Daily Reflection - Seminary Pilgrimage to St. John The Compassionate: Day 6
Sunday April 14, 2013
By Seminarian David Urban Mihaly
The Lived Theology School (LTS) is a wonderful opportunity for someone to go to Toronto and experience the Mission hands on. I believe it was Jackie, who is one of the interns at LTS, said during the podcast recently aired on Ancient Faith Radio that “you get a chance to be grounded when being present for a long period of time here.” It is a grounding experience in terms of life and the “real world” but for it to be a transforming effect, the foundation of the 4 Pillars is needed. These are Community, Liturgy, Diakonia, and Study. Let’s take a look at aspects of each as defined from their website http://www.livedtheologyschool.org/intern_program.php
– COMMUNITY –
“…They will work in the community that exists in the Mission and pray in the worshipping community of both the Mission and the St Silouan parish. They will have their own community of learning and participate in the learning community of the parish and the Mission.”
Something that was mentioned over our time there is how the church could not exist without the mission and the mission without the church. The people may not actively participate in both aspects, but they are aware of each other and support each other in some way. One of the goals at the mission is simply through selfless acts to make everyone feel included without holding on to any “labels” that society has given to them. This is accomplished on a daily basis. In the Beatitudes it is said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Poor is not simply referring to a financial state. We all have material and spiritual shortcomings. Through the community at the mission, through one’s presence in the hall, everyone will reach “the kingdom of heaven.”
– LITURGY –
“The Mission's spiritual life includes daily services that are part of the life of the Mission and also the liturgical life of the parish of St. Silouan that worships regularly in the Mission's chapel... Interns should be open to learning that even liturgical worship has a mission character.”
We had the opportunity to participate in various services at St. Silouan: the 3rd and 6th Hours, Presanctified Liturgy, Vespers, Matins, Akathist, evening Vigil, and Liturgy. When reflecting back on these, a few recollections I will hold on to forever: starting Matins nearly before the sun rose and chapel continueing to become brighter as the powerful service went on; singing with their choir during certain services (the women’s voices were so “clean” it was angelic); and participating in the evening Vigil on Friday night where we read the Psalter until midnight – an experience that I hope to have again someday.
– DIAKONIA –
“The intern will involve him/herself in the ongoing work of the Mission on a daily basis and gradually undertake a leadership role in specific areas of the work of the Mission…”
Diakonia (work) at the mission is exhausting! This is the “doing” aspect of the mission. We were helping to set the hall up for “tea time”, then lunch, then “tea time,” then service, and then the cycle repeated. There is always something to be done (as we can all say in our lives). By doing the work, by serving the meals, we are fulfilling what we are taught during the services that you and I attend. Jesus did not walk on this earth with the “upper class” but rather with the people on the streets. It was mentioned that ‘through helping others, one finds healing in themselves.’ This does not happen by simply sitting around – we were “doing.”
– STUDY –
“The study element of the internship will include formal lectures on the Orthodox theology and spirituality of mission to the poor and marginalized...”
Father Deacon Pawel had a very nice variety of lectures lined up for us. The “Kettle Of Fish” program at the mission offers various education and workshops to the families that come from Urban Gardening to Budgeting. The ideas of these programs can definitely be brought back to our local communities. Fr Roberto’s presentation on “The desert as a paradigm of mission” was equivialent to a class in itself! I also found our session with the Director of St Mary of Egypt Refuge, which is another aspect of the mission, quite rewarding. She talked about the practical help that the church can offer everyone.
We were only at the mission for 5 full days yet we were able to experience so much in that time. One of the questions that came up in one of the sessions talked about our presence in life and to each other: “who did I take a moment and sit next to and allow them to be a part of my life?” It is so easy for us to rush through life and barely take the time to ask someone “how are you” let alone actually stop and listen to their response. There is a sense of emptiness found in society today, but by living the Gospel this emptiness can be overcome. As the saying goes: Preach the Gospel, use words if necessary. Something that I will think about and hold on to for the rest of my life.