latter, that seems to ensure a quorum in every case. What would be necessary not to have a quorum, one wonders?
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On October 18, 2012 @ 1:37 pm
Exactly right, Father. Genetic science is clear on this.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On October 17, 2012 @ 12:23 pm
“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.” Lev 19:15
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” John 7:24
So Christ commands us both to judge and not to judge. We need to go beyond trying to shut down discourse by just trotting out the first two words of Matthew 7:1, perhaps the two words of Christ most quoted today. The rest of the verse and the next four that follow show that those two words are not an absolute prohibition.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On October 15, 2012 @ 8:39 pm
According to the canons, a man married to a divorced woman cannot be ordained a priest.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On October 14, 2012 @ 7:26 pm
I’m sorry, Fr. John, you really don’t know how pews make it difficult for people to participate in worship? How many people do the appointed prostrations during weekday services or during Great Lent when there are pews cluttering the nave? A few fervent faithful make the effort to get out into the aisles, the rest use the pews as an excuse to avoid a traditional posture of worship which is prescribed during services. When the church is on the fuller side, some will be unable to assume the traditional form of worship even if they want to. Or will you say that making a prostration in church is really not important or necessary, a nice bit of piety for those who wish it, but which can be safely omitted by those who don’t want to?
So pews are good because they keep people from wandering around the church during services?!
Further, pews could be said to be bad stewardship. How? Not only do they cost a good bit in themselves, they also force one to build a church building larger than if the pews were not installed. How many square feet do you need for 150 people to stand comfortably? How many to seat the same number in pews? Add up the additional costs imposed by pews: larger building, heating and cooling a larger space, the cost of the pews themselves. I’d call that bad stewardship.
And what were the compelling benefits of rows of pews?
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On October 23, 2012 @ 9:11 am
Actually, Father John, this is what Archbishop Dmitri’s service book says: “The deacon says (usually when the civil authorities are Orthodox Christians)”. As our civil authorities are not Orthodox, this commemoration was not made at St. Seraphim’s cathedral in Dallas when I served there for a year under His Eminence. I don’t make the commemoration myself. It is particularly discordant when a non-Orthodox president is commemorated by name, which I have heard done in the Litanies and at the Entrance. My understanding is that we pray by name in our services only for those who are Orthodox. The others are prayed for in the general categories found in the Great Litany, etc.
In the Slavonic Service books, the only commemorations prescribed at the Great Entrance are for the hierarchs and for “you and all Orthodox Christians”. A slightly longer variant adds “The founders and brethren of this holy temple, those who labor and those who sing here, you and all Orthodox Christians…”
It is funny: clergy who worry so much about the length of the services that they cut many things that are appointed to be done (Psalm 33 at the end, verses on the Beatitudes, antiphons) add a bunch of stuff at the Great Entrance that is not appointed. I remember Met. Theodosius commemorating those suffering from AIDS along with a whole long list of other things. We’ve already prayed for the sick and the suffering, why choose out sufferers of a particular disease or two for inclusion here?
One of the Holy Fathers to whom you refer, St. Maximus, puts the motivation for serving God slightly differently: Our service of God begins with fear of punishment, grows with a desire for promised rewards, and culminates with deep love. “Perfect love casts out fear”, but the “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Fear and desire for reward have their place in Orthodox teaching, but perfection is found only in love.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On October 12, 2012 @ 11:33 am
Well done, Mr. Kalvesmaki. Thank you for your clear testimony. You also show a positive, Christian way forward.
The preponderance of evidence making doubt of the accuracy of the letter of July 16 reasonable is growing and remains unanswered. The chancellor told me weeks ago that neither he nor the Synod can enter into point by point refutation of credible testimony calling into question the reliability of what was said in that letter, but I hope they will reconsider–for if those points can be answered, it would help put doubt and distrust to rest. But perhaps that is the point–that they cannot?
For the good of the Church and the restoration of trust and hope, something other than silence is needed. And Mr. Kalvesmaki has shown a promising way to that goal, which I think we all desire.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On September 19, 2012 @ 4:42 pm
And consider the prisoner-on-prisoner violence, where the strong prey on the weak, that can turn incarceration into a living hell and punish someone far more than his crime deserves.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On September 25, 2012 @ 11:33 am
Dear Photius, I “scare the crap outa me” too, when I reflect upon what I am doing standing before the altar. Pray for us ‘convert priests’, if you care about the Church. Pray that God will raise up more ‘cradle’ priests–and bishops–to keep us on the straight and narrow way.
Increasingly it seems that the word “convert” is used in opprobrium–though I’m not necessarily say you meant it in that way, though you may have. My own beloved Bishop of blessed memory was denied the office of Metropolitan because he was a convert.
