The Manhattan Declaration – Thumbs Up or Down?!

I have recently been informed of the “Manhattan Declaration” that surfaced last fall. It can be read here.

It has generated not a little controversy among the faithful as all “declarations” and “statements” and “manifestos” of its kind have over the centuries. Some think it is, to coin a phrase a lot of “sound and fury signifying nothing”. Others believe it is a step forward, albeit awkward and a little uncoordinated. And still others contend that it is one of the best things to come down the pike in a long time and it is long overdue.

Here are a couple of places where you can find articulations of the reasons people have or have not attached their name to the document:

What are your convictions about the document and documents of this kind? Do they serve a purpose? What are the criteria for such a document? Can there really be an Ecumenical Document while the Church remains divided?

Hard questions… Good questions… Questions of identity and the fruits of identity in the public arena. Questions we must ask. Questions that compel or drive us, like Jesus, into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan regarding our identity – “If you are the Church, then …”

Fr. Thomas

Baptismo – The Way, The Truth, and The Life

A wonderful reflection, by Barbara Livingston, can be found here. Read it before you read the following…

I would like to reflect on Barbara’s (and Bill’s) reflection.

Embrace, embrace, embrace…  Immerse, immerse, immerse… Be in the present totally – immersion – crushed to (as regards) death by death and expanded to Life (animated and filled)by resurrection in Christ Jesus. With much vigilance, constancy, and focus I/we fight the inner battle against avoidance of the truth; delusional thinking, and enslavement to our passions (death-dealing tendencies that control me/us). St. Cyril says in his Catechetical Lectures that one of the fruits of baptism is continual identification (really not figuratively) with Christ Jesus in His dying.

Yes, yes, yes… But, but, but …

My/our tendency is to escape from the truth of the present, which is full union with Christ Jesus, and flee to the past or the future or reshape the present into something it isn’t.

The fruit of the discipline you mention in Hebrews21.1 is shared with us in verse 11: “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Finally, over time (for it does, as you remind us, in concert with all the saints TAKE TIME), the mind is purified and descends into the heart there to abide in peaceful union (intimacy) with the Savior.

The present is the ONLY place of joy. The present is the ONLY place where I/we can participate in the life of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Union with God is possible and real ONLY in the present… Why? Because, as you so aptly put it, that is where I/we are… We are NOT in the past or the future or the fantasy/illusion about our self-strength or unfulfilled dreams about what “should have been”. We are here and now. It is here and now that the fullness of God’s mercy/grace is present and available to me/us for practical/real (not theoretical) transformation.

The ruthlessly trusting embrace of The Present One (otherwise known as “I AM” [not the tense] and as God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at work) in fullness “just as I am” is the doorway into greater and deeper “intimacy” (functional union) with the Lord.

The fragrance of salvation is, therefore, the fragrance of embracing the crushing joy of the present with trust. We are myrrh in the crushing/raising hands of the Living God. Let me quote from an article by Rebecca Totilo in which she outlines the significance of myrrh and crushing:

The Hebrew word for Myrrh is Mowr which means distilled and comes from the root word Marar which means bitterness.

During the Messiah’s final agonizing hours in the Garden of Gethsemane, the weight of the world’s sins crushed our Savior like a wine press, causing Him to sweat great tears of blood. His bitter sufferings can be compared to Myrrh, a highly-prized spice used for perfumes and incense, extracted by piercing the tree’s heartwood and allowing the gum to trickle out and harden into bitter, aromatic red droplets called, “tears.” When the myrrh flows from the tree, it is distilled in bitterness.

As joint heirs with the Messiah, we are to share in His afflictions according to 2 Corinthians 1:5, so that His bride can be triumphant through the bitterness of suffering. Myrrh represents the bitter sufferings of Yeshua as a man on earth, whereby He learned obedience unto death by emptying himself of His own will (Hebrews 5:8, Philippians 2:7-8).1

Baptismo / Immersion – it is a fearful thing to fall (intentionally commend ourselves into) the hands of the living God!! But the fearful thing is the ONLY THING – the ONLY WAY, TRUTH AND LIFE – offered to us by Christ Jesus. Be crushed in the hands of God and be infused with the Life of God. His life becomes your life as you “expand” in Him and are filled by Him and live in Him and He in you.

Thanks Barbara and William…

The Lord bless us all in our dying and rising our baptismo our immersion unto life in the present to “The Present One”.

Fr. Thomas


The Lenten Spring

Lent is here! As we begin our pilgrimage of “joyful sorrow”, I believe you will find the article here to be a help. 

Consider the following passage from Hebrews (12.1-13): 

[1] Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
[2] looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
[3] Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
[4] In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
[5] And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? — “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor lose courage when you are punished by him.
[6] For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
[7] It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
[8] If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
[9] Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
[10] For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
[11] For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
[12] Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,
[13] and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 

Our pilgrimage is in the community of not only those tested and trusted brothers and sisters who constitute the “church militant”, but those who have finished the race we now run and can play a crucial role in our transformation. 

The Lord bless our journey toward: 

A sacred Pascha today hath been shown unto us:
a Pascha new and holy,
a Pascha mystical,
a Pascha all venerable,
a Pascha that is Christ the Redeemer;
a Pascha immaculate, a great Pascha;
a Pascha of the faithful;
a Pascha that hath opened the gates of Paradise unto us;
a Pascha that doth sanctify all the faithful.  

                                                              The Paschal Stichera – Fifth Tone
Fr. Thomas