“Let us take refuge in the Lord, and ascend a little to the place where thoughts dry up, and stirrings vanish. Where memories fade away and the passions die, where human nature becomes serene, and is transformed as it stands in the other world.”
-St Isaac the Syrian.
Like many of you, I am an undergraduate student preparing for essays, examinations, and that senior thesis which I could have sworn was off just looming beyond the horizon, but has very much suddenly arrived. I am also a sinner with the humble hope of renewal and transformation through faith in the Theanthropos, the God-Man Jesus Christ. I am an Orthodox Christian, and in this, I strive to remember the words of the Jesus Prayer- “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.
In this I am nothing, but may, through Christ, transcend everything and become what St. Peter describes as a “partaker of the divine nature”. I hold fast to the words of St. Irenaeus, that, having received the life-changing blessing of the promise of eternal life through Christ, I may cooperate in synergy with the Holy Spirit to allow the grace of God to guide me in all that I do and transform my soul in unity with the divine energies. This is the unique challenge which the Orthodox Church offers her faithful, the challenge to surrender our will, the societal constructs of autonomy and extreme individualism, to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and transform us in union with the divine energies. This is nothing less than the process of theosis, of divinization by which we may realize the fullness of our life in Christ.
On Sunday, December 4, 2011, the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple (Julian calendar) I was received by chrismation into the Orthodox Church by His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah, then primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, D.C. I received the name Silouan after the beloved elder or staretz who spent the last decades of his life in ceaseless prayer on the Holy Mountain. In all humility, I consider having received this beautiful, challenging, and historic faith to be the most important and transforming event in my life. Entering into the fullness of the Orthodox Church, in my prayer life, in the Liturgy, in all that I am, is a blessing beyond compare.
My goal in creating and updating this blog is to share with you various articles, podcasts, essays and lectures on the Orthodox Church throughout history and in the world today. I also will be sharing different musings, stories and moments from my life with you that relate to the Orthodox faith, especially with regard to the Liturgy, Great Lent and other fasts, matters of theological doctrine and theosis, and Church history. Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts as you read my entries, whether you are Orthodox, of another faith, or of no faith at all.
St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, D.C, the OCA primatial cathedral, was my parish and spiritual home from November 2010 to August 2012. I love and miss the Cathedral, and I very much admire Fr. Valery, Deacon Blagoje, and so many others there. I do not know Metropolitan Tikhon, but I sincerely pray for his primatial ministry, wishing him well as Primate of the OCA. I encourage anyone who is able to visit St Nicholas to do so; the parishioners are delightful and warm-hearted people who love God, the choir chants beautifully, and the Cathedral is a historic Washington landmark with magnificent Russian iconography!
My spiritual father serves most often at DC’s beautiful and historic St John the Baptist Cathedral, the Russian Orthodox (ROCOR) church founded by St John of Shanghai and San Francisco, “the Wonderworker” of blessed memory. This is where I now most often attend Liturgy and Vigil along with many friends, young and old. Metropolitan Jonah has built a wonderful teaching ministry and Bible study program there, and often serves at Liturgy at the invitation of the very kind Rector, Fr. Victor Potapov, with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad. You are most welcome to visit both St John’s and St Nicholas!
I am a senior at American University’s School of Public Affairs and College of Arts and Sciences pursuing my BA in History. During the Spring 2012 term I studied on exchange at the University of Edinburgh, taking courses in biblical Greek and English and Scottish history.
In addition to my current obligations as a university student, I also work as a staff writer, researcher and blogger at the Institute on Religion & Democracy (IRD). You may find my articles here at the IRD’s blog page, Juicy Ecumenism. I work with the IRD to publicize and critique the latest developments in different faith groups, especially the mainline U.S. Protestant denominations. I principally focus on global events and internal developments affecting the ministry, theology and ongoing witness of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. My research interests include the international response to the Arab Spring; the ongoing humanitarian crises in Syria and Egypt; Christian faith in American and European public life; analyzing U.S. political movements from an orthodox Christian perspective; and the intersection between U.S. federal administration policy, Christian theology and religious liberty.
Some of my previous positions include: serving as a conference planning assistant to Anita McBride, former Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush (Fall 2012); working as an undergraduate research assistant with an American University professor of British history, for which I received a coveted financial award (Summer 2011); and as a research and planning assistant at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs (Summer 2011).
Through my University, I have served twice as a paid Teaching Assistant for a course on the history of international political thought and legal theory. I have completed two independent studies under the supervision of Dr Douglas Klusmeyer on the subject of the Thirty Years’ War and the Peace of Westphalia (Summer 2010). Striving for non-partiality, I co-hosted American TV (ATV)’s hit political news show “Capitol Politics” from fall 2011 to spring 2013, hosting the political news show “The Body Politic” the previous year. For both these shows, I offered news broadcasts on international and U.S. political developments, and enjoyed interviewing former ambassadors, members of Congress, high-profile DC attorneys, professors, and prominent political personalities.
Any errors, misquotations or other mistakes that appear on this site are my own, and, of course, I appreciate any readers alerting me to any such inconsistencies.
All my entries can be found by clicking above on “Posts”. Please feel free to search my site using any keywords that may help you find what you are looking to read. Wherever you are, may the Lord always bless you and give you peace.
Washington, D.C., January 2013.