Vol 4: No 4. Behold, Dying We Live!

April 28, 2013

Behold, Dying We Live!

This month, Wonder offers a small collection of reflections on the subject of death and dying – a timely subject as our Church prepares this week to celebrate our Lord’s passion and resurrection. We hope that you find the words  enjoyable and edifying, and we wish you all joy as we celebrate our Lord’s three-day Pascha.  –The editors.

A Christian Ending to our Life  by Mr Logan Johnson

Death as Preparation for Life by Archpriest Steven Voytovich

Death Gives Life by Albert S Rossi

The Christian Concept of Death by Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann


More information about our authors and contributors can be found here.

A Christian Ending to Our Life…

April 28, 2013

A Christian ending to our life…

Logan Johnson

People come from all over the world to the hospital I work for in order to receive a miracle.  More often than not, these patients and their families have exhausted all other options of treatment and they find themselves, of all places, in Cleveland, Ohio.  Some patients get their miracle.  Others do not.

hospitalbedAs a hospital chaplain death comes as daily as the bread we ask God to give us.  I used to believe that death was what happened when medicine failed.  Most of the medical professionals I work with personalize this idea: Death, says the doctor, is what happens when I fail.  Also in this line of thinking, death is what happens when God fails.  Death drives us to have our chests cracked open, our throats intubated, and our nerves blocked so that we can have five or ten or twenty more years with the things we love.  My time as a hospital chaplain has helped me no longer to think of life and death in this way.  As Christians, we believe that the Author of Life is revealed to be God while hanging dead on the Cross.  On Pascha morning, we celebrate the fact that the tomb is no longer a place for decaying flesh but is now the bridal-chamber where God consummates His love for Humanity.  I heard these truths proclaimed in church since I was young, but it wasn’t until I got to know death personally that I finally learned them by experience.

I was asleep in the on-call room one night when the pager went off.  Chaplain interns and residents in my department rotate these midnight-8AM shifts on a weekly basis where we are the only chaplains on-site and are primarily responsible for responding to deaths.  After getting dressed in the dark I called the nurse of the unit that paged me and learned that a woman—a fifty-four year old mother of two—had died.  I tied my tie, put on my ID badge, and walked to the Palliative Care unit where she had spent her last days.  What greeted me was pandemonium.  Outside the room several family members wept loudly.  Children—nieces and nephews and children of the dead woman—cried in the lounge.  In the center of it all was the woman’s mother who looked at me blankly when I introduced myself and asked, over the body of her daughter,mourning“Why did this happen?  How could God let her die?”  I didn’t then and I still don’t have an answer for her.  I held her, I cried with her, and an hour later I left the unit and the grieving family to collapse on my bed.  I couldn’t fall back asleep but instead asked God the same question: Why?  There was nothing painless, blameless, or peaceful about her passing.  For her and her family death was not some mystical union with the divine—it was blasphemous separation from those she loved.

The next day I found myself in a room of a patient on one of my cardio-vascular units.  The man in the bed had had a heart attack and stroke, a machine was pressing air into his body through a tube in his throat, and his wife of fifty-nine years as well as his adult daughter were watching on.  The chance for physical recovery was hopeless and a nurse was beginning to withdraw the technology that was keeping him alive.  As the man was a retired church organist who was always involved in the life of his community, his family wanted a chaplain to be there with him in his final moments.  After leading the two in prayer, and watching with tears in my eyes as this woman kissed her husband for the last time, the tubes came out and we waited with him as his breathing slowed and his heart stopped.  In those twenty minutes, I listened as they remembered stories of his life and I was present with them as the man who had loved them for decades painlessly, blamelessly, and peacefully passed away.  The moment continues to be one of the holiest and most beautiful things I have ever experienced.

