Posted by: Shawn Ragan | April 25, 2010

This End of this Blog

The original purpose of this blog was to outline and share our journey of discovery as my family and I moved from Protestant Christianity to the ancient and historic Eastern Orthodox Christian Faith.  This blog picked up in the last year of that journey and, through some flashbacks, much of our three year journey was shared.  In August of 2009 my family and I were received into the Orthodox Church and I brought my blog to a conclusion.

+Through the prayers of our most holy father, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us.  Amen.

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Posted by: Shawn Ragan | August 3, 2009

Holy Baptism – The Journey Begins

Just a little under three years ago I sat in Fr. Patrick’s office in Twin Falls.  I went on a retreat to Jerome, just about ten miles away from Twin, every few months for prayer, study, and to plan upcoming sermons and church goals.  A few weeks before this trip, I had met with Fr. Patrick at the Orthodox Church in Boise and in a way I had not yet comprehended had had my world shaken.

Fr. Patrick had talked about a number of things during that visit that spoke to questions I had been asking myself for a few years as a pastor.  There had been things I was struggling with, both as a pastor and as a Protestant Christian.  One of those things was the need for a spiritual father.  I saw my need for this as a pastor more and more as the years went by.  I had people I could talk to, but the relationship he was talking about was something more than I could get from my pastor-friends or others I talked to.

So we sat in his office and I asked him if he could help me in that way.  Obviously there were limitations, him being an Orthodox priest and me being a Protestant pastor, but he was happy to do what he could.

One of the things he told me during that meeting was about the journey I was about to embark on (if in fact I was really going to pursue the Truth wherever it led me).  He spoke of a bridge in New York (or somewhere back east) where from one side of the bridge you could not see the other side.  The best description, perhaps, for the sake of the blog, would be to say it was like a really shallow upside down U.

He said that as I embarked on the phase of my journey it would be like crossing that bridge.  Right now I could see clearly where I was at, and this side of the bridge.  As I walked over the bridge, if in fact I chose to do so (he made it clear I could walk away if I wanted to), I would see more of what was on the other side, but I would be less connected with what was behind me.

He said that as I walked across, people who I am close to now would become more distant and some no longer wish to even be my friend.  That was not something I understood at the time, because I was sure that the people I was friends with before, as well as my colleagues (other pastors) and those I pastored, would continue to want to associate with me as I walked this path.  Sadly, Fr. Patrick was right and I lost some friends in this journey.  Some colleagues stopped talking to me in the same way, especially as I got further down the path.  Even in the congregation I was serving as pastor, there were a few people who turned in what seemed like hatred against my family and I.  Even among those that I remained friends with, I found we no longer spoke the same language.  Orthodoxy is so different from the Protestantism that I was a part of that in a very real way we lost our ability to communicate.  Even recently, discussions have been confused because we speak from a very different worldview.

While crossing that bridge had its share of hardships (other than losing some friends and other social elements, I also left the pastorate with its pay and benefits – in a time when the economy hasn’t been so hot), it has had far more joy.  My view and understanding of God not only changed, but became overwhelmingly and awesomely greater.  I began to see ways in which I was hurting my family, and have worked to overcome those things.  I was able to watch my wife move from hating Christianity to having an active spiritual life and love for Christ and His Church.  We have not just read about Truth, but we have experienced in ways that were never possible before.  We have had the joy of coming home to the Faith of the Apostles.

This last weekend the walk across the bridge ended.  As we were received into the “One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church” through Holy Baptism and Chrismation, we stepped off the bridge.  Having arrived at the other side, almost three years later, has brought me incredible joy.  Seeing my wife and children brought into the Church brought tears to my gleaming face.  We are home.

And now, the real journey begins.  As challenging as it was to cross the bridge, we know that it will be far more challenging to walk the narrow path that has been set before us.  Just like the bridge, the Narrow Path with its challenges and struggles is filled with far more joy.  With the help and prayers of our spiritual father, Fr. Mark, our godparents, Matthew & Natalia, a wonderful parish filled with those walking the journey with us, the Saints who have gone before us cheering us on, and with the Holy Spirit illumining us along the journey and with Christ Himself truly present, we step out on the path.  Lord help us and have mercy on us.

