The shooting that just took place on the Seattle Pacific University campus hit close to home, for I count among my friends, Dr. Richard Steele, a professor on the campus. Dr. Steele has been bringing groups of students to our monastery for many years, and I have been honored as a guest lecturer in many of his classes. For a number of years I served a weekly Vesper service in the Student Union building, while ministering to the campus’ Orthodox students.
Accustomed, as we’ve become to hearing about shootings on campuses, when I first heard of the SPU shooting, it didn’t hit me that it was this particular campus, until I received a text message from a young Orthodox Christian, who is a graduate of that university. Reader Gabriel wondered if perhaps I might be needed on the campus. Although it is still too early to know the motive behind this latest shooting, I would like to make an observation concerning the overall direction we are witnessing as our society moves further into a sort of madness.
As we witness the wholesale abandonment of religious belief in our society, we are seeing a breakdown in the moral fiber that has sustained Western Culture. Painful as it is, every time I speak on area campuses, I meet countless numbers of students who have no religious belief whatsoever. Increasing numbers even declare themselves as atheists, holding, as they do, to very pedestrian images of God to begin with. The image of the God they’ve rejected is far from the actual reality of the God revealed to us through the Incarnation of the Word, experienced in Jesus Christ, and worshiped in Holy Trinity.
The shooting on the Seattle Pacific University campus proves yet again that our nation has become obsessed with violence. That our movies portray extremes in violence, and pollute our minds with sick images of darkness, evil and death, clearly exposes the origins of such mayhem, yet the real source, to my mind, is the total loss of hope. We have deprived our youth of hope. The bad economy, and the likelihood many of our young people will never be able to fulfill dreams of meaningful and satisfying careers, all the while facing mounting debt for the education they are getting, leaves little wonder that many of them, in their despair and hopelessness, lash out in violence.
What we put into our minds does make a difference, and if we want our children to grow up to become sensitive, loving, and caring people, we have to know that the movies they watch, the video games they play, and the company they keep, does make a difference. But even more important, we must not deprive these generations of young people of a faith that will sustain them, even as the world fails them. As our country is becoming desensitized towards violence, we have also drifted away from the faith that sustained generations of our ancestors, even as they, like us, faced the horrors of a fallen world.
Just as we of the older generations must be concerned with what goes into the minds of our youth, we must, more importantly, be concerned about what goes into their hearts. When a heart is not prepared to be the tabernacle of the Living God, it remains crippled and darkened, and open to the demonic influencing of a violent world, devoid of hope. If we really love our young, we must be willing to image, in a real and sustaining way, a faith in the Living God. The greatest gift we can give our children is not a good education, or a cool car, but a faith that will sustain them, no matter what may come.
With love in Christ,
I received word this morning from my friend, Dr. Richard Steele. This is an excerpt from his note:
“…judging from what I saw on TV and on the streaming video of last night’s service, I have never been more proud of this institution. The faith, courage and calmness were just stunning. And the fact that the headline on the front page of this morning’s Seattle Times reads “STUDENT STOPS CAMPUS KILLER,” and not “ONE DEAD, TWO INJURED IN CAMPUS SHOOTING,” or something of that sort, suggests that the media is focusing on how this place has responded to the tragedy, not to the horrible event itself. And that, too, is a mercy. Faithful and effective “Christian witness” in our time, if it is possible at all, consists in displaying stubborn, quiet resilience in the face of evil, not in a deluge of pious preachments.”
Richard B. Steele, PhDProfessor of Moral & Historical Theology
Friday June 6, 2014
Apososis of the Ascension. Tone six.
Fast. Fish Allowed
Venerable Symeon Stylites (the Younger) of the Wonderful Mountain (596).
Venerable Nicetas Stylites, wonderworker of Pereyaslavl-Zalesski (1186).
St. Xenia of Petersburg, fool-for-Christ (Glorification 1988).
Martyrs Meletius Stratelates, Stephen, John, and 1,218 soldiers with women and children, including: Serapion the Egyptian, Callinicus the Magician, Theodore, Faustus, the women Marciana, Susanna, and Palladia, two children Cyriacus and Christian, and twelve tribunes: Faustus, Festus, Marcellus, Theodore, Meletius, Sergius, Marcellinus, Felix, Photinus, Theodoriscus, Mercurius, Didymus, all of whom suffered in Galatia (218).
St. Gregory, archbishop of Novgorod (1193).
Venerable Vincent of Lerins (ca. 450).
Nun-martyr Martha, abbess of Monemvasia (990).
You can read the life of the saint by clicking on the highlighted name.
“Blogs and social networks give us new opportunities for the Christian mission…Not to be present there means to display our helplessness and lack of care for the salvation of our brothers.” His Holiness Patriarch Kirill
The Scripture Readings for the Day
The Voyage to Rome Begins
27 And when it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment. 2So, entering a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us. 3And the next day we landed at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him liberty to go to his friends and receive care. 4When we had put to sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. 5And when we had sailed over the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. 6There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy, and he put us on board.
7When we had sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone. 8Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.
Paul’s Warning Ignored
9Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, 10saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.” 11Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul. 12And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to set sail from there also, if by any means they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest, and winter there.
In the Tempest
13When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. 14But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon. 15So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive. 16And running under the shelter of an island called Clauda, we secured the skiff with difficulty. 17When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven. 18And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship. 19On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands. 20Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.
21But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. 22And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, 24saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. 26However, we must run aground on a certain island.”
27Now when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land. 28And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little farther, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms. 29Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come. 30And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow, 31Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off.
33And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing. 34Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.” 35And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat. 36Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves. 37And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship. 38So when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea.
Shipwrecked on Malta
39When it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible. 40And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore. 41But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves.
42And the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape. 43But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land, 44and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.
18As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
Jesus Prays for All Believers
20“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
24“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”