oldhandsI walked out of the hospital after coming downstairs from the man’s death.  Nothing about the outside world had changed in the twenty-four hours since I had met the woman who had lost her daughter and the mother of her grandchildren.  I had recently come from meeting the world’s newest widow, and I knew that God was present in every breath of cold air I was taking in.  Death, I finally learned, is an objective fact of life.  It is our reaction to death, which is often decided by the manner in which a loved one dies, that either draws us closer to or drives us further from God.  We ask for a painless, blameless, and peaceful death, not because it is the “Christian” way to die—as if Jews or Muslims or atheists don’t want such a death—but because it is so much easier to see God’s providence in the ending of a long life well-lived, than it is to discern His will in the death of a child or a young mother.  And this is why Christ had to die in the way that He did.  In the Old Testament it is a sign of divine favor to die surrounded by loved ones after many years of prosperity.  To be condemned by an occupying force and hung on a cross while your mother and friend watch is as senseless and blasphemous as dying on the Pediatric unit, or dying when you have not yet seen your son finish high school.  Christ came so that every death—including the painful, blameful, and peace-less—may be as revelatory of the Kingdom of God as Isaac’s.  So while we pray for a death that is free of pain, we also know that a death in a Roman arena eaten by animals like St. Ignatius or in a mine shaft like Saint Elizabeth the New Martyr, can be as holy as being kissed by your spouse before passing quietly in your bed.  These are all Christian endings, and all of them are painless, blameless, and peaceful in the light of the Resurrection.

Death as Preparation for Life

April 28, 2013

Death as Preparation for Life

Fr Steven Voytovich

Twenty-one years ago, as a young man and newly ordained priest, I began a year of residency Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). This is a full-time year-long program yielding three units of CPE. It was my hope that this opportunity for clinical training would be formative in shaping this new role that in two months had barely moved beyond the wonderful and new sacramental experience of grace and joy! My father died from complications of cancer three years before in his fifties that I am just now entering, and at the time I had been married for about two years. All of these were new experiences awaiting deeper meaning through God’s timing in terms of reflection and integration.chaplain

In shaping my rule of hospital visitations, I had two groups of patients simultaneously calling out for attention: all the patients on my assigned units, and the Orthodox Christians who were hospitalized in this community where numerous Orthodox parishes were located. One such patient was Anthony (who happened to bear the same name as my father). He was a young man who was just a year older than me. He had come in for surgery for difficulty swallowing. While in surgery he was found to be filled with cancer. He was referred to me as a patient on one of my assigned units, in need of pastoral care after being told this difficult news. I additionally discovered he was an Orthodox Christian. Somehow God’s hand was in our meeting.

Anthony struck me as a fairly typical young man. He was single, had recently moved out of his house that was shaped by strong ethnic identity, and was pursuing career advancement with all that goes with it. In terms of faith, he was like many our age, moving beyond childhood faith and beginning to explore his own relationship with God. For Anthony this meant some disconnection from the rhythm of Orthodox Church life, although he enjoyed family gatherings where he spent time with nephews and nieces. This news hit him very hard, especially as he had only been given months to live. His family was unable to hear any of what they were told, continuing to push Anthony to eat in order to get well and come home. So there I was, sent to journey with this young man almost my age through the remaining time of his life.

In the course of our visits, Anthony was incredibly moved to frame his illness as a call from God. He so readily spoke of the important dimensions of his life during our time together, and was anxious to “put things in order” spiritually, re-enkindling his faith. When he requested to receive communion, I sought permission from his priest from another jurisdiction who readily agreed in the midst of his own struggle to come to terms with Anthony’s diagnosis. Our pastoral visits from then regularly included his receiving Holy Communion in the midst of deep spiritual exploration. The time came when Anthony shared being scared about dying.  Though I had witnessed my father’s death, what could I say to this man my own age? Instead I listened intensively and journeyed with him in the midst of his questions.chaplain hands

Our journey was so rich and meaningful that we became less focused on the day-to-day physical deterioration unfolding. Occasionally I would visit when his family was present. They continued to deeply struggle with the reality of Anthony’s life ending before them, and Anthony himself was upset that his efforts to share with them his journey were met with interruptions where they sought instead for him to take food to get better.