Asking for your prayers,

Shawn (Ephraim)

Hugging my godparent before the Baptism

Hugging my godparent before the Baptism

Being anointed with oil before Baptism

Being anointed with oil before Baptism

The Servant of God, Ephraim, is baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The Servant of God, Ephraim, is baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Holy Chrismation

Holy Chrismation

Posted by: Shawn Ragan | July 10, 2009

Three Weeks to Go

It is crazy to realize how quickly three weeks goes by.  As I get older, that realization is one that has become cemented in my mind.  I remember as a child how three weeks would have seemed like an eternity.  When we started school in August, May seemed like eons away.  Now, August and May almost seem to meld together.

Three weeks…not much time.  I began this journey three years ago, so three weeks seems like nothing.

But today is today.  It is easy to have your mind in the past and in the future and fail to be in the here and now.  This is one of the lessons I have learned over the last couple years…nepsis – to live and be in the hear and now.  I have a great quote on this from the book “Beginning to Pray” by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom.  But the book is loaned out to someone, so I can not share it.

If we stop and think about it, though, the lesson is an important one.  Be here now.  My wife frames this idea in the simple word: “Live.”  How easy is it to be somewhere else, to be a week, a month, or even a year down the road in our mind, facing things we may or may not ever face.  I was going to visit with someone this week and I was worried about the conversation.  I ran it through my head dozens of times, worried about it going bad.  Yet it didn’t, and I should have known that.  How much time this week did I spend thinking and worrying about it.

Or, we can live in the past.  Regrets.  I have them.  There are things that I wish I had not done, choices made I wish I could undo.  Awareness of our past, and our sins, is important.  Living in them, though, is not.  That awareness can help me shape the now, but what help is there in just dwelling and bemoaning about what is done.  Our past is part of our present, but that does not change the fact that we need to live in the present.  It is easy, though, to dwell on it, especially the contemplation of sins.

While we are distracted with the mistakes of the past, and worried about the problems of the future, we lost track of the here and now.  We stop being where we are at, in that moment, with those people, in that place.  Then the moment has passed, and our kids grow up too fast, things continue to happen, opportunities passed, moments passed…

There are only so many of them, so many that we will have and then this life is over.  What are we using these moments for?  What am I using them for?  There are things I want to do, yet I do not.  There are things I do not want to do, yet I do.  What matters?  Nothing matters if we are not first present in the now…to make the most of a moment, we must first be present in it.

Now is what we have, it is what we have been given.  I am excited for our Holy Baptism and entrance into the Apostolic Church in three weeks, but tonight we are getting ready for our boys to leave us for a week.  Tonight, is where I am at, and tonight is where I am going to go be…

Posted by: Shawn Ragan | July 6, 2009

The Way I Want to Die

Tori and I spent last night looking at this picture and watching this video.  At times in disbelief, at times crossing ourselves, at times convicted, and at times in awe.

The Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi Monastery on Mount Athos who reposed July 1, 2009.

Elder Joseph

Elder Joseph

I hope and pray, Lord have mercy, that when I die I am smiling.  It is truly an awe-inspiring thing, and something that makes one tremble, to see this blessed Elder smiling like this at the funeral.

Here is a video of the funeral.  Another thing that Tori and I were amazed with…look at Elder Joseph as they move him from one Church to the other Church…

Posted by: Shawn Ragan | June 27, 2009

The Countdown, again

My very first post on this blog was titled: “The Countdown.”  Then, I was six weeks away from leaving the pastorate in a Protestant church.  Six weeks away from a major change in our life.

How things have changed and transformed since that first post.  I cannot even begin to describe now vs. then.  My wife has come to faith in Christ, probably for the first time.  Our lives have radically changed.  Some of it has been harder, but all of it has been better.

Here we are again, approaching another major event.  When I first started to write this post a week ago, we were six weeks away again.  As of today, we are now five weeks away.  Five weeks away from another major event, an even greater countdown than the one I began this blog with.

