If some man came and informed you that you would certainly lose your life the following day, what would you have to look forward to, what would you do to occupy yourself while waiting for this day to end? In what does the day we are now living differ from our last day? Much of our time during any day is wasted in eating and drinking, at stool, in sleeping, talking, and walking. To engage in useless activities, to talk about useless things, and to think about useless things during the brief moments of free time left us is not only to waste the time, but to blot out days that extend into months and eventually into a whole lifetime. This is most foolish of all.

—Yoshida Kenkō, Tsurezuregusa 103


Quotes on Non-Possession

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
—Matthew 19:21

How is it possible for him that is once sunk in such lust of wealth, to recover himself? If he begin to empty himself of his possessions, and cut off what are superfluous. For so shall he both advance further, and shall run on his course more easily afterwards.

Do not then seek all at once, but gently, and little by little, ascend this ladder, that leads you up to Heaven. For like as those in fevers having acrid bile abounding within them, when they cast in thereon meats and drinks, so far from quenching their thirst, do even kindle the flame; so also the covetous, when they cast in their wealth upon this wicked lust more acrid than that bile, do rather inflame it.
—St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew 63:3

The bread you are holding back is for the hungry, the clothes you keep put away are for the naked, the shoes that are rotting away with disuse are for those who have none, the silver you keep buried in the earth is for the needy.
St. Basil the Great

Whatever you have contributed to the poor, therefore, is profitable to you; whatever you have diminished it by is gain to you. You feed yourself with the food that you have given to the poor, for the one who is merciful to the poor is fed himself, and there is fruit already in these things. Mercy is sown on the earth and germinates in heaven; it is planted in the poor and sprouts forth in God’s presence. ‘Do not say,’ God declares, ‘tomorrow I will give.’ How does he who does not allow you to say: ‘Tomorrow I will give’ allow you to say: ‘I will not give’? It is not anything of yours that you are bestowing on the poor; rather, you are giving back something of his. For you alone are usurping what was given in common for the use of all. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich, but there are fewer who do not use what is theirs than who do use it.
—St. Ambrose of Milan, On Nabaoth 12.53

As long as a man is rich and he has in excess while others do not have even the necessities, he can in no way enter the kingdom of heaven. But when all riches have been shed, then he is not rich and so he can enter…if one only begins to cease from greed, he will advance to reducing his excess, and from there he will proceed to eliminating even his necessities, and thus he will be prospered along the way by God acting in collaboration with him.
—Blessed Theophylact of Ochrid, Explanation of the Gospel According to St. Matthew

What is false gratitude to God? Gratitude is false when, having receivedbountiful, undeserved spiritual and material gifts from God, people thank Godfor them with their tongue, and use them only for their own advantage, not sharing them with their neighbors; when they obtain them and conceal them in their banks or galleries or libraries, or what have you, and thus deprive many of their brethren… of food, drink, clothing, of dwelling; or of healing; or of the means of moving in order to get a living. Such gratitude is false and ungodly….But how many such ‘grateful’ men there are!… It is not just for the rich to keep excess wealth when there are many poor people in need of the means of existence, of necessary clothing and dwellings.
—St. John of Kronstadt

If a rich person felt sorry for only one poor person and gave all his wealth to him, making him rich, this would merely be a small transfer of capital of one to another. One stops being rich and another is made so. The difficulty continues. But placing in as many deficient hands as possible those material goods saved in a hands of a few is a deeper and more extensive alleviation of suffering and is the highest application of the Lord’s command, “give to the poor.”
Met. Augoustinos (Kantiotes), Follow Me, p. 168, n. 46

Orthodoxy in America: the app!

A few days ago I downloaded the new Orthodoxy in America app from Orthodox Web Solutions. This free app is a mobile version of the popular Orthodoxy in America website, which is used by many people to find an Orthodox parish. I tested it out on my Moto E smartphone using wifi (I don’t use data unless I am traveling).

