Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

This Friday seems to be a study in contrasts. We are preparing on Sunday to commemorate the Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council, the last Ecumenical Council, where the Fathers of the Church gathered and proclaimed with one voice the power and beauty of icons. At the same time, today is the day that we commemorate Symeon the New Theologian, a devout and poetic soul and the last person ever given the title of "Theologian"...and that was 1000 years ago.

On the other hand, in events far above my pay grade, but of importance to every Orthodox Christian, there are fears of a looming division in the Church. At the 7th Council, we spoke with one voice; today it appears that we may speak in splintered voices.

There is not much you and I can do about this, except to pray. A suggested prayer of unity in the Church is attached (Please see below) . If you see fit, please add it to your prayer rule.

1. This week: It is a genuine pleasure to be back. It was good to be away for a few days, but it is a greater pleasure to be at the altar of God. We will start this weekend with Great Vespers at 5:00 pm on Saturday, and Divine Liturgy for the Sunday of the Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council on Sunday at 10:00 a.m.

Next Wednesday we will serve small compline on Wednesday evening at 6:00 p.m. On Saturday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. we will resume our adult education class, followed by Great Vespers at 5:00 pm.

2. Parish meeting: As you know, our parish meeting is set for October 28 following Divine Liturgy. If you have an item you want to add to the agenda, please let me know sometime this weekend.

There is much more to relate, including random thoughts from my time on Thursday in and near the Slickrock wilderness, but those can wait for Sunday. In the meantime, it is a blessing to be back, and a joy to be with you all again.

In Christ,

Fr. James

A prayer for the unity of the Orthodox Church

Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! O Lord Jesus Christ our God, head of the Church that is thy Body, who prayed for thy disciples to the Father, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me”: To thee we confess that thy Church is one, and cannot be divided; we mourn for all who separate themselves from Her; we pray that thou mayest make the schisms to cease. We put not our trust in princes, nor in the sons of men, in whom there is no salvation; rather, we put all our hope in thee, and we beg of thee, send thy Holy Spirit to guide our hierarchs, that they may rightly divide the word of thy truth, and that they may bear witness to the unity of the Church in all their decisions. Preserve us, O Lord, from the Evil One and all his attempts to divide us, from the machinations of governments, from the ambitions of fallen men, and from the sin of pride. Heal the wounds caused by our lack of love, and fill us, and our hierarchs, with love for one another as brothers in Christ. Keep us in thy truth; thy word is truth. To thee, and thy Father, and the Holy Spirit: the Holy Trinity, the source and manifestation of all unity, one in essence and undivided, do we ascribe all praise, honor, and glory, now and ever and unto ages of ages.