Remembering the Past and Experiencing the Future: A Reflection on the Platinum Anniversary of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA
At every Divine Liturgy, we are invited ....in
the fear of God and with faith and love to receive the Most-Pure Body and
Precious Blood of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
When we partake of the Eucharist,
we are united in a very real way with the entire church, past, present and
future. At that moment, we experience the reality that we are members of one
body, the Body of Christ. We are filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude
and thankfulness to Almighty God for allowing us, although unworthy, to be
united with Him in such a powerful way. We experience, even if for only the
briefest of moments, the radiance of the Kingdom of Heaven
as we take part in the Eternal or Cosmic Liturgy.
Orthodox Christians we are able to transcend time and place through our
participation in the Divine Liturgy. We are able to step outside of time and
experience what the Fathers of the Church have described as the Eternal Now.
immerse ourselves in the life of the Church and order our lives around the
Church Calendar, we become contemporaries with the saving events in the life of
Our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ and the saints of the Church. Each year
we journey through the cycle of the Church year in order to enter into the
reality of the events commemorated. We remember
these events in the present. There is a technical word in the Greek for the
word "remembrance"- anamnesis.
This word implies much more than recalling an event from the past. It is a
remembrance that brings the event into the present. It is a participation in the
event in the present. Many of the hymns for each feast and service begin with
the word "Today..." This is the sanctification of the present day in
order for us to participate in the reality of what we are commemorating. This
is seen in our Divine Liturgy where we thank God for:
...all that has been done for us: the Cross,
the Tomb, the Resurrection on the Third
day, the Ascension into Heaven, the sitting at the right hand,
the second and glorious coming (Anaphora Prayer - Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom).
Orthodox Christians, when we gather as the Church in worship and prayer, we are able to remember or relive the past
and at the same time experience that which is to come, the Glorious Second Coming of Christ and the
never-ending day of the Kingdom.
2008, we commemorated the seventieth anniversary of the consecration to the
episcopacy of our first diocesan Bishop, His Eminence, Metropolitan Orestes, of
thrice- blessed memory, and the canonical establishment of our diocese by the
Great Church of Christ, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. These
events are indeed worthy of celebration, as they mark the grafting on the tree of
Orthodoxy in America,
the living faith and piety of our ancestors in the faith of Carpatho-Rus. They are indeed worth of remembrance.
During the Platinum Jubilee Year, His
Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas called upon each and every one of us to remember
the past, to labor during the present for the building up of the Church and to
pray for the future of the diocese. The celebration of our Jubilee, as was directed
by Metropolitan Nicholas, was in a real sense a spiritual anamnesis, that is, a three-fold celebration of the past, present
a priest of the New England Deanery of our Diocese, I am acutely aware of the
early history of our diocese. I have the
honor and privilege of ministering to many who still remember His Eminence,
Metropolitan Orestes as being their Bishop and Pastor, who baptized, married
and buried many of their family members.
Each time I stand by the mercy of God at the altar, I can feel the
presence of His Eminence, Metropolitan Orestes and my predecessor,
Protopresbyter Joseph Mihaly who served before me in our parish. For many years they concelebrated the divine
services and sang together, in beautiful harmony, the hymns of the Church. Their
love of the Liturgy and our Plain Chant is indeed a legacy that is worthy of
celebration and remembrance. This
memory of the past is dear to the hearts of my faithful parishioners and goes
beyond the realm of nostalgia. It is remembered by them at each divine service as they, by the Grace of God, endeavor to worship in spirit and in truth.
the past seventy years, much has changed in the world and in our Diocese. While starting out as a diocese that served
the needs of the Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants arriving prior to the onset of World War II,
the makeup of our diocese has become more ethnically and racially diverse. We have been
blessed with the establishment of new mission parishes and a substantial growth
in converts to the faith. With the Falling Asleep in the Lord of His Eminence,
Metropolitan Orestes, Almighty God has continued to bless us with visionary
shepherds in the persons of His Grace Bishop John, of Blessed Memory, and His
Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas. These worthy laborers have, by the Grace of God,
furthered the legacy of our founding fathers and mothers, firmly establishing
new apostolates and pastoral initiatives. Through their labors and by the
passage of time, the peace of God which passes all understanding now permeates
celebrated our Platinum Jubilee, it is important that we remember the future by
acting now to build up our diocese, for the Glory of God. It is true that we face some real challenges
in our present day that interfere with the preaching of the Gospel of Christ
and the growth of the Church. We face some formidable roadblocks that are
exacerbated by the breakdown in the family, the increasingly fast pace of life
caused by advances in technology and communication, and the secularization and
globalization of the world. While at
times these challenges may seem insurmountable, we need only recall the
challenges our diocese faced in the past and overcame due to the providence of
Almighty God and our willingness to place our trust in His Mercy.
clergy and faithful of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, we must continue
to emulate the faith, piety and zeal of our founding fathers and mothers. It is true that times have changed, and the manner in which we
apply our faith to our contemporary situation by necessity differs from the
past. It is imperative, however, that we move forward with the same duch or spirit of our diocesan founders,
that of...loving the Lord our God with our
whole heart, whole soul and our entire mind and our neighbor as ourselves.(Luke
10:27). Over the years, this love of God and His Holy Church
has been expressed in its fullest in our joyful celebration of the divine
services and most especially the Divine Liturgy, as we sing with one voice our
beloved Plain Chant melodies. It bodes well for the future of our diocese that
our diocesan youth of today have developed a great love for the singing of our
Plain Chant. One need only visit Camp
Nazareth during our
diocesan camping sessions or the annual
pilgrimage to witness firsthand the piety and fervor of our youth singing the
hymns of their ancestors in the faith.
Having completed our Jubilee celebration, let us truly give thanks to the Lord for all
of His many blessings of the past, the present and those yet to come, by fully
living the Faith that has been handed down to us. Let us, above all else,
participate in the Cosmic Liturgy, by being prepared to partake of the Body and
Blood of Christ at every Divine Liturgy.
May we, as members of this God-saved diocese, truly remember the past, labor now for the glory of God and, in so doing,
experience the joy of the never-ending day of the Kingdom. Amen.
Rev. Protopresbyter Peter Paproski