I occasionally write about the lives of saints, a task which I want to do more frequently. Today I will write about a most unusual saint, a most modern saint. Matushka Olga Michael of Kwethluk village in Alaska. St. Olga is most unusual in that she was a native American Yup’ik Eskimo woman, and her children are still alive. She died not long ago in November 1979. St. Olga Michael is an important saint in these times because she is known for helping women who have been abused, particularly those women who have suffered rape and sexual abuse. Continue reading
St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre can rightfully be considered an “American” saint. His feast day falls on May 7, and he is buried near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
St. Alexis was born in Austria-Hungary, in 1854, to poor Carpatho-Russian parents. Carpatho-Russians are a Slavic ethnic group who hail from an area in Eastern Europe that is centered on the Carpathian Mountains. Their historical territory has often been divided and traded between between the Russian, Austrian, and German Empires. These areas are now located in present day Ukraine, southeastern Poland, and Slovakia.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Fr. Alexis was ordained a priest in 1878. In 1889 his presence was requested, and he was appointed to serve as pastor to a Greek-Catholic parish in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Fr. Alexis then departed for America.
Fr. Alexis is notable for leading a large group of Eastern-rite Catholics back into the Orthodox Christian faith of their forefathers. This was prompted partly by the strong hostility of the American Roman Catholic hierarchy at that time to Eastern-rite practices. Fr Alexis contacted the Russian consul in San Francisco, and asked to be put in touch with a Russian Orthodox bishop. Following correspondence and personal meetings with Bishop Vladimir of the Russian church in San Francisco, Fr. Alexis and 361 of his parishioners were received into Orthodoxy in 1891.
From that time forward, Fr Alexis worked tirelessly, at great personal sacrifice, to proclaim the Orthodox faith, especially to those still attached to Byzantine Catholicism. For long periods of time, he received little or no salary and worked in a bakery to support himself. Through his work, thousands of Christians in North America were led into the fullness of the Orthodox Faith during his lifetime. The fruits of his work can still be seen in the present day Orthodox Church in America which has historical connections to the Russian mission planted in North America.
St Alexis reposed in 1909; He was officially glorified in 1994. his tomb and holy relics can be venerated at St. Tikhon’s Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania.
St. John Chrysostom (c. 349-407 A.D.) is a saint who is shared by both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches. He was an important early church father. St. John left us many important legacies including the “Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom” which is the most widely used liturgy in Christendom after the Roman Catholic Mass.
The video below was recorded on 20 October 2013 in Kefallonia, Greece on the feast day of St. Gerasimos, the island’s patron. His incorrupt relic is kept in the Holy Monastery there which bears his name, and on this feast day it was taken out and processed as a blessing to the island, and for the numerous pilgrims gathered. This sacred relic, even its shadow, carries the Grace of the Holy Spirit, and it is customary for the suffering and eager faithful to line up underneath the spot, over which it will pass, in order to receive a special blessing. Much like a medical scanner, it passes over the people often relieving them of their illnesses, pain, and especially demons. At approximately 1:15 in the video, you will see a young woman crying out (in Greek) “You are burning me”, as the relic passes over her. She then yells for the Saint to go away, screaming, among other things, “Leave Gerasimos … you made my sorcery go away … they (the demons) left me … you destroyed me Gerasimos … you made the two women depart … go away!” As the relic leaves her, one man can be heard remarking “You see what sorcery does.”
It is truly astounding.
We are taught in the Orthodox Church that there is no such thing as a coincidence.
What follows below is the Epistle reading from Wednesday, 26 June 2013 (13 June Old Style), the very day the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court presumably paving the way for legalization of homosexual “marriage” in the USA.
For those who may not be aware, the services of most Christian churches follow an annual cycle. The daily readings from Holy Scripture in the Orthodox church are not chosen at random, they repeat each year according to their place in the liturgical calendar. It so happens that the Epistle reading of 26 June was from 1Romans which the Supreme Court was unlikely to be aware of. I believe this juxtaposition of temporal and spiritual guidance is no coincidence, it is a reminder.
The Book of Romans was likely written between A.D. 56-58 by St. Paul, and he has just reached out from across 20 centuries to tap everyone on the shoulder.
Glory to God for all things. +++
(Romans 1:18-27) (j.s. – I have boldfaced the relevant verses)
18. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,
25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.