Anthony was prepared for the end of his life. By this I refer not only to being sacramentally prepared, but he had made peace: with his terminal illness abruptly hastening the end of his life, with his relationship with God, and with the inability of his family to be an integral part of his end-of-life journey. I do not claim any real credit around the depth of his preparation, though I marveled at the depth of this spirituality as his final days drew near. Anthony had become a gift to me in so many ways about the resiliency of the human soul even in the midst of such overwhelming circumstances. Without ever having stopped to think about it, my priestly role was being shaped and formed in numerous ways during these months.

panikhidaAnthony’s death was peaceful. The parish priest cordially invited me to concelebrate his fortieth day Pannikhida, having heard from Anthony that I had been sojourning with him, and I readily accepted. His family, however, still struggled with their denial of his terminal illness and death even after his death. They could not be consoled in having lost their young son. By now from my training I was aware that they needed their own time and space to eventually let go of their denial.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have journeyed with Anthony as person and as pastor. My pastoral presence with grieving families continues to be informed by my experience of journeying with Anthony and his family.  I commemorate him regularly along with family members at Proskemedia. As person, I too was diagnosed with cancer just a few short months after Anthony died. Anthony’s courageous journey now became inspirational to me on another level in coming to terms with this diagnosis that had taken two young men named Anthony. This is the twentieth anniversary of Anthony’s death. Later this year, God-willing, I will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of life following my diagnosis. Memory eternal: to my father Anthony, and to Anthony who became my brother in Christ. Thanks be to God for all things.

Death Gives Life

April 28, 2013

Death Gives Life

 Albert S Rossi, PhD

Perhaps you’ve had a near death experience?  I did.

I was kayaking alone in the Allegheny River near Pittsburgh.  The weather was balmy, the shy was clear and I was serene.  Two parents were in a kayak and their two young children were is a kayak nearby.  Since I saw parents willing to allow their children to be alone in a kayak I felt safe.  I had a life vest and knew how to kayak.  Yes, I knew the river was deep and the current was mildly swift, a perfect setting for a leisurely afternoon in the sun.  Tragedy struck without warning.  I saw an empty water bottle floating nearby.  As an act of environmental cleanliness, I decided to row over and pick it up.  Seemed like a commendable act.  I got along side the bottle and reached over to pick it up.   I was instantly capsized.  kayak

Stunned, bewildered and demoralized, I tried to think of what to do.  There was no one in sight in any direction.  I decided to hang onto the upside down kayak.  Too slippery.   The kayak was at a 45-degree angle in the water and slowly moving down stream faster than I was swimming.  I looked into the water and saw my small waterproof bag slowly descending into parts unknown.  I forgot I had a life vest on.  All I knew was that I was in deep trouble.  The clear thought crossed my mind, “This could be ‘it.’”  I wasn’t afraid nor in a panic.  However, I was at a loss about what to do.  The kayak was moving away and I was swimming rapidly.  I knew I couldn’t swim like that for more than fifteen minutes.  I now wish I remembered that I was wearing a life jacket.  I could have relaxed, even though I knew there was a dam a few miles downstream.

Unbeknownst to me, persons in a motorboat saw me, cut the engine so I didn’t hear it, and slowly pulled up behind me.  Two young men were aboard, each covered from head to toe with tattoos and body piercings.  They were angels in disguise, compassionate gentlemen who gave me directions on how to get into their boat.  I was grateful beyond words, water logged and exhausted.  All in a blink of an eye.  The young men rescued the kayak and oars and took them with me to shore.  I still pray for them.

What is the lesson in this for me?   I am not sure I can articulate what I learned that day.  Suffice it say that death really can strike when least expected and there is nothing to fear except fear itself.

“Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

When writing this article, I began by asking “Why would any youth today want to read something about death and dying?  Seems cruel, absurd or at least depressing.” Is the topic of death and dying really depressing?  Depressing means life-draining.  In the book, Tuesdays with Morrie,[1] Morrie says, “The truth is, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” Is that really so?  Yes, when we no longer fear death, then we can really live. And only then.

Death in our culture is hidden and denied.  We whisk a dead body off to an undertaker who makes the dead body look better than it was when it was alive.  We do all we can to not look death as a part of human life.   This death-denying mentality has tragic consequences for everyday life.

I’ll be personal.  My lovely wife died twenty-one years ago of metastasized bone cancer.  Watching her deteriorate was a sacred, horrid experience.  I say “sacred” because, then and now, I knew that much more was going on that met the eye.  My wife knew it too.  I say “horrid” because she was in pain.emptytombstone

I have a photo on my iPhone of my wife’s tombstone and the grass in front of the grave.  The tombstone has two rectangles engraved on the front.  One rectangle is hers, her name, birth date and death date.  The other rectangle has my name, my birth date and a blank, awaiting a death date.  Every so often I open that photo.

I use the marvels of iPhone to expand only the grass on my side of the gravesite.  So, the screen has only grass, the grass on my side of the grave.  I ponder that grass.  I know that now I am looking down at that grass.  The day is coming, more sooner than later, when I will be looking up at that grass.  I will be under that grass.  I must admit that I have grown to love that grass.  You might ask, “Isn’t that morbid?  Isn’t that macabre?”  Isn’t that just plain old dumb?”  My answer is emphatically, “No.”  I answer no because I conclude, “Yes, that grass will cover me some day.  BUT, I am not dead now so I will live this moment, this day vigorously.”

The point is that anything we fear becomes repressed energy that constricts life energy.  If I fear death then that fear causes me to be less alive and energetic.  If, however, I am willing to look death fearlessly in the face, then I am more energized to live fully.

The grave is mystical door leading to new life

St John Climacus says, “Just as bread is the most necessary of all foods, so the thought of death is he most essential of all works.”

When I am prepared to die, right now if that is God’s loving will for me, then I come to a sudden realization.  I am not dead yet, which means I can live vigorously and robustly in the present moment, precisely because I am not dead now.  I will be dead sometime.  Yes.  But since that time isn’t now I can choose to be vital and bold while I have the time to do so.

I will make a silly, yet bold, claim that I hope comes true.  When I die the Lord will say to me,  “Al, I gave you many seminarians to form every semester for decades.  How did you do?”  I hope to respond, “Lord, have mercy.”  He will say, “Al, how did you do with the two children I gave you to raise into Christ?” I hope to say, “Lord, have mercy.”  He will say, “Al, is that all you can say?”  I hope to respond, “Lord, have mercy.”  He will say, “Come on in.”  I don’t know what will really happen when I die because I am a wimp, but I can hope.

Death and suffering were not created by God.  Humans brought darkness, slavery, death into the world by disobedience.   Adam and Eve did then and we do now.  Death is a fact of life but we do not have to fear death.  Christ overcame our death by His death.

The grave is mystical door leading to new life.


[1] Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie, (New York: Broadway Books, 2002).

The Christian Concept of Death

April 28, 2013

The Christian Concept of Death

Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann

“He suffered and was buried. And He rose again…” After the Cross, after the descent into death there is the Resurrection from the dead — that principal, fundamental and decisive confirmation of the Symbol of Faith, a confirmation from the very heart of Christianity. Indeed “if Christ is not risen, then your faith is in vain.” These are the words of the Apostle Paul, and they remain fundamental for Christianity to this day. Christianity is a belief, first of all and above all, in the fact that Christ did not remain in the grave, that life shone forth from death, and that in Christ’s Resurrection from the dead, the absolute, all-encompassing law of dying and death, which tolerated no exceptions, was somehow blown apart and overcome from within.resurrection