Five weeks from today, August 1st, our family, my wife, my kids, and I, will be baptized and received into the “One Holy Apostolic and Catholic Church.”  In five weeks, through triple immersion, we will, Lord willing, be Chrismated and receive the Eucharist for the first time as Eastern Orthodox Christians – as communicants.

A few weeks ago, I prayed a prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian (who will be my patron Saint), about approaching communion.  The prayer was a pre-communion prayer so I considered not saying it, but we are approaching that day, and we do ask that God prepare us for it.  This may be hard for some to understand, but it is in a way frightening to consider what is coming.  Five weeks from now, Lord willing…

Posted by: Shawn Ragan | June 10, 2009

Home from the Monastery

Since our journey to the historic Christian Faith began, I have had the opportunity to take a trip to a monastery on a few occasions.  This was something I looked forward to doing.

As a Protestant pastor, I went on retreat about 3 times a year to a local Roman Catholic monastery, about 2 hours away.  I had always enjoyed my time there, and I was able to get quite a bit accomplished.  As I journeyed to Orthodoxy, though, the desire to go to an Orthodox monastery increased.  I also wanted to go for different reasons.  I attended some of the services at the Roman Catholic monastery, but that was not why I went.  I went to work.

In Orthodoxy, though, my desire was to attend the services…and to meet the holy men and women of the monasteries who pray for the world almost constantly.  This is another aspect of Orthodox Christianity that still makes me stand in awe.  There are always prayers going, on behalf of the whole world.  Right now, Orthodox Christians are praying the services, and praying for everyone – the living and the dead.

“The Universal Church of Christ offereth prayers every day for the reposed; every hour the sins of the world are washed away by the Most-pure Blood of the Divine Lamb…”

Ekos 7, Akathist for the Repose of the Departed

In a monastery, one can participate in the liturgical life of the Church even more – as the monastery often has more of the services of the Church than a parish can offer.  One gets up early to attend services, and then stands on their feet for great lengths of time.

Two years ago there was a Men’s Lenten Retreat at the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner in Goldendale, WA.  This is a women’s monastery, and they alternate years between Men and Women’s Lenten Retreats.  Two years ago, I couldn’t go.  Tori would have flipped – she was not happy I was even looking at Orthodoxy.  If you have followed my blog, then you know she wanted away from Christianity altogether at that time.

Later that year, I was invited to a monastery in California by Fr. Patrick, where then Fr. Jonah (now Metropolitan Jonah of the OCA) was the abbot.  Tori was not excited about the idea, and I had other obligations so I stayed home.

Last summer, some friends went to a monastery over by Seattle.  Again, I couldn’t go.  Tori’s views were changing, but she wasn’t there yet.  I was also leaving the pastorate, and money was tight.

In February of this year, my soon to be godfather and godbrother went to a monastery on Arizona (or was it New Mexico?  Arizona I think).  I wanted to go, but I had been laid off, so again, I was not able to.  When they came back I was able to hear about the amazing time they had, though.

Finally, this year was the Men’s Lenten Retreat at St. John’s in Goldendale.  I was registered.  I was packed.  The car was rented, the trip was paid for, and Tori was sick with some heart problems.  We were leaving Friday morning, and Thursday night Tori’s problem started acting up again.  Friday morning she was sick in bed.  I finagled, I tried, but I did not go.  I stayed home, again.

A good friend of mine, Peter, wants to go to a monastery in the Fall – one up in Canada.  I am looking forward to that.

Oh yeah, the title – home from the monastery.  Not me.  Tori got home last night from her first trip to the monastery.  She was frightened to go when the opportunity first arose last week.  By the time they left, she was at peace.  She had a fantastic time.

“I can’t believe you have never been to a monastery!” she told me when she got home.  I smiled.

“It was amazing.  I got up at 4 in the morning to go to services, and t was great.  The singing was like angels!  I can’t even explain it.  You just have to be there to understand,” she told me.

That is true with our Holy Faith.  It is not something you can understand by reading a book or looking on the internet.  Nor is it something you will get by watching ten or fifteen minutes of a service.  One must enter into it – to come to the Church, to pray, to truly worship with the Saints and the Angels.  One must participate in her life, and then they will understand.

So Tori is home from the monastery, and I look forward to my first trip, which will probably not be until after our family’s baptism on August 1st.  I asked Tori if she would go again: “Definitely, in fact this year (Lent 2010)  is the Women’s Lenten Retreat…”

I could only smile and thank God for my wife and this blessed and Holy Faith.

Posted by: Shawn Ragan | May 11, 2009

Encountering the New Testament Church

I don’t know if I was really looking for the New Testament Church.  Perhaps in some abstract, intellectual way I was, but my Protestant upraising had taught me the New Testament Church did not really exist in a tangible way.  My search then, was for something that resembled the early church – not for it itself.  And I was searching – I knew there was something missing, that church had to be more than what I was seeing and experiencing.  I saw the gap between the Christianity of the first century that I read about and the Christianity I saw all around me.  I was looking for something, I just cannot say I was looking for the actual New Testament Church – something I did not believe really existed (outside of the all believers of whatever denomination that are saved view).  Never did I expect to encounter it.

Studying history is one of my favorite things to do.  My wife hates it.  She is bored to death as I excitedly talk about something that happened along time ago.  History is what I am being trained to do in college.  When I am bored and want something to read, I turn to a history book and I read it.  I also love to teach, and I happened to be teaching a class on the early church. As I read and as I studied, I kept coming across some nagging ideas.  My worldview had taught that Christianity apostatized sometime before Constantine, and that the only church from that first century or so on was the Roman Catholic Church, and that was the case until the Reformation.  My paradigm was a Roman Catholic-Protestant understanding of history.  What was this Eastern Church, that did not become Roman Catholic?  All these churches mentioned in the New Testament – what became of them?  I knew someone who was in the Eastern Church…I had taken a class from him…I thought I’d get some information, more for my class than for me – something to help me understand.

My first real contact was in a Church service – a Saturday evening service.  It was dark, there were candles, incense, chanting.  Where in the world was I?  Afterwards, Fr. Patrick sat down with me and told me that there was only One Church, and that this was it.  A bold statement, and not one I was ready to accept.  Before I go on, let me say I have heard those statements before.  Serving on the town ministerial fellowship, I knew of Protestant churches that made the claim to being the Church.  Yet I also knew history, and knew they had no real connection to the early church, that in fact they did not exist until after the Reformation, and that their doctrines and beliefs continued to change.  I also knew that when they said this, most were saying that unless I belonged to their church, I could not be saved.  Their claims resounded with arrogance, yet Fr. Patrick’s statement, though authoritative, remained humble.  Nor was he saying that only people who belonged to his church were saved.  While he used some of the same words, he was saying something very different from those Protestant churches I mentioned.

I will be honest and tell you that I did not leave as a believer in what he had said that night.  On the other hand, I knew something was there.  There was something in those services, in the people, in the feeling of the place, in the liturgy and incense, in all of it that cried out to me.  I left knowing that I would come back again and check these things out, but a long ways from accepting the claims.

Historically, the claims were not hard to see.  The Church of Antioch still exists.  These churches are still there, and they are Orthodox.  My study of the Western Church (Roman Catholic-Protestant) had already shown some of the problems the West faced in the last millenium.  As I joked with a Lutheran pastor friend of mine: “There was a reason the Reformation took place,” towhich he replied: “Yeah, it was just a group of guys sitting around drinking a beer and thinking what do we do tonight.”

But there was much to deal with.  Orthodoxy was very different.  Fr. Mark, hieromonk, has told me on several occasions that the further you go into Orthodoxy, the more you realize and learn that it is not the other thing (for me, Protestant).  There was a lot I had to overcome…many, many questions: “Why do you do this?” “What do you believe about this?” “How in the world can you believe that?”  I struggled to understand how the Church held to certain ideas, but the more I looked at it, the more I saw it was Truth.

