bishop thomas


An Orthodox University: Higher Education for Orthodox Christians

by His Grace Bishop Thomas, Ed.D.

In "the founding of explicitly Orthodox Christian schools of higher education...we must seek out men and women who are willing to offer up their academic learning and other educational talents to God for His Eucharistic sanctification for the salvation of the world."

An Orthodox University: Higher Education for Orthodox Christians

by the Right Reverend Bishop Thomas (Joseph), Ed.D.

If we were to survey the Orthodox Christian private grammar schools that currently exist in our country, we would discover that they exist for one of two reasons. The first, and probably the more common, is that parents want a place for their children that is safe from the evil influences found in the secular schools that will also give to them an adequate academic education. Such schools do not particularly exist as Orthodox schools for the sake of Orthodoxy, but rather as safe havens, sheltering students reassuringly under the preferred religious branding.

By contrast, the other kind of Orthodox Christian school that exists in our country is dedicated to immersion in the Kingdom of God. Their purpose is not to provide a shelter from the world that happens to give a decent education, but rather it is to use education sacramentally to unite students mystically with Jesus Christ. Indeed, far from providing a shelter, we may think of such places as a barracks or as a training camp, raising up soldiers for Christ’s mystical army. Such schools have one purpose: the salvation of students and of the world. For them, education can become a mystery of the Church.

May 5, 2010 + Godparents

by Fr. Troy Mashburn
from The Word, June 1997

In a healthy Orthodox parish, there is a continual flow of births, and consequently baptisms in the parish. Where the parish is genuinely taking the faith to the surrounding world, there is also a steady stream of Chrismations of individuals into the parish and the Kingdom of God. In each of these blessed sacramental events, not only are the priest and the one receiving the sacrament integrally involved.  A third person is essentially entwined in the sacrament, that being the Godparent (sponsor).  Many times the Godparent’s role is minimized, centering only on material aspects of the sacrament. However, he has personal responsibilities as well as representative responsibilities for the entire parish that go far beyond material considerations. It is good for us to be reminded of the role of Godparents in the life of the Orthodox Christian.

Regarding his representative role, we must never forget that the entire parish takes responsibility for those “born again” by baptism (or received by Chrismation) into its midst.

Regarding the godparent’s personal role, there are many good descriptions in print already. I have borrowed the following from one of the better ones, Fr. Stanley Harakas’ 455 Questions, wherein he discussed the history and responsibility of Godparents as follows:

April 21, 2010 + From Homily XXXIV

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Gospel According to St. John

"Many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman which testified, He told me all that ever I did." (John 4:39)

They perceived that the woman would not from favor have admired One who had rebuked her sins, nor to gratify another have paraded her own course of life.

Let us then also imitate this woman, and in the case of our own sins not be ashamed of men, but fear, as is meet, God who now beholdeth what is done, and who hereafter punisheth those who do not now repent. At present we do the opposite of this, for we fear not Him who shall judge us, but shudder at those who do not in anything hurt us, and tremble at the shame which comes from them. Therefore in the very thing which we fear, in this do we incur punishment. For he who now regards only the reproach of men, but when God seeth is not ashamed to do anything unseemly, and who will not repent and be converted, in that day will be made an example, not only before one or two but in the sight of the whole world. For that a vast assembly is seated there to behold righteous actions as well as those which are not such, let the parable of the sheep and the goats teach thee, as also the blessed Paul when He saith "For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor. v. 10), and again, "Who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness." (1 Cor. iv. 5.) Hast thou done or imagined any evil thing, and dost thou hide it from man? Yet from God thou hidest it not. But for this thou careth nothing; the eyes of men, these are thy fear.

The Emergence of Local Orthodox Christian Societies in America

by His Grace Bishop THOMAS and Sdn. Symeon Dana Kees

Throughout the history of the Orthodox Church, the Church has found a home in every culture within which it has been divinely planted.  As the unchanging Apostolic Tradition becomes the Way of the people, the language and the good aspects of the culture are sanctified and absorbed into the life of the Church.