Diocesan News

Archpastoral Visit to St. Paisius Monastery, Arizona

2016 03 10 st paisius featureMarch 9-10, 2016

His Grace arrived in the late evening of Wednesday and was joyfully greeted at the airport by two of the sisters. Upon reaching the monastery, he was escorted to his guest quarters under the silent, magnificently starry desert sky.

In the morning, His Grace served the Hierarchical Liturgy. After the Small Entrance, His Grace performed the Service of the Tonsure into the Rassophore for one of the sisters, now newly-tonsured Sister Syncletica. As a special gift, he presented her with an icon of the Theotokos, depicted with a very sweet countenance, painted by his own mother.

Aesthetics on Christian Image, Stanford - Saratoga

2016 03 05 stanford 007Stanford – Saratoga, March 5, and 6, 2016

Saturday, March 5th was a very special day at Stanford University and the entire San Francisco Bay Area.  With great organization of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship at Stanford, our Diocese, and with great help from His Grace Bishop Maxim and local Serbian Orthodox communities, we welcomed three well-known professors from different parts of the world – Very Rev. Archimandrite Dr. John Pantelimon Manoussakis, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Holy Cross Theological School, Dr. Cornelia Tsakiridou, professor of Philosophy at LaSalle University, and Dr. George Kordis, professor Emeritus of Iconography at University of Athens.  All three came to give us varying lectures on Christian Orthodox Icons, their beauty, meaning, and further future in the twenty first century.

Spiritually Provocative and Clinically Informed Conversations in Sacramento

Group20 40 Thermos 11March 3, 2016

Spiritually provocative. Clinically informed. Fr. Vasilios Thermos' visit to the Sacramento "Synaxis" of young adults and Orthodox Christian Fellowship at California State University, Sacramento proved to be a unique and illuminating experience for all who attended.

His insights into the fields of theology and psychology, with a strong undercurrent in psychoanalytic thought, served as the evening's subject matter, backed by decades of clinical research and prayerful consideration.

From the vantage point of our post-millennial culture, Fr. Vasilios' juxtaposition between the fields of psychology and theology could be rendered as a re-articulation of the severance and epistemological disconnect between the ancient "psyche" (spirit) and God of modernity. This cleft, or split, is nothing more than the symptom of a genealogical trauma, a suffocation and resuscitation of the symbolic Father by the great Nietzchean experiment and its failure to transform or subvert the dominant discourses of For Fr. Vasilios, the historical surrogation of "modern" man and his evolution into a "post-modern" being was doubly implicated by technology and the false reassurance that modernity was (or is) supposedly an unfinished project.

Bishop Maxim and Fr. Vasileios Thermos Visit. St. Herman Monastery and St. Xenia Skete

08 featureOn Thursday, March 3, 2015, His Grace Bishop Maxim visited the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, California, and St. Xenia Skete in nearby Wildwood, together with an honored guest, Protopresbyter Vasileios Thermos of Athens, Greece. This is Fr. Vasileios’ second pilgrimage to the St. Herman Monastery, his first being two years ago, with his presbytera.

Fr. Vasileios is a priest of the Church of Greece. Together with his priestly ministry in Athens, he is a practicing psychiatrist, and is Professor of Pastoral Theology and Psychology at the University Ecclesiastical Academy in Athens. The author of many books and articles, he has offered programs and retreats in Greece, the United States, Albania, and Cyprus.

On Thursday morning His Grace and Fr. Vasileios were greeted at the monastery gate by the monks, the nuns of St. Xenia Skete, and pilgrims. The Liturgy began at nine o’clock, celebrated by Bishop Maxim, along with Protopresbyter Vasileios, Abbot Damascene, and Hieromonk Paisius. After the Liturgy, Vladika spoke of his gratitude to the brotherhood and to Fr. Vasileios, and of his joy at being at once again celebrating with the monks and nuns the Divine Liturgy. The Liturgy, he said, is the focal point of our existence; in it we experience the whole life of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Soon thereafter, His Grace and Fr. Vasileios went to the grave of Hieromonk Seraphim, and were shown the newly finished Resurrection shrine, and works-in-progress: the library/reading room, archontariki (reception room), and adjoining kitchenette.

The meal in the trapeza followed, after which Fr. Damascene thanked His Grace and Fr. Vasileios for blessing the monastery with their visit, and providing everyone present with spiritual inspiration and nourishment on the eve of the Great Fast.

Fr. Vasileios then gave an edifying talk on the complementarity of asceticism and the Eucharist. “In asceticism,” he said, “we declare that we are ill, and that we have come to the hospital, which is the Church. In the Eucharist, we foretaste that we have become citizens of the City to come, of the eschata. In our asceticism, we confess our vulnerability; and in the Eucharist, we experience that we are children of God.”

After the talk, Fr. Vasileios answered many questions from the monks, nuns, and pilgrims on a wide range of subjects—mostly concerning the spiritual life, illnesses of the soul, and the struggle with thoughts. Fr. Vasileios’ answers exhibited both practical knowledge and warm compassion, borne of his many years of caring for souls.