It would be a year or more of coming to services, testing and evaluating, and seeing the life of the Church and the people before I knew that Fr. Patrick’s claims were true.  The New Testament Church did not die out or disappear.  It was still here, and could be seen and experienced.  By then, I had come to realize and actually understand what our Lord meant when He spoke of “the pearl of great price.”

I never blanket-accepted everything, or really anything.  I did not follow blindly.  There was Truth in these things I came, saw, and experienced, but I was not easily convinced.  The experience of being the services and experiencing this divine worship continued to draw me back.  The life of the people and their faith spoke to me.  The humility of our priest and the realness of all that we did – all of these things revealed to me a hunger for Christ that was yearning in my soul.  In my heart, I had accepted the Truth of Orthodoxy before I did in my mind.  Over a year, maybe a year and a half, after that first experience my mind caught up with my heart.

Since then, as I have travelled down this path, I have known even more that the Eastern Orthodox Church was the “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.”  My wife, who was running away from Christianity and Orthodoxy, has come to know this truth – the Truth.  There was a lot we both had to wrestle with – to test and see “Is this for real?”  Yet those tests were passed beyond anything I ever could have imagined.  I remember those struggles, especially now as I have friends who are looking at this Holy Faith.  They struggle, question, and doubt.  Perhaps they will never see it, perhaps they will – that is not in my hands.  Some only looked from a distance for a moment, and then with ready-made excuses expressed why they could not believe.  Others have come, but continue to struggle with certain points of doctrine – something I did until I came to the point that I trusted the Church.  For us, that trust has continued to grow, just as Christ promised when He said that even if we are not faithful, He will always be faithful.

Other just look at me funny, as they try to connect Orthodoxy to Protestantism as just another path – something I cannot agree with.  While I believe God is at work everywhere trying to bring all people to Truth (Christ), I cannot accept that all churches are the Church, nor can I accept that the Church does not exist except as a spiritual body.  Any attempt at conversation on this will always become akward, so I try not to talk about it.  It puts itself in the arrogant category, and I do not have the humility and love of Father Patrick to say it in such a way that that is not the case.  I know that this claim does not make us superior, just more responsible.  Yet I also know it is true.

I can never adequately, even semi-adequately, put into words this journey and what it has meant in our life and for our family.  It is everything…literally the totality of life.  And it is the cure, and the healing, and the answer to the questions I had been asking.  It is the fullness of the Faith, and as much as I can say it here, it will convince no one.  The only way to know is to struggle for yourself: to encounter the New Testament Church and wrestle with her life, her doctrine, her practice until your mind catches up with what your heart will tell you very early on.

Posted by: Shawn Ragan | May 1, 2009

The First Nicene Creed

Holy Icon of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, 325 AD

Holy Icon of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, 325 AD

In 325 AD, the Council of Nicaea (aka First Ecumenical Council) adopted the following credal statement.  The Creed was based on baptismal statements of the time.  Contrary to Dan Brown’s book, Nicaea did not invent *new* things, but rather confirmed the Faith as it had been handed down from the Apostles.

The First Ecumenical Council was held shortly after the Great Persecutions (in the East, the persecution had resumed under Constantine’s co-emperor Licinius until just a few years before the Council.  Many of the bishops who were present had undergone torture and persecution and still refused to compromise their faith – there were many there who carried the title “Confessor.”  Some claim that the bishops at this Council totally changed the Faith to accomodate Constantine – an absurd idea considering the bishops present at the Council.  These men had kept the Faith, they had been faithful, even to the point of death.

Another thing to consider about an Ecumenical Council is that it is received, not given.  In other words, the bishops and the emperor do not decide if a Council is ecumenical…the people do.  It was not until the people accepted Nicaea and the Creed as the same Faith as what they had always believed that the Council is considered ecumenical.  It is the people of the Church – universally – that decide it.  And in the the fourth century, the Church said this was their Faith.  That remained so until more recent times, when various Protestant and cultic groups began to deny Nicaea and follow more of Dan Brown’s theology than the Church’s.  Lord have mercy.

Though not the Creed we use liturgically in Church (at the Second Ecumenical Council in 381, the Creed was expanded to it’s current wording), the first Creed is still fascinating to read.  We dealt with it last week in a Roman history class I am taking, and it is published below.  Read through it, and see what you think.

