Thursday, December 19, 2013

Entering the Church

As many of you may already know, my journey to Orthodoxy will soon be complete. On December 29th I will be chrismated. This is an exciting time. As I write posts for this blog, I've been able to reflect on the years of study and struggle that led me to where I am now. I hope to continue sharing my story and, I hope and pray, that it will help others, as well. With two major crises of faith, several near existential melt downs, and theological wanderings (at times I felt like the ancient Hebrews wandering around the desert) I'm glad my journey is coming to an end. Yet, at the same time, Orthodoxy itself is a journey--so as one is ending...another one is beginning.

My life is changing--yet again! Not only am I entering the Orthodox Church, my wife and I are making some changes. We're adopting more and more of an agrarian, "self"-reliant lifestyle, in hope of living off the land as much as possible. I'm learning to take care of cows--which is hilarious if you know me! I believe God is leading us in a new and exciting way.

Changing topics some, choosing a patron saint took some time. They say the saint chooses you. Selfishly, I tried to find a saint who has the same name as me to make things easier. For a while I was leaning towards St Michael the Neomartyr, his story is truly amazing.  Then I started feeling a little guilty about St Polycarp because he has been a favorite of mine for years. My middle initial is "P", so when someone would inquire about my middle name, I would respond: Polycarp haha. And Polycarp was often incorporated into email and user names. His story is another which is truly amazing. I have much respect and often identify with the underdog and those who risk their lives for what they believe and those they care about.

But, after much prayer, St Maximus the Confessor will be my patron. He's a perfect example of the convergence of three aspects of the Church: the theological, the ascetic, and martyrdom. As someone who leans to the intellectual side, I have great respect and admiration for St Maximus. As someone who aspires to (as much of a failure I am at this) the ascetic life, St Maximus is a great example. And as someone who has much respect for martyrs, St Maximus was one who suffered as a passion-bearer and was martyred for the faith. He was the dominant voice against Monothelitism, to the point of standing up against the eastern emperor and patriarch. He was a synthesizer of different theological schools (which I've tried for years to synthesize different -ism and concepts). Even though he was not given title Theologian in the Orthodox Church (I believe that if the Church were to retroactively give that title St Maximus would be one of the first), he is considered a Doctor of the Church in the West. His story is one of the most inspiring in the history of the Church.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
You are a guide of Orthodoxy, a teacher of piety and modesty, a luminary of the world, the God inspired pride of monastics. O wise Maximos, you have enlightened everyone by your teachings. You are the harp of the Spirit. Intercede to Christ our God for the salvation of our souls.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Let us the faithful praise with fitting hymns that lover of the Holy Trinity, great Maximus, who clearly taught the divinely-given Faith: that we should give glory unto Christ our God, Who, though but one hypostasis, hath in very truth two natures, wills, and energies. Let us cry to him: Rejoice, divine herald of the Faith.


I just wanted to share this with you. It'll be at least a couple of weeks before I make another post. Until then...Kyrie eleison.


  1. Congratulations in advance on your coming chrismation, (may I call you) Maximos! And I was interested to hear you and your wife are heading toward a kind of life that I once was led to live (though it changed later, unforeseeably). I thought you might enjoy this post of mine reminiscing (if you haven't seen it already)...

    Best wishes, brother, to you and yours at this time of the Lord's Nativity.

  2. Romanos, thank you! It is indeed an exciting time! I didn't see that post before, but I did read "How to live on nothing", both are truly inspiring. Even though I now live in a more rural area, it's alway been hard for me since I was a suburban/city boy...never thought I'd be where I'm at now.

    May you have a blessed and joyous Christmas!


  3. Congratulations on your upcoming illumination. The journey truly begins, and it is beautiful one!
    -Jeremiah (

  4. Jeremiah, thank you! It's exciting, it feels like I'm coming home, and at such a wonderful time of year!