Bishop Maxim and Fr. Vasileios, along with the hieromonks of St. Herman Monastery, then went to visit St. Xenia Skete. After Abbess Dorothea gave a tour of the Skete to Fr. Vasileios, everyone sat down to tea, where Fr. Vasileios offered more soul-profiting words. His Grace and Fr. Vasileios concluded the gathering by singing, in the original Greek, the Lenten hymn, “Open to Me the Doors of Repentance,” in anticipation of the coming Fast. This hymn, Vladika said, has been described as encapsulating the greatest glory of Byzantium.

The visit of Bishop Maxim and Fr. Vasileios left joy in the hearts of all, together with practical wisdom with which to grow in the life in Christ. The brothers and sisters were grateful as always to their Vladika for his archpastoral care, and to Fr. Vasileios for sharing his rich experience, and for his friendship.

—Abbot Damascene


Sts. Sebastian and Mardarije Institute - Day Four

orthodox institute 2016 4 featureSan Diego, CA - The fourth and final day of the Sts. Sebastian and Mardarije Institute began with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Officiating at the liturgy was His Grace Bishop Maxim with the concelebration of diocesan clergy along with visiting clergy from the Eastern, Midwestern and Canadian dioceses. 

Promptly after breakfast the seventh session, entitled "Becoming like the Saints" and moderated by Fr. Nicholas Ceko. Fr. Maximos continued reading and commenting on The Ambiguum. Copies of the text were handed out for the Institute participants could follow the reading. The morning session ended with discussion. 

Lunch and an hour break followed. The afternoon session began promptly with session VIII: God Incarnate of the Virtues, moderated by Deacon Marko Bojovic. In his opening remarks in his Tuesday morning talk, Fr. Maximos introduced everyone to the texts and very complex writing style of St. Maximos the Confessor.  And throughout the course of the three full days of sessions of the Instittute Fr. Maximos consistently read and commented on various selections from the writings of St. Maximos the Confessor. He expertly and insightfully commented on the holy father's writings, citing and comparing writings and sayings from other patristic fathers. Fr. Maximos' impressive command of the writings of St. Maximos the Confessor was demonstrated on numerous occasions when, during the discussion and in responce to a given question, he would quickly find the answer in the corresponding page and paragraph in the Ambiguum. 

Vespers, on the eve of St. Simeon the Myrrh-flowing, was served at the end of the afternoon sessions. Dinner was served in the tented area followed by a cheese reception and Tvrdos wine tasting. Afterwards, Fr. Maximos delivered his final talk in the main hall, his keynote address, "St. Maximos the Confessor: Guide to Orthodoxy". The title of his talk, he noted, he took from the Apolytikion of St. Maximos. Among other things, he spoke in great detail on the life of St. Maximos. Furthermore, from his life Fr. Maximos took the many sufferings of the Holy Confessor to reflect on.

At the conclusion of the keynote address Bishop Maxim called upon Fr. Dobrivoje Milunovic, president of the Clergy Brotherhood of North and South America. On behalf of the brotherhood Fr. Dobrivoje expressed his both his gratitude and great joy at being able to take part in this year's Institute and to listen to such and excellent and gifted speaker.  In his closing remarks, Bishop Maxim echoed the sentiments of Fr. Dobrivoje noting that in the talks we heard over the past few days we listened to a speaker knowledgable in a wide range of subjects as references were made to medicine, science, archeology, philology, philosophy, the arts, iconography, technology, etc.

The Institute concluded with the presentation of certificates.


Sts. Sebastian and Mardarije Institute - Day Three

day three orthinst featureSan Diego, CA - Following Orthros on the third day of the Sts. Sebastian and Mardarije Institute the fourth session, entitled "The Stages of the Spiritual Life", began with an introductory word from the moderator Monk Siluan. Fr. Maximos spent the majority of the morning session reading from selected texts of St. Maximos' writings, more specifically, selections from his Questions to Thalassios. This was followed by questions and answers resulting in a lively discussion. More discussion continued after a short break which began with a word of clarification by Fr. Maximos on the passions in light of the teachings and writings of St. Maximos the Confessor.

After lunch and an hour break the afternoon talks began with Session V: Contemplation of Nature moderated by His Grace Bishop Maxim.  Session VI: Contemplation of Scripture followed. During both sessions Fr. Maximos read and discussed in detail selections from St. Maximos' Ambiguum 10 which deals with contemplation. Fr. Maximos' comments on the text provoked questions and discussion that lasted until the late afternoon.

Dinner was served after Vespers. As dinner was coming to a close, the host priest Fr. Bratso Krsic called everyone's attention to two guests from the St. Nicholas parish in Indianapolis, Indiana who sang two selections, one a folk song and the other dedicated to St. Mardarije. In the main hall afterwards Fr. Maximos was given a final opportunity to take questions.

Closing the third day of the Institute was a special treat for all the visiting clergy and laity as the Morava vocal ensemble peformed a few numbers.


Switch mode views: