His Grace, Bishop THOMAS, visits Holy Cross Church in Linthicum, Maryland on September 9 and 10
His Grace, Bishop THOMAS, visited Holy Cross Church in Linthicum, Maryland on September 9 and 10 in anticipation of our patronal feast day on the 14th. He began with meeting the Sisterhood of St. Nina for tea on Saturday afternoon.
The Sisterhood enjoyed a lovely afternoon tea at the home of Deacon Mark and Ina O'Dell with Bishop THOMAS and our Holy Cross Clergy as honored guests. In addition to dining on tasty teas, scrumptious savories, and scintillating sweets, we feasted on illuminating words of wisdom from our beloved hierarch. We gave His Grace a copy of the life story of our patron, St. Nina, including how we, at Holy Cross, came to be "chosen" by her. However, His Grace declined our offer to scale up and rappel down a mountain rock face in his cassock, like the young Bishop in St. Nina's Georgia who leads the St. Nina's Way. We also told him that in 2008 we hope to be able to join in on part of the month-long hike with the Jesus Prayer retracing part of St. Nina's journey from Cappadocia to what is now the modern Republic of Georgia. We then had a lively discussion on a variety of topics ranging from confession, to monasteries, to the bishop's own personal challenges on his spiritual journey, to the need to prayerfully support our clergy who receive a constant assault from the enemy of our souls due to their role representing Christ to us. We all left feeling enriched by our time together.
Prior to Great Vespers, Bishop THOMAS met with 14 of our youth and had a wonderful exchange of ideas. Initially they were shocked his by admonition to examine to whom they are a "slave" but accepted the idea as Sayidna Thomas encouraged them to be a slave to God rather than to music or to oneself, for example. When asked "What is the meaning of life?" BISHOP Thomas reminded the group to serve God devotedly. The youth were interested in the Bishop's accounts of his years as a teacher, and he asked the youth about their experiences at Antiochian Village and Project Mexico. They thoroughly enjoyed our beloved Bishop’s visit.
After the Great Vespers service and a short exhortation, Sayidna THOMAS was treated to a reception in the parish hall where many had the chance to talk with and get to know their Bishop, including some inquirers into the Orthodox Faith.
On Sunday morning, His Grace presided over the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and delivered a rousing homily on taking up the Cross we've each been given. Following the Liturgy, the faithful processed with the Bishop outside to our community prayer garden, which is a new September event for our parish. Members of the church and community are invited to place crosses that represent their prayers in a marked area on the church lawn. Bishop THOMAS blessed the crosses and then we all retired into the parish hall for coffee hour. An impromptu meeting ensued, where the Bishop fielded questions for an hour and half, directing, correcting, clarifying and guiding his flock. Second only to the Eucharist, it was the highlight of the weekend!