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Thank you, Father. I hope you are fully recovered. It was a wonderful day, but I missed seeing you. Hopefully our paths will cross before too long. I can't remember if your parish is new or old calendar, but whenever it comes I pray Christmas is indeed blessed for you and yours!

Because a squatter in my kidney rendered me inmate in one of the local hospices, I was unable to attend -- much as I fervently desired -- a certain ordination to the Holy Diaconate of the Orthodox Church on Saturday, 16 December 2006 in Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Johnstown.

So I will say it here, since I didn't say it there:

To the newly ordained servant of God, Deacon James: Axios! Axios! Axios!

And this: Na Mnohaja L'Ita!

Thank you, Father, for this meditation. For some reason it seems that from a societal perspective this Christmas is unusually bereft of substance -- which is saying a lot. So much noise, so much glitter, but so little thought and prayer. It is as though the anthill is simply too busy to pay attention to what is being said. In a way, this is worse than undisguised hostility to the Messenger. It is apathy and a forced, self-centered artificial happiness. If only they would stop for just one moment, and listen. If only...

Of course, it is our task to try to cut through the veneer to the heart of the matter, and help bring people to the place where they can stop, and turn inward to seek the new born Christ. In this world, that is not a popular lesson! Yet, as time goes on I am finding that the sole path on which to approach the Nativity properly is in reverent silence. From our silence flows true joy, and a genuine love for others -- the Christmas spirit which we seek so desperately. May all of us find the lesson you teach!

Way back from the darkness next to the shrine of the Theotokos in the nave, lamps flickering with light....

Amen

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