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MEMORY ETERNAL - Archpriest Vadim Pogrebniak - UPDATED - 05/18/18

Archpriest Vadim Pogrebniak, 80, Pastor Emeritus of Saint Spiridon Cathedral, Seattle, WA and former Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America’s Diocese of the West, fell asleep in the Lord on the afternoon of the Leavetaking of Pascha—Wednesday, May 16, 2018. In 1980, Father Vadim assumed the pastorate of Saint Spiridon’s, from which he retired on December 31, 2007. Earlier, he served parishes in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York, as well as Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco. In addition to his pastoral ministry, he was widely known for his expertise in the field of liturgical music and choral conducting.

The Funeral Service for a Priest will be celebrated at Three Hierarchs Romanian Orthodox Church, 6402 226th Street SW, Mountlake Terrace, WA on Monday, May 21 at 6:00 p.m. The Divine Liturgy will be celebrated on Tuesday, May 22 at 9:00 a.m., followed by interment at Edmonds Memorial Cemetery, Edmonds, WA. A repast will follow at the church. Father Vadim is survived by his beloved wife, Matushka Helen, and their sons Kyrie and Deema.

Additional information and the schedule of services will be posted as they become available.

May Father Vadim’s memory be eternal!

Retired Chancellor Father MacKinnon Honored - UPDATED PICTURES - 05/14/18

Our beloved former chancellor, Archpriest Ian MacKinnon, was awarded the dignity of wearing a priestly mitre and presented with a Synodal Gramota marking his 40th Anniversary of Priesthood and retirement at a hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday, May 13, 2018. Seven priests and four deacons joined His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin and His Grace, Bishop Daniel in the celebration of the Liturgy at Elevation of the Holy Cross Orthodox Church, Sacramento, California.

His Eminence remarked on Fr. Ian's years of faithful service as chancellor, first to Bishop Tikhon and then to Archbishop Benjamin, and his pastoral care for the faithful of Holy Cross. The archbishop noted the many sacrifices Matushka Nina and their family have made and the support they have given him through out his priesthood.

Link to some of the festivity pictures here.

Performance of Paschal Poems - 05/10/18

by Priest Andrew Smith

Each year, rain or shine, April or May, Old Calendar or New, the exciting and world changing cry of the Paschal Greeting, “Christ is risen!” ushers joy into all of our lives at the end of our candle-lit processions. As we pour into the church singing the Paschal Troparion, truly, all is filled with light. The next day, at Agape Vespers, though there are often fewer worshippers, God’s saving plan has lost none of its luster as we hear the Gospel proclaimed in many languages.

Then vigil and liturgy for Thomas Sunday come and in many parishes we notice how so few of those who answered “Indeed He is risen!” at the paschal vigil have come to bear witness to Antipascha. This can quickly become a downward spiral that reduces that exuberant shout of joy on the first Sunday (and first day of the new creation) to a tired, hoarse wheeze by the fourth or fifth Sundays of the Pentecostarion, the ‘flowery’ Triodion containing the hymns of the Paschal season.

Anna Rikhter, parishioner of The Nativity of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church in Menlo Park, CA, had other ideas. With the blessing of Fr Andrew Smith, she distributed a list of poems by Russian writers about the feast of Pascha ( to church school students. Each student wishing to participate chose a poem, committed it to memory, and practiced it after church school on Sundays during Great Lent.

REFLECTION: Social Media and Spiritual Warfare - 04/30/18

Monk Cosmas
St. John of Shanghai Monastery

Can the demons read our minds? Do they know what we are thinking? Do they know what we are feeling?

Okay, those are trick questions. The Fathers say that the demons do not read our minds and cannot peer into our hearts. What they do, instead, is to throw all sorts of provocations and temptations our way and watch for our reactions. Sort of trial and error, you might say. Then when they see us react to some particular kind of temptation, they toss more of it in our direction. If we react to the temptation of food, they send us more thoughts about delicious meals and snacks. If we respond to images of wealth, we get more images of money and luxury. If we show a weakness about sex, we receive more provocations of the same sort.

That means that our part in spiritual warfare consists primarily in not reacting, so that we don’t give them information that they can use against us.

Now let’s take a look at something completely different, “sponsored content” on social media on the internet.

What happens when you click “like” or “dislike” on a company’s ad or on a paid post about some political or social issue? Hmm… suddenly you start getting more of the same from that company or organization, and you also begin to see similar things from other companies or organizations. What is working behind the scenes is what computer people call an algorithm.

These algorithms seem to keep track of everything we do online and pass information from one program to another. I have even had the experience of looking up a book on the web site of the local public library, only to have amazon try to sell me the same book less than a minute later.

Can these algorithms read our minds? Do they know what we are thinking? Do they know what we are feeling?

You might laugh at this point. Algorithms act pretty much like artificial intelligence demons, don’t they? Let’s not indulge in paranoia and suppose that software engineers deliberately made them resemble demons, but we Orthodox Christians are fortunate. We can treat these provocations in the same way as we treat any other provocations. We can use the same wisdom and self-control when we are online as in other parts of our lives, and not give away information to algorithms that we would deny to demons.

Guide the Young - UPDATED - 04/12/18

by Father Innocent, Abbot, St. John's Monastery

Orthodox LIFE School 2018

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This oft repeated adage carries a practical truth that can rightly be called common sense. Yet how often do we, as a Church, fall short in heeding this practical advice? We fall short, most particularly, in how we teach, equip, and prepare our young people to assimilate the life of the Church and stand firm in the Faith as they enter an independent life in the world. 

In his address at our last Diocesan Assembly last year, His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin, warned us of the increasing loss of young adults from our parishes. He described the now familiar pattern of seeing a child grow up in the parish, come to services, graduate from high school, and leave home for college never to return to any Orthodox parish thereafter. This sad trend leaves our parishes bereft of the strength and vitality of our young. More pressingly, it drastically reduces the number of young people who choose a priestly vocation and go on to seminary. We face a dilemma: many older parish priests seek retirement only to discover there are no younger priests to replace them. We can blame ourselves for delivering a shallow spiritual life to our young people with the resulting scarcity of vocations and continuity in Church life, altogether. Clearly, Sunday morning spiritual life alone is insufficient to strengthen and fortify a young person launching out on his own. It is imperative that we give the fullness of the faith to our young so that they can live in it and thrive on their own. Without this foundation, we are “planning to fail.” More than ever before, the world has become a spiritual meat grinder that destroys young souls. Yet, there is hope.

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