September 2008

Fr. Antony Portrait

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I look forward to the beginning of the Ecclesiastical New Year (September 1) with joy.  Fall is my favorite time of year for a variety of reasons, but one of the most important to me is the return of our parishioners from vacation and the many college students that call St. Mary’s “home”.  September marks a time of new birth every year.  

My own travels have ended for the time being.  Thanks to His Eminence’s good graces I was permitted once more to spend the two weeks of the fourth session of summer camp working with the children, counselors and volunteers at Antiochian Village.  It would not be an exaggeration to say that my Orthodox life was formed by the Village and by Archimandrite Fr. John Namie of blessed memory who was the founding director of the camp.  Every summer is a period of spiritual and emotional growth for me as I work day and night hearing confessions, leading “Ask Abouna” sessions, counseling, celebrating Church services twice a day and having fun with the kids.

No doubt, those two weeks were the highlight of my summer.  Since I have been going to fourth session for many years I count among the attendees many wonderful friends, including children, counselors and volunteers.  The church of St. Mary’s in Livonia, Michigan sends two large buses full of kids every year and I have gotten to know many of them very well.  In October, for example, I will be traveling to Livonia to perform the wedding of a young man I met at AV when he was 15. We became exceptionally close and have maintained a father/son relationship these many years.  I could tell other similar stories.

But that is in the past and the present is here.  It is all we have.  Each moment is filled with potential and we must learn to live each one to its fullest.  This is an indispensible element of an authentic spiritual life.  Although we can look to the past we cannot live in it.  Although we can look to the future we cannot live in it.  Dwelling in either one is a cause of delusion and suffering.  This moment is good.  This moment is a gift from God. We can embrace the Kingdom of God by coming fully alive to every present moment for each one is a microcosm of all moments past, present and future. The Lord is fully present in every one.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Antony