We converts do bring baggage with us to the Church, much like the Gentiles brought much that was not kosher into the early Church. Perhaps we all need to reflect on the book of Acts to see how the problem was addressed then, to ponder subsequent Church History about the ongoing relations between Jewish and Gentile Christians, and all of us to stop using terms like ‘cradle’ and ‘convert’ as slurs.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On September 24, 2012 @ 5:50 pm
Dear Brethren, I regret getting caught up in this discussion. It is not my job to preach capital punishment, but Christ and Him crucified.
My main intent in speaking was simply to challenge the contention that the Church’s unequivocal position is opposition to the death penalty. Many people may hold that view, some bishops may teach that, a certain peace fellowship may assert it, but the Scriptures, History, and the Tradition do not support the contention that was made that this is THE position of the Church. Perhaps it should be. Perhaps it will be. But let us not make facile claims more likely the product of a political position or wishful thinking than hammered out by careful reflection on all our authorities.
A very important question has to be answered: what is the relation of the OT Scriptures to the Gospel? The Creed asserts that Christ’s death and resurrection were ‘according to the Scriptures’, by which it means the OT. Jesus said that He came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. How are we to understand this? Many distinguish between the ceremonial law which Christ fulfilled and is no longer binding and the moral law which still applies, but I am not certain such a distinction works adequately to determine in each case of OT law whether or not it applies literally, in principle, or not at all, being fulfilled or superseded in some way. The fathers spent a lot of time offering allegorical and spiritual interpretations of passages that to them were too barbaric for literal Christian application but which, being inspired, had to convey some spiritual message for all time. In all case, we all need to go more deeply into the Scriptures and the Tradition than we do.
May God help us discern His will and good pleasure as we strive faithfully to proclaim His good news to this sinful world.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On September 24, 2012 @ 5:35 pm
The administration of capital punishment in our land is an entirely distinct topic from the use of it in principle. The way it is applied in our land, and the way justice is often handled in our land, is abominable. What you describe is abominable. The law prescribes equal treatment for rich and poor alike: in our land, justice is often for sale. My defense of the principle of capital punishment should not be taken as a defense of our current criminal ‘justice’ system.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On September 22, 2012 @ 3:53 pm
Dear Peter, Thank you for your kind regards. For us in Texas, the good weather is only now just beginning!
Are you saying that it would be wrong to use violence to defend an someone under violent attack? I can embrace anyone making that choice for himself, but not for someone else. So do you call the police? Or does Bishop Demtrios call for the abolition of all police and military forces so that evil finds no resistance?
We do live under the New Covenant. Mercy does triumph over judgment. Every sinner, every criminal should be treated as a human person and given his opportunity for repentance. We certainly do not function that way in our system now. Much is amiss with it.
Yet neither you nor DOS Mark has addressed the positive command of God contained in the Scriptures that I cited. God himself has passed judgment on the convicted murder and given the state the authority to carry out the sentence of death. It is not a matter of angry retribution, but of obedience to a divinely given command. Carrying out that command may be just what is needed to bring the convict to repentance, and not him only but also others. Remember the thief on the cross.
Until those among us opposed to capital punishment in principle deal honestly with the full counsel of God revealed in the Scriptures and in the Tradition of the Church, and particularly on what basis this particular command of God is negated, your position is on shaky ground. The Church of Russia’s statement of Social Engagement (2000) deals with the subject. it says some things that you’ll agree with, but several things that do not support your contention.
The death penalty as a special punishment was recognised in the Old Testament. There are no indications to the need to abolish it in the New Testament or in the Tradition or in the historical legacy of the Orthodox Church either. At the same time, the Church has often assumed the duty of interceding before the secular authority for those condemned to death, asking it show mercy for them and commute their punishment. Moreover, under Christian moral influence, the negative attitude to the death penalty has been cultivated in people’s consciousness. Thus, in the period from the mid-18th century to the 1905 Revolution in Russia, it was applied on very rare occasions. For the Orthodox church consciousness, the life of a person does not end with his bodily death, therefore the Church continues her care for those condemned to capital punishment.
The abolition of death penalty would give more opportunities for pastoral work with those who have stumbled and for the latter to repent. It is also evident that punishment by death cannot be reformatory; it also makes misjudgement irreparable and provokes ambiguous feelings among people. Today many states have either abolished the death penalty by law or stopped practicing it. Keeping in mind that mercy toward a fallen man is always more preferable than revenge, the Church welcomes these steps by state authorities. At the same time, she believes that the decision to abolish or not to apply death penalty should be made by society freely, considering the rate of crime and the state of law-enforcement and judiciary, and even more so, the need to protect the life of its well-intentioned members.