The Resurrection of Christ comprises, I repeat, the very heart of the Christian faith and Christian Good News. And yet, however strange it may sound, in the everyday life of Christianity and Christians in our time there is little room for this faith. It is as though obscured, and the contemporary Christian, without being cognizant of it, does not reject it, but somehow skirts about it, and does not live the faith as did the first Christians. If he attends church, he of course hears in the Christian service the ever resounding joyous confirmations: “trampling down death by death,” “death is swallowed up by victory,” “life reigns,” and “not one dead remains in the grave.” But ask him what he really thinks about death, and often (too often alas) you will hear some sort of rambling affirmation of the immortality of the soul and its life in some sort of world beyond the grave, a belief that existed even before Christianity. And that would be in the best of circumstances. In the worst, one would be met simply by perplexity and ignorance, “You know, I have never really thought about it.”

Meanwhile it is absolutely necessary to think about it, because it is with faith or unbelief, not simply in the “immortality of the soul,” but precisely in the Resurrection of Christ and in our “universal resurrection” at the end of time that all of Christianity “stands or falls,” as they say. If Christ did not rise, then the Gospel is the most horrible fraud of all. But if Christ did rise, then not only do all our pre-Christian representations and beliefs in the “immortality of the soul” change radically, but they simply fall away. And then the entire question of death presents itself in a totally different light. And here is the crux of the matter, that the Resurrection above all assumes an attitude toward death and an concept of death that is most profoundly different from its usual religious representations; and in a certain sense this concept is the opposite of those representations.


It must be frankly stated that the classical belief in the immortality of the soul excludes faith in the resurrection, because the resurrection (and this is the root of the matter) includes in itself not only the soul, but also the body. Simply reading the Gospel leaves no doubt about it. When they saw the risen Christ, the Apostles, as the Gospel says, thought that they were seeing a ghost or a vision. The first task of the risen Christ was to allow them to sense the reality of His body. He takes food and eats in front of them. He commands the doubting Thomas to touch His body, to be convinced of the Resurrection through his fingers. And when the Apostles came to believe, it is precisely the proclamation of the Resurrection, its reality, its “bodiliness” that becomes the chief content, power and joy of their preaching, and the main sacrament of the Church becomes the Communion of bread and wine as the Body and Blood of the risen Christ. And in this act, says the Apostle Paul, “proclaiming the death of the Lord, they confess His Resurrection.”

Those who turn to Christianity turn not to ideas or principles, but they accept this belief in the Resurrection, this experience, this knowledge of the risen Teacher. They accept faith in the universal resurrection, which means the overcoming, the destruction, the annihilation of death as the ultimate goal of the world. “The last enemy to be destroyed is death!” exclaims the Apostle Paul in a sort of spiritual ecstasy. And on every Pascha night we proclaim, “O Death, where is thy sting? O Hell, where is thy victory? Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. Christ is risen, and life reigns!” In this way the acceptance or non-acceptance of Christ and Christianity is essentially the acceptance or non-acceptance of belief in His Resurrection, and in the language of religious representations that means belief in the union in Him of body and soul, of which the dissolution and ruination is death.

We are not speaking here about those who reject the Resurrection of Christ because they reject the very existence of God, i.e. convinced (or think that they are convinced) atheists. The discussion concerns a quite different area. Of much greater importance is that strange “obscurity” of faith in the Resurrection, which I just mentioned, among those very believers, those very Christians who connect in a peculiar way the celebration of Pascha with the actual, perhaps often subconscious, rejection of the Resurrection of Christ. There has occurred in historical Christianity a sort of return to the pre-Christian concept of death, which consists of, first of all, a recognition of death as a “law of nature,” i.e. a phenomenon inherent in nature itself, with which, for this reason and no matter how frightening death might be, one must “come to terms,” which one must accept. Indeed, all non-Christian, all natural religions, all philosophies are in essence occupied with our “coming to terms” with death and attempt to demonstrate for us the source of immortal life, of the immortal soul in some sort of alien world beyond the grave. Plato, for example, and countless followers after him teach that death is a liberation from the body which the soul desires; and in this circumstance faith in the resurrection of the body not only becomes unnecessary, but also incomprehensible, even false and untrue. In order to perceive the entire sense of Christian belief in the Resurrection, we must begin not from that belief itself, but from the Christian concept of the body and death, for here lies the root of the misunderstanding even within Christianity.

