Saturday, September 20, 2003

Something is messed up on my formatting now that it's been over a week since I last posted. So I'm posting something, just to try to get it back to normal.

Incidentally, I've had a lot more thoughts on the priesthood, sparked by several discussions with my bride-to-be and the recent necessity to write my application to the seminarian program here at Holy Cross. I hope to post some of them tomorrow. We'll see how the day's rest and evening work go.

Also, I need to respond to Karl Thienes' interview questions. That's also on the schedule for tomorrow.

I'll catch up...really I will. :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Greetings, friends and neighbors.

I just put in the new comment system. Length is now no object. My apologies for the sudden loss of all old comments. I think it will be better this way--best to change when the loss is smaller, etc. So please, blogout, and quickly, so my blog doesn't look like nobody reads it. ;)

Sunday, September 07, 2003


This is pretty cool. Perhaps there are perks from being owned by Google.

When one searches Google for Anthony Cook, my site is the first, yeah, FIRST to appear. I'm fourth for Arandir, and couldn't find myself for just Anthony. Nonetheless...that's very cool. I am happy. To my surprise, and not a little bit to my dismay, I appear sixth when one searches for "greek orthodox" blog. That puts me up above Pensate Omnia, St. Stephen's Musings and many others who represent the faith far better than I. May God forgive me. Anybody who finds my site under that search, visit my friends at those links.

More on the priesthood later--Danielle Miller asked a question that made me remember some things.

But I can't write it now. We have Orthros and Liturgy starting at 6:30 tomorrow...and I'm on altar duty, so I have to be there at 6. Hence up at 5, so I'm going to bed now.

But, God be praised, it is very good to be here.

Thursday, September 04, 2003


It's been almost a week since we arrived. So far the refrain has been "better than Hillsdale." Above all the chapel has been better--certainly the cafeteria and library are better, and even the student body has proven itself quite competitive with the institution which recently saw fit to give me a degree. I suspect that this school and these people will be a very great blessing in my life over the coming years. Glory be to God for His great mercy.

Today they split off the potential candidates for eventual ordination from the rest of the new students and laid out the requirements for the next four years leading up to ordination. My reactions to their presentations were mixed (though tending towards the positive), but the topic reminded me of something I've been thinking about for at least the past year.

How does one discern a calling to ministry? My answer to anyone who asks (including myself) has been that I cannot imagine myself truly content in any life but that of a priest--that is, I WANT to be a priest. I don't know whether that answer suffices--for the moment, it has brought me here, and I pray that all will be well.

My concern is that I do not possess the proper dread of the lofty calling I seek. St. John Chrysostom fled ordination--I am seeking it, and that blithely, regardless of my many sins and failings. In every way, I am utterly unworthy. Yet these are merely words which I write because I know in my mind that I should say them. They do not flow from my heart. That lighthearted approach to such a weighty office is perhaps the single greatest barrier to my eventual ordination.

Which is strange, because one would think that I would consider the myriad of sins themselves a greater barrier than the awareness of my unworthiness--instead, I consider (and I think rightly) that awareness the single greatest prerequisite for this calling. In the larger sense, the sins themselves are almost negligible.

Why is this? Simply put, because the conquest of my own sinfulness itself is not, strictly speaking, my department. A man on his own WILL sin...period. This is a law more immutable than that of gravity. Only God can purify a man--but He insists on our consent before He will act.

In order to clarify what I mean, let me reference the life of Elder Joseph the Hesychast of blessed memory. He spent several years in grueling warfare against the demons until he was finally rid of the passions. He writes of fighting so closely that one demon "left the sensation of his hairs on my fingers and the smell of his stench in my nose." His descriptions can leave us with the impression that the Elder was fighting a direct war in which, by the power of HIS sword and HIS lance, he vanquished the adversary. But that impression forgets the very nature of the sword of the Elder.

The Jesus Prayer--Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me--is precisely that sword. In his months of battles with the demons, the Elder's sole means of fighting was constant, heartfelt, impassioned repetition of this prayer. His victory was won only when he ceased to speak the prayer in any conventional sense and began, in every fibre of his being, to LIVE it. Which is to say, the sword of the man who is saved is turned inward upon himself, until he dies to himself and is resurrected to God. Only when the whole man stands naked before God, utterly and willingly dependent upon the mercy of God, can the Almighty enter in and vanquish the enemy.

Which is to say, there IS indeed a work demanded of a man for his salvation: to accept the grace and mercy of God. That acceptance is essentially and fundamentally a complete death to self, a recognition of one's utter impotence against the evil one and a desperate cry for aid. But when the man cries out "Lord have mercy" with all his being, at that moment the clay finally submits to the Potter and can begin to manifest the manifold glories of the All-Holy Trinity.

For me in my aspirations to the preisthood, then, sin is only a symptom. The root problem is my separation from God, zealously protecting my own identity, reserving those aspects of my person which I am unwilling to surrender--and thus I fall, inevitably, hideously and often. But if I truly am called (and we are all called to holiness), then I must learn to discern my unworthiness and dread the calling (for "I am a man of unclean lips")--and then turn to God with all my heart and all my soul and all my mind and beg his mercy on me, a sinner. And then the Light will dispel the darkness.

All I have to do is open the window.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.