Trying Hard


So seminary has, once again, gotten the best of me.  The best laid plans…  The pace of my work has slowed to a crawl since Saturday.  Palm Sunday saw me leaving the seminary around 8:30 and getting back around 8:30 p.m., at which point I worked on a paper for a few hours before crashing.  Monday morning we had 3 and a half hours of chapel: 3rd, 6th, 9th hours; Typica and Presanctified Liturgy.  We also read long portions of the Gospel of Luke at the Hours as is a tradition here (and elsewhere?).  The afternoon was eaten up by phone calls and planning and I suddenly found myself getting in the car with the bishop and two other seminarians (all the others were in another car) to drive to my parish assignment on Long Island for a long Bridegroom Matins.  We got back to the seminary after 11 p.m. at which point I crashed.

Today saw another round of 3rd, 6th, & 9th hours; Typica, and Presanctified Liturgy in the morning, then a brief music rehearsal, another page of my paper written, and then once again getting in the car to drive to Archdiocese Headquarters to pick up the bishop and a seminarian and then drive to the church in South Plainfield, NJ for Bridegroom Matins.  I got back a little after 11 p.m. tonight.  And I am about ready to crash, although I absolutely have to finish this paper tonight before I do so.

Tomorrow we’ll be back in chapel in the morning from 9-12:30 again, then I’ll have a couple hours to try and squeeze some work in before heading to HQ again and then to another parish in Bergenfield, NJ with the bishop for Holy Unction.  Thursday morning we’ll be traveling with the bishop to a parish for the Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper, and in the evening to the parish in Little Falls, NJ for the Service of the 12 Gospels (the longest service of the Orthodox liturgical year). Good Friday morning four of us seminarians will be traveling with the bishop to Florida, NY for Royal Hours, then driving to Poughkeepsie for Vespers in the afternoon and Lamentations in the evening.  We’ll stay overnight in Poughkeepsie and have Vesperal Liturgy in the morning on Holy Saturday there.  Then we four and the bishop drive to Allentown, PA on Saturday afternoon and are at the church there for Pascha services Saturday night into the wee hours of Sunday.  Then we come back to the seminary late Sunday morning.

Welcome to the life of a seminarian in Holy Week.  Please pray for me, as I pray for you, and ask God to grant strength during this time.  Updates will come as fortitude allows.


Not Quite Dead


So I just wanted to make a quick post to let all two of you know that, in the words of the anonymous old man at the beginning of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I’m not quite dead. I just have a lot of work to do, not a lot of time to do it in, and I’m wicked tired.  

I haven’t forgotten about my promise to write about my trip to Montreal, but you’ll hopefully be seeing my article about that on the St. Vlad’s website soon.  With pictures.  Always good.

Today we had a PT Unit (Pastoral Theology) with the wonderful Dr. Al Rossi.  We talked about intimacy and suffering, and watched Tuesday’s with Morrie.  It was an informative and thought-provoking session.  I then spent the rest of the afternoon in the library working, and then spent 45 minutes on the phone with my bank to try and rectify an error on my account (fixed, thank the Lord!).  Then we had Vespers for Lazarus Saturday and thundered the troparion:

By raising Lazarus from the dead before Thy passion, Thou didst confirm the universal resurrection, O Christ God! Like the children with the branches of victory, we cry out to Thee, O Vanquisher of Death: Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord!

After that I spent the rest of the evening in the library and accomplished a feat that I had yet to experience in college or grad school: falling asleep in the library.  Somehow I leaned back in the chair and the next thing I remembered was bolting upright.  Good times.  Now I’m back in my room for the rest of the evening where I’ll try and finish this paper and then get some much needed rest.  

Tomorrow is Lazarus Saturday which you can read about here: The Liturgical Year – Lazarus Saturday.  So I’ll be going to liturgy in the morning and then spending the rest of the day trying to be studious.  God bless Dunkin’ Donuts.  

Heading to Greece!

The Katholikon (main church) of the Holy Monastery of St. Paul, Mt. Athos.

So, some exciting news: I’ve been holding back talking about it because up until last week it was still very much up in the air, but, by the grace of God, I will be traveling to the Mediterranean in a few short weeks!  I will be traveling as part of a group of brother seminarians, led by the dean of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, Fr. John Behr, as well as our liturgics/canon law professor Fr. Alexander Rentel.  Our group will be traveling first to Istanbul, followed by time on Mt. Athos, with a brief stop in Thessaloniki before heading to Athens before flying back to the U.S.  We’ll be there abroad for about 18 days, visiting churches, monasteries, and historical sites.

It’s going to be an intense experience, given that we’re only allowed to bring what we can carry, so I will not be bringing a laptop. And given that we’re going to be on Mt. Athos for the better part of two weeks I don’t think regular updates on here will be possible.  However there might be ways I could do so from my phone, but that will depend on finding wi-fi when we’re in civilization.  So live updates will be a rarity, but once back I’ll definitely write a series of posts about the trip with photos of the various places we get to.

As you can imagine I’m feeling both excited and trepidatious about the trip, but the group going is full of great guys and we’ll be with the very capable Fr. Behr and Fr. Rentel.  The other really neat thing is that the senior trip of seminarians from Holy Cross in Brookline will be in Thessaloniki and on Mt. Athos during the times we will, so we’re hoping to meet up at some point while there.  All is in God’s hands!