Religious consciousness assumes that the Resurrection of Christ is first of all a miracle, which of course it is. But for the average religious consciousness this miracle is even greater: the miracle of all miracles remains “unique” so to speak, pertaining to Christ. And since we acknowledge that Christ is God, this miracle ceases to be a miracle in a certain sense. God is almighty, God is God, God can do anything! Whatever the death of Christ signifies, His divine power and might did not allow Him to remain in the grave. Yet the fact of the matter is that all this comprises only half of the age-old Christian interpretation of the Resurrection of Christ. The joy of early Christianity, which still lives in the Church, in her services, in her hymns and prayers, and especially in the incomparable feast of Pascha, does not separate the Resurrection of Christ from the “universal resurrection,” which originates and begins in the Resurrection of Christ.

lazarusGiottoCelebrating one week before Pascha Christ’s raising of His friend Lazarus, the Church solemnly and joyfully confirms that this miracle is a “confirmation of the universal resurrection.” But in the minds of the faithful these two inseparable halves of the faith — faith in the Resurrection of Christ and faith in the “universal resurrection” initiated by Him — have somehow become disconnected. What remains intact is the belief in the rising of Christ from the dead, His Resurrection in the body, which He invites the doubting Thomas to touch: “Reach hither thy finger, and thrust it into My wounds: and be not faithless, but believing.”

Now as for our mortal and final destiny and fate after death, which we have begun to call the world beyond the grave, this destiny and fate has gradually ceased to be interpreted in the light of the Resurrection of Christ and its relation to it. As far as Christ is concerned we confirm that He rose from the dead, but as far as we ourselves are concerned we say that we believe in the immortality of the soul, in which the Greeks and Jews believed ages before Christ, in which to this day all religions believe without exception, and for which belief the Resurrection of Christ (however strange this may sound) is even unnecessary.

What is the reason behind this odd bifurcation? The reason lies in our concept of death, or better in a different concept of death as the separation of the soul from the body. All pre-Christian and extra-Christian “religiosity” teaches that this separation of the soul from the body should be regarded as not only “natural” but also positive, that in this should be seen a liberation of the soul from the body, which prevents the soul from being spiritual, heavenly, pure and blessed. Since in human experience evil, disease, suffering and the passions arise from the body, the goal and meaning of religion and the religious life become naturally the liberation of the soul from this bodily “prison,” a liberation precisely in death which allows it to attain its fullness. But it must be most strongly emphasized that this concept of death is not Christian, and furthermore it is incompatible with Christianity, manifestly contradictory. Christianity proclaims, confirms and teaches, that this separation of the soul from the body, which we call death, is evil. It is not part of God’s creation. It is that which entered the world, making it subject to itself, but opposed to God and violating His design, His desire for the world, for mankind and for life. It is that which Christ came to destroy.

But again, in order not so much to understand, but rather to sense, to feel this Christian interpretation of death, we must begin by saying at least a few words about this design of God’s, as much as has been disclosed to us in the Holy Scriptures and revealed to its fullness in Christ, in His teaching, in his death and in His Resurrection.

This design may be simply and concisely outlined thus: God created man with a body and soul, i.e. at once both spiritual and material, and it is precisely this union of spirit, soul and body that is called man in the Bible and in the Gospel. Man, as created by God, is an animate body and an incarnate spirit, and for that reason any separation of them, and not only the final separation, in death, but even before death, any violation of that union is evil. It is a spiritual catastrophe. From this we receive our belief in the salvation of the world through the incarnate God, i.e. again, above all, our belief in His acceptance of flesh and body, not “body-like,” but a body in the fullest sense of the word: a body that needs food, that tires and that suffers. Thus that which in the Scriptures is called life, that life, which above all consists of the human body animated by the spirit and of the spirit made flesh, comes to an end — at death — in the separation of soul and body. No, man does not disappear in death, for creation may not destroy that which God has called from nothingness into being. But man is plunged into death, into the darkness of lifelessness and debility. He, as the Apostle Paul says, is given over to destruction and ruin.

Here, I would once more like to repeat and emphasize that God did not create the world for this separation, dying, ruin and corruption. And for this reason the Christian Gospel proclaims that “the last enemy to be destroyed is death.” The Resurrection is the recreation of the world in its original beauty and totality. It is the complete spiritualization of matter and the complete incarnation of the spirit in God’s creation. The world has been given to man as his life, and for this reason, according to our Christian Orthodox teaching, God will not annihilate it but will transfigure it into “a new heaven and a new earth,” into man’s spiritual body, into the temple of God’s presence and God’s glory in creation.

“The last enemy to be destroyed is death…” And that destruction, that extermination of death began when the Son of God Himself in His immortal love for us voluntarily descended into death and its darkness, filling its despair and horror with His light and love. And this is why we sing on Pascha not only “Christ is risen from the dead,” but also “trampling down death by death…”

He alone arose from the dead, but He has destroyed our death, destroying its dominion, its despair, its finality. Christ does not promise us Nirvana or some sort of misty life beyond the grave, but the resurrection of life, a new heaven and a new earth, the joy of the universal resurrection. “The dead shall arise, and those in the tombs will sing for joy…” Christ in risen, and life abides, life lives… That is the meaning; that is the unending joy of this truly central and fundamental confirmation of the Symbol of Faith: “And the third day, He rose again according to the Scriptures.” According to the Scriptures, i.e. in accordance with that knowledge of life, with that design for the world and humanity, for the soul and body, for the spirit and matter, for life and death, which has been revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures. This is the entire faith, the entire love, and the entire hope of Christianity. And this is why the Apostle Paul says, “If Christ is not risen, then your faith is in vain.”


Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann
Russkaya mysl’, Nos. 3299, 3300, March 13, 20, 1980.
Translated from Russian by Robert A. Parent

Volume 4 Number 4 Authors and Contributors

April 28, 2013

Logan Johnson  is a chaplain intern at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH. and a recent graduate of St. Vladimir’s Seminary.  Hailing from Minnesota, he graduated in 2008 from Beloit College, a small liberal arts college in southern Wisconsin.  Retaining his interests in theological theory and inter-religious dialogue, Logan is currently planning to pursue hospital chaplaincy as a vocation.

Archpriest Steven Voytovich is the Director of the Department of Institutional Chaplaincies for the Orthodox Church in America. He holds M.A., M.Div., and D.Min degrees from St. Vladimir’s Seminary. He works in institutional settings training and educating chaplains. He is attached to Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in New Britain, Connecticut.

Dr Albert S Rossi, Ph.D.  teaches courses in pastoral theology at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary. He was a member of the SCOBA Commission on Contemporary Social and Moral Issues. He has written numerous articles on psychology and religion and published a book through Paulist Press entitled, Can I Make a Difference: Christian Family Life Today. After teaching at Pace University for 24 years, he retired as Associate Professor of Psychology. He is a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of New York. Dr. Rossi has a brief, bi–weekly podcast on Ancient Faith Radio titled Becoming a Healing Presence.

Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann (1921-1983) is a prominent Orthodox theologian, pastor, and writer of the 20th century. Having emigrated from Paris in the years after WWII, Schmemann accepted a teaching position at St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, where he later became dean until his death in 1983. Fr Schmemann has written several works, particularly on liturgical theology, that are available in several languages. Aptly described in a review of Schmemann’s most popular work, For the Life of the World, “[Fr Schmemann’s] insight into contemporary culture and liturgical celebration left an indelible mark on the Christian community worldwide.”