According to the app’s description, it “features a church locator for the parishes, monasteries, and seminaries of the Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Additionally, the app aggregates content from major Orthodox news and media providers with the goal of informing, educating, and inspiring.”

I’m not very interested in finding Orthodox content through my phone, so this first impression will be focused on the church location aspect of the app. The screenshots below are covered under fair use.

I am not a programmer. The following remarks are based on my experience as a user.

The start screen (left) is pretty snazzy, but I wasn’t a big fan of the home screen (right). The parish location button was small relative to the other content dominating the screen.

Since this review focuses on the church-finding aspect of this app, I’m not going to make a full comment on the other functions, but here’s a brief overview.

  • Through the News function you can look at articles from various Orthodox websites such as Pemptousia and Pravoslavie.ru.
  • The Social function allows you to see tweets and Facebook posts from Orthodox groups.
  • The Audio and Video functions offer podcasts and videos from Ancient Faith Radio, Orthodox Christian Network, &c.
  • 360 Tours links you to the various virtual tours of parishes developed by Orthodox 360, another project of Orthodox Web Solutions.
  • Finally, the Photos function shows you various photos with hashtags such as #orthodoxarchitecture and #liveorthodoxy.

I clicked on the Locator button and this is what I got:


I use Japanese on my phone, so there is Japanese on the map.

The screen here looks identical to the desktop version of the Orthodoxy in America page. There is no “locate me” button so I had to manually put my city in the rather small bar at the top. If I was traveling and I didn’t know my exact location I would be in trouble. Here are my results:

The map (there are six states on that map!) was not useful unless I zoomed in. You can filter the listings by jurisdiction (GOA, ROCOR, &c.) and type (parish, monastery, &c.) but you can’t focus the search distance (eg. limiting results to a 15-mile radius). The list of parishes is helpful, but when I click on Detail Map it opens Google Maps within the app instead of letting me open it on my phone’s Google Maps app, making for a clunky user experience. In contrast, the desktop version opens the parish’s map in a new tab.

I hope I don’t come across as too harsh or offend anyone with this review, especially because this is a brand-new app. The people at Orthodox Web Solutions are doing great work in using today’s technology to spread the ancient faith. Orthodoxy in America is a very good-looking app with a great premise. It simply needs to improve certain aspects of its parish-finding function, namely by making an option for automatically locating the user using GPS/WiFi, allowing the user to set a search radius for finding parishes, and a more flexible interaction with Google Maps.

Whether or not you agree with my assessment, the app is completely free so there is no harm in downloading it and trying it out for yourself.

Sts. Peter and Paul

I wish my fellow Orthodox Christians who celebrated today a blessed feast of the holy, glorious, and all-praised leaders of the apostles, Peter and Paul. May our Holy Church be guided and protected through their holy intercessions. I also wish my brother-in-law Peter a happy namesday. Многая лета!

Because of the late Pascha, it was a very short fast, only two weeks. For those who celebrated according to the New Calendar (June 29) it was only two days!

Although I was unable to be at the liturgy because of work obligations, I festively broke my fast with an egg and toast with cheese. It feels like summer is passing very quickly; next week is already the feast of the Royal Martyrs!


A little more about this blog

My previous blog, Jordanville Journal, was focused on my life as a seminarian at Holy Trinity Seminary. The totality of my existence for five years was focuses at that venerable institution: I lived, worked, at worshipped there. All my physical and spiritual needs were met there. Of course, I went out and had fun—we all did. Most of my time was spent at seminary, though.

Nowadays, I have various roles to fill—husband, office worker, clergyman. My wife and I spend a lot of time on the road between home and church and office. Simply being in the world gives me a lot of source material to think about, so the focus of this blog is a more scatter-shot. Or perhaps it hasn’t found its voice yet.

I want to write a post every day, to see if I could keep up the discipline, and to see if my blog does find that voice. Although in a sense I’m writing more for myself than for others, I hope, dear reader, that you find something interesting or useful here.