Thus the matter is not so clear-cut and unequivocal as you, DOS Mark, and Fr. Peter assert, and to make the sweeping generalization about the Church’s position on the matter that all of you have made is not accurate.
I think we need to ponder our relation to the Old Testament. Some of us are all to ready to dismiss it as a barbaric relic of the past. The Fathers, however did not treat it that way. More attention, more nuance, more love for it is needed. For it is “according to the Scriptures” of the OT that Christ was crucified and is risen again.
A last bit for thought: we may recoil from death as a legal penalty. But what is the alternative? No where does God command imprisonment for Israel. No where! That should give us cause. And we should not blithely assume that we are so much more advanced and illumined that we can dismiss the penal code of the OT as having no validity or as providing no basis for serious reflection on the matter of crime and punishment. But I seriously ask: is it really more humane to lock a man in a concrete cell and cage him for the rest of his life with other criminals? Is this the best way to cultivate repentance, if that is what we are after? I’d think that staring a death sentence in the face three months out is as likely or more so to produce repentance than the other. Repentance, after all, is not dependent upon the passage of time, as the thief on the cross and the life of one harlot of the desert (Mary, niece of Abba Abraham, I think) shows.
I may be wrong, but I have yet to see a discussion against capital punishment that takes the full counsel of the Scriptures seriously. The Moscow Patriarchate’s statement, which does, comes to a somewhat different conclusion.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On September 20, 2012 @ 11:33 pm
Don’t scratch too long or you might draw blood! I’d not want that for you. We can talk another time.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On September 19, 2012 @ 11:46 pm
Dear Mr. Papoutsis, I’ll not dwell on this, since, as you say, it is a bit off the main topic.
We are, I think, obligated to make a vital distinction between the moral status of slavery and capital punishment. Slavery was never commanded in the Scriptures. It was tolerated; God gave Israel laws for its humane application, condescending, no doubt, to the human condition, with a view to its eventual demise. On the other hand, long before the Roman Empire came into existence, God did command both Noah after the flood and Moses to put to death those who took the lives of others unlawfully. It was part of the law of the Church of the Old Covenant, Israel. In one case we have tolerance of something we should better do without; in the other, we have a positive command.
“Sanctity of life” is a term of recent coinage. I agree with its defense of the unborn, the aged, and the innocent, but that slogan or sobriquet is not the primary basis for our teaching: the Scriptures and the Tradition are.
I, as a father, would not kill someone who killed one of my daughters after the fact. But it would be immoral for me or any father to fail to defend to the utmost of his ability his innocent dependents or any innocent party against someone threatening them with serious harm.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On September 19, 2012 @ 6:59 pm
Logan, God commanded it of Noah and Israel for the defense and respect of life. He authorized it, yea commanded it for murder. Why is it OK for a ‘Christian’ to set aside the Holy Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church to make such careless statements in the name of the Church?
On what basis do we determine that it is more humane and God-honoring to shut a convicted killer in a cage for the rest of his natural life? In fact, you won’t find any divine command in Scripture authorizing prisons at all. Perhaps we need to rethink a few assumptions….
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On September 19, 2012 @ 4:14 pm
Dear Fr. Peter, who is the ‘we’ who stand against capital punishment? While there are individual bishops who have taken a stand against it, I do not believe the Church as a whole has, and the biblical and historical record do not support your general assertion. It is certainly not clear in the way that adultery, same sex marriage, abortion, theft, etc. are clear.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On September 19, 2012 @ 9:17 am
As of today, Metropolitan Jonah is still listed in the category of “retired and former” bishops. Which raises a question: what is a “former bishop?” It seems it would mean a bishop who had been laicized, but such a person would not be listed on the website. So what is a ‘former’ bishop and how is such a person distinguished from a ‘retired’ bishop?
Abp. Seraphim of Canada, who has not been laicized or deposed or convicted, is not listed at all, as some have noted. Why not? Probably a lawyer’s advice for reasons of liability.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On September 18, 2012 @ 9:24 am
I was wondering about that myself. We are dangerously sloppy at best.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On September 15, 2012 @ 4:49 pm
Back To Stats Page
Dear Monk James, your dismissive comment about the ‘idea of the South’ being a’ failed political mechanism’ smacks of Yankee bigotry. The South has a distinct culture of its own, actually several distinct cultures, regardless of any failed political mechanisms. Do you really want to advance the claim that a Southerner must strip himself of his culture to enter the Church? That Christ and culture are incompatible? That Southern culture is irredeemable? Or are you saying Southerners possess no culture? I do hope that you are saying none of these things. But it sure sounds like you are saying one or more of them.
» Posted By Priest Justin Frederick On September 28, 2012 @ 11:05 pm