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten of His Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, Begotten, not made, being of one essence (homoousias) with the Father.  By Whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and on earth.  Who for us men and for our salvation came down and was incarnate and was made man.  He suffered and the third day He rose again, and ascended into heaven.  And He shall come again to judge both the living and the dead.  And we believe in the Holy Spirit.  And whoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, or that before He was begotten He was not, or that He was made of things that were not, or that He is of a different substance or essence from the Father or that He is a creature, or subject to change or conversion – all that say so, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathametizes them.

Posted by: Shawn Ragan | April 25, 2009

Entering the Church

It will be almost three years from the time I first set foot in an Eastern Orthodox Church…a date when my life began down a different path.

For Tori, it will be almost two years from the time she first set foot in the Church – at a time when she was still opposed to us even looking at Orthodoxy – and a time when she had no intent on even being Christian, and certainly not Orthodox.

Just before Pascha of this year, Tori and I set down with our priest, Fr. Mark, and told him we wanted to set the date for our entrance into Christ’s Holy Church.  This August, on the Feast of the Holy Transfiguration of our Lord, our whole family will enter the Church through Holy Baptism and Chrismation.

A year and a half ago, when I knew this was the path that the kids and I were on, it was a struggle for me.  Tori was clearly not on this path (at least that was our perception at the time).  I worried that either we would enter without her, or we would end up waiting a very long time…  Tori, at times, felt like she “should” enter, just because she knew we all wanted to.  But she held back – knowing this was a serious decision and that she could not do it for us.  It had to be for her.

Thank God for the wise priests he put around us.  Fr. Mark, Fr. Patrick, and Hieromonk Mark all advised me to not pressure Tori and to not even look at it like she was “holding us back.”  Instead, we should look at it as an opportunity for self-sacrifice and to show love to her by being patient and by not pushing her.  This was counter to the “evangelism” classes I had taken as a Protestant pastor, where we were supposed to “close the deal.”  But again, this is one more example of how Eastern Christianity is not Western Christianity (I say that generically).

But it was precisely the love and patience that we showed Tori that allowed her to explore this Holy Faith on her own terms, and to come to love it and embrace it.  She has led the way for us, bringing us into the Church as catechumens, and even being the one to say that it was time to sit down with Fr. Mark and set the date for Holy Baptism.

Glory be to God!

Posted by: Shawn Ragan | April 24, 2009

On Being a Priest

I know some who desire to be a priest.  I served for eight years as a pastor of a Protestant Church, and in the time I have had to know the priests in our life, I have come to realize how woefully inadequate I was as any kind of spiritual leader and how different an Orthodox priest is from a Protestant pastor.  Anyways, I do not desire to be a priest.  More in a moment…

As part of our family devotional time, we read after supper (when I am home).  During Great Lent, we read Fr. Thomas Hopko’s “The Lenten Spring.”  Before that, though, we were reading about the life of Fr. Arseny, a Russian priest who spent a number of years in a Soviet prison because of his faith.  It is an incredible book and I would recommend people reading about this holy man of our Faith.  My kids were not all that into “The Lenten Spring,” and at least once a week asked to read from Fr. Arseny.  They were thrilled this week when we resumed it.

Tonight we read something, and I want to share a piece of it.  There are two reasons I share this.  First, for those who desire any kind of spiritual leadership, but especially the Holy Priesthood of the Orthodox Church, they are words that put things in perspective.  Second, and this much more than the first, is for those of us who are laymen in the Church, who are not and will not become priests…the job of a priest is hard.  After reading this, hopefully we can all appreciate the humble love and sacrifice we see in the priests, deacons, bishops, and monastics in our Holy Faith and we can pray all the more for them and their life for us.

“…I received a letter from a very good man who has led a complicated and beautiful life and who has won many battles within himself; he is now begging me to give him my blessing to become a priest.  But the life of a priest, a real priest, was always difficult, and now it is even more so.  Some people think that it means only serving in Church, but no; it is an extremely difficult and all-encompassing way of life.  You have to