I recieved a few inquiries lately through the web and from meeting people in person from volunteer hospice work I am participating in. The inquirers were very interested in church services and if I was the rector of a local church in Worcester, MA.
Currently for the most part I am serving as a concelebrant at Saint John the Russian in Ipswich, MA. Check out the webpage for schedule, info and directions: http://www.stjohntherussian.com/
Of course it may seem as if I am biased, but this community of the faithful is absolutely incredible. I would suggest checking it out.
Per Metropolitan Hilarion's blessing, he would like me to cultivate a mission parish, which if it is God's plan will occur. We had 5 including Matushka and myself this past Sunday which was exciting to me. For the time being liturgy is once a month as there is little participation.
Back to Saint John the Russian.....why is this parish so incredible?...for one there are services everyday. The rector Father Spyridon, assistant priest Father Innokenty and monk Herman keep a constant vigil at the church which is very comforting to me. Prayer is essential to the spiritual life, the frequency of the various divine services is a rarity considering many clergy, including myself, work full time jobs. The fact that the rector and small monastic brotherhood(monasticism is almost non-existent in New England) can do something so rare is uplifting. Take this point with the warmness of the clergy and laity and you have a great foundation.
Another aspect I find to be excellent is the diversity. I personally could care less when it comes to the ethnic makeup of the parish as what is important is our faith, but the parish is diverse. As I try to expose people to Holy Orthodoxy there is the presumption that one has to be Russian or Greek, etc. Well considering my last name is "McIntyre", unless thats short for "McIntyreopoulos", which it is obviously not, such a thought should not even be a concern. Saint John's in my experience is made up of Greeks, ethnically diverse Americans and Russians among other creeds.
Although an external aspect, the temple is nothing short of beautiful. I would worship with this community in a garage if need be, but the temple with its iconography is indeed a treat for the avid worshipper or a visitor. When I serve as first priest at the parish and I am before the holy altar table, I am always taken back by the icon of Christ which resides in the high place. It is downright incredible. Looking up and seeing the ancient depiction of our Lord is downright humbling.
In our Holy Orthodox Church, the local church certainly constitutes the fullness of the Catholic Church. If it a legitimate assembly possessing the necessary apostolic heritage, faith and worship, gathered around a legitimate bishop rightly imparting the word of truth, this assembly fully constitutes the Catholic Church, not a mere part of it, but the fullness, united to Christ and all others through time and history who have proclaimed the truth. This local assembly would then be partakers of Christ in the Eucharist, united to Christ. It would be of one mind with the saints, martyrs and the angelic hosts, the prophets, all who live in Christ. Nursing home outreach, hospice and the like can be full of trials for me, but I know liturgy is near and Saint John the Russian welcomes me with open arms. It is my oasis in a world plagued by deception and distraction.
A quote I found today that is absolutely amazing. Clear, concise, truthful and enlightening."God made us so that we might become 'partakers of the divine nature' (2 Pet. 1:4) and sharers in His eternity, and so that we might come to be like Him (cf. 1 John 3:2) through deification by grace. It is through deification that all things are reconstituted and achieve their permanence; and it is for its sake that what is not is brought into being and given existence." (From "On Deification, from Volume II of the PHILOKALIA as translated and edited by G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware and published by Faber and Faber, p.173)
Today I sent my petition to sign the "Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism." In some circles this document is deemed "controversial", quite honestly not sure why. It is just an affirmation of orthodox ecclesiology as evidenced by the church fathers, the ecumenical councils, local councils and continual witness of the faith.
It is refreshing to see such a large movement of people from all walks of life join together to take a stand against the blatant abuses of many hierarchs of all levels, various theological delegations, clergy, laity and so forth. I see it as another witness which occurs time and time again throughout all of history to keep the ark on track. The assault on the faith is continual and while ecumenism when performed properly is a good thing, much of what passes for ecumenism is just heretical.