View is poised to be a unique experience for all who spend some time
here; it's a monastic environment, calm, restful, and peaceful. Everyone
has free access to the church, and the grounds. It's the perfect venue
for a retreat of this kind.
Youth will often be questioning their
faith: "Do I believe? Am I an Orthodox Christian because I believe it,
or because my parents are Orthodox?" ":I had no choice but to grow up
Orthodox!" It's normal when children become teenagers, especially
seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, they start to think: "Well, what do I
think, do I really believe in all this? Why do I have to fast? Why do I
have to pray? Is it because my parents forced me? Why, why, why?"
Q: Because they have no choice, they are just growing up?
If you push them, children rebel. These last few days they experienced
their faith, away from the usual home environment. They spent every day
in a structured but relaxed manner with more than enough time to have
any of their questions answered. Remember yesterday, when Fr. Elia was
talking about the Holy Icon of Saint Nicholas: he took the Icon out of
the case, turning it around, showing everyone. Then he placed it on the
table, made a cross with his finger wiping away the myrrh, then, after
five, ten minutes, he asked the people assembled: "OK, find the cross,
what happened to it?" (It couldn't be seen as the flowing myrrh just
filled in that area).
saw the icon without rush. It was not as usually happens in the
parishes: only viewed in the Kivot, only being able to quickly venerate
and pray before the icon, being kept moving along because there are so
many people in line. Instead they got to see the icon outside of the
frame: a piece of plywood with a paper icon print on it -- pouring our
fragrant myrrh - That is something that they'll never forget. With their
own eyes, they saw a miracle-working icon. In their darkest moments,
the memory of seeing the visibly flowing myrrh, with its heavenly
fragrance, will once again sustain and strengthen them. It reinforces
one's faith: God is real.
Q: During the talk you gave, I liked how
you said to those assembled: "It's important to touch Orthodoxy." -
Because we can teach them languages, we can teach them Russian, and they
can talk in Russian about the world around them, but it doesn't matter
in what language you are saying something, it is more important what you
are saying in that language. I watched a video where Fr. Peter
Perekrestov from San Francisco is telling how they are running a High
School: High school kids, they are speaking Russian, but they are not
speaking about holiness, they talk in Russian about the things around
them, about iPods and such. It's not easy to teach them to be Orthodox.
what Metropolitan Vitaly said many years ago, at a clergy conference in
Atlanta, Georgia: "My priests, teach your children how to pray, and
when they are in church, show them how to feel the grace of God in their
hearts." A priest must try to get them to realize, especially during
the Paschal service, what is this joy that is felt. That's when it's the
strongest, especially at Pascha, but it's anytime, there's so much
grace that's coming out in the church during the services. So Vladyka
said: "Teach them to understand when they feel that in their hearts: the
difference between the evil feelings and temptations, how that feels in
the heart, how God's grace feels in the heart, let them learn the
difference, instruct them so that when they become older, when they are
confronted with different ideas about the church or even different
groups that call themselves Christian, or any other group, they'll know
right away what is artificial, this isn't right, maybe it looks good,
their icons are nice and everything is beautiful, but something is
rotten, something is not the same, it doesn't feel the same." You can
argue that it's subjective: Some people will argue about that.
I think also, that if they receive Holy Communion, the bad is not going
to get inside them, the world around them is touching them, but not
getting inside them, because they are different, they don't have the
same "frequency", and they don't get resonance with this.
job the pastor [has], regardless of what age the person is, to teach
his flock, himself first of all, just how to come to church and quiet
down, how to focus on what's being said and just to experience the
services. It is not theater; we do not come to be entertained or to
entertain. In the church services (especially the Vigils) we learn how
to struggle. True, God's grace provides a shield for us, but we are
still responsible for what we allow into our thoughts. Unfortunately,
even if we commune regularly we can still fall. Don't ever make that
mistake (thinking one's self is immune to temptations!). However,
piously receiving our Lord's Body and Blood strengthens our soul, we
feed our spiritual powers with our Lord living within us. So yes, evil
will have a much harder time attaching to us, or "resonating" as you put
So how do we teach this? Well, we all, individually, have a
responsibility in this. But first of all to make the church a place of
prayer, where we are very careful of our conduct during divine services.
beautiful truth, in my opinion, that is being overlooked in some
churches, is the understanding that the Divine Liturgy is a continuous
dialogue between the people and the priest with God, talking back and
forth: one continuous, uninterrupted prayer. What happens in many
choirs, is this persistent tuning up! We hear: "taa TA taaa," before
every hymn, before every "Amen." Just tune up one time, at the
beginning, if you really need to. Or rather, instead take your pitch
from the deacon, from the priest, there's your tone, use that, the pitch
from that priest, and that's where you start singing. ** Otherwise the
service itself becomes a distraction! Imagine that! The service itself
becomes the distraction: some of the churches I visited in the past, I
found it difficult to pray because of the constant break in continuity.
The priest finishes reading his "silent prayers" ready for the next part
and the timing is wrong because the choir is delayed while tuning up!
So to sum up: the Liturgy needs to be a constant, continual prayer to
God. Not chopped up. It is hard enough to quiet down our thoughts and
enter into a state of prayer.
**How many of you tune up when you
sing along with a song you hear on the radio? None of you! You hear the
song, then adapt your voice (for better or worse) and sing along!
Q: But sometimes, priests have bad voices.
Yes, the Russian saying is "a bear stepped on his ear!" Well, then the
choir director should direct them, when he (or she) is listening to the
priest. One can already figure out more or less where that priest is
putting his voice. Even if it's all over the place, you can still find a
common ground, so the choir director could start tuning up then, just a
little bit, not doing the whole tuning-up bit every time. The point is
to keep the service in a continuous flow. That's really all you need to
understand, then the prayer is not interrupted, it's one continuous
dialogue of the priest and the flock, as one family praying to God. It's
very important. This is how prayers are answered, this is how services
can elevate everyone, how the prayers enter the heart. Teach your
children that this is a dialogue, it's not a theater, it's not
entertainment - The reason I bring this up is because otherwise we are
simply appealing to the dushevni (of the soul) not the dukhovni (of the
spirit), and are to some extent fooling ourselves - well, that's my
Q: About this place - how do you like this place, and how do you see its future?
love this place! Years ago, in the 1980's we lived in Mahopac, New
York. When Matushka and I would go to Jordanville, we would drive by
this place. It was Roman Catholic residence at the time, an old age
home. Every time we'd pass by, I'd look at this place and think: "What a
beautiful setting! This should be an Orthodox church." I'm not making
this up: I thought this should be an Orthodox church. When I heard that
we had a church now at Mountain View , I couldn't believe it, because as
I mentioned as we drove by, something always attracted me to strongly
gaze at the place. At the consecration last year, a few people actually,
several people, mentioned the same thing. We talked about it. They all
said: "Yes, we went to Jordanville and saw this place, always thinking
it would make a beautiful church." And we would think that it never
would be so for the simple reason that there already was Jordanville
nearby, and why would you make another monastery church here, and that
there's not that many people." Looking back one might say that our Lord
was telling us, letting us know of the potential future of this place.
In closing, everyone needs to realize that this is a beautiful place. It
can be a great spiritual center for our church.
Archpriest Andrew Kencis
Mountain View, February 2014.