As it will be my first time in Turkey and Greece I’m looking forward to seeing the Mediterranean and experiencing those different countries firsthand.  And having a real gyro (amongst other things…).  Getting to visit Mt. Athos for such an extended period of time will be, I hope, the highlight of the trip.  We’ll be staying at Aghiou Pavlou, the Holy Monastery of St. Paul on the western side of the peninsula.  Because of the extended stay we’ll also be helping with the daily work at the monastery so we’ll be experiencing life there in a much fuller way than most pilgrims who only make brief sojourns at the monasteries.

So that’s the update for today, I’ll be posting about the trip to Montreal this past weekend in the coming days so stay tuned!


Montreal (Again)



So I once again find myself in Montreal, this time getting ready to perform in a concert of Byzantine Chant at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church here.  The Boston Byzantine Choir was invited up to take part in this event, and while it’s pretty much the worst time possible to be away since it’s nearing the end of the semester, I’m looking forward to it.  

The internet is a bit spotty here, so posting will be scarce , but I’ll recap next week. 

Your daily dose of adorable: Boston Edition

This is Isaiah, he’s a five month old golden retriever that’s part of a group of dogs that come to sites of tragedy to help people heal.  The group, K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs  are a church based group that brings these dogs to provide comfort to those who experienced trauma.  It’s really wonderful.

Head over to the article Comfort Dogs Come to Boston to see more of these dogs’ visit to Boston.  Here’s a sample from the article,

Five golden retrievers made their way around Boston Wednesday, visiting some of the 176 victims of Monday’s marathon attack. Maggie, Addie, Luther, Ruthie, and Isaiah are comfort dogs, dispatched to various communities in the aftermath of tragedies. They’re trained like service dogs, but focus on providing emotional support.

“The dogs work for about two to three hours at a time, and then we make sure to give them a break,” Lizzie Brose, a handler for the K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs, told BuzzFeed. “They really do absorb the feelings of the people around them.”

There are about a dozen dogs in the K-9 Parish, which is based at a Lutheran church in Chicago. This isn’t the only comfort dog group in the country, but it is the most popular group, and the only one that travels extensively around the country. Other comfort dog groups typically work locally out of churches, hospitals, and universities.

Bahstin: Wicked Awesome


In today’s liturgical theology class the topic on the syllabus was that of the funerals of priests and children.  It’s been a tough week for friends, family, for the area where I grew up, and for many, many people.  So, as you can imagine, I wasn’t really looking forward to talking about funerals.  But what ended up happening was a reminder of the power of the Resurrection in the form of the services, their prayers, and the reasons behind it.  So it was actually a comforting class, one that helped remind all of us of the mercy and love of God.

It’s good to be reminded of that mercy and goodness, and it’s good to be reminded that people are good.  It’s been pretty amazing to see the outpouring of support for the people of Boston.  It’s true that the whole nation has been affected, even the wider world.  I can’t tell you how awesome it was to see this on Yankee Stadium:

Wicked awesome.

It was also amazing to see Yankee’s fans linking arms and singing along to “Sweet Caroline,” a song which has been a staple of Red Sox games for the last fifteen years or so.  It was pretty cool to see.  It was, in fact, wicked awesome.  I have been teased frequently for using the phrase “wicked _____” in conversation here.  It’s funny how when you move somewhere new you start realizing all the weird local phrases or the odd pronunciation you use.

Bostonians, and more generally New Englanders, are tough.  We slough through five or so months of cold, bleak weather.  We have to deal with the Green Line; roads and alleyways that do not obey the laws of space and time (“yeah, I know where you’re trying to go, but you can’t get there from here”);  Renters’ Christmas (Sept. 1), on which you can find enough furniture on the sidewalks to furnish a house.  And then there’s all the other awesome stuff about Boston.  There’s the MFA and other museums, fantastic restaurants like Regina Pizzaria and the wings at Coolidge Corner Clubhouse; we have all the parks and paths through the city, with so many cool historical sites; there’s the music in the churches, in Symphony Hall, the New England Conservatory, and all the clubs and venues that have great music all the time.  Then there are the Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots, and Celtics.  Ah, my heart is aflutter.

While there are definitely downsides to living in Boston (read: August), it’s nonetheless one of my favorite places to be.  I have so many wonderful memories from my time there.  The one time we walked to get a cone of ice cream at J.P. Lick’s during a blizzard that dumped a foot and a half of snow.  Or the annual Greek Independence Day parade the seminary participates in.  And of course there were all the trips to Tasty Burger in the early days of the establishment.  And, of course, my “going away party” that I will never forget.  Then just all the times my friends and I would go into the city to find something to do, and never being disappointed.

I do miss the city, and my friends there, and I am very grateful for the time I spent there.  And I’m also grateful to be where I am now, with my friends here, and the time spent in NYC (although I’ve yet to have a good crock of clam chowder down here…).

So go out and enjoy the city you’re in right now.  Enjoy time with your friends and family, go to a good restaurant, go hear a good band.  Go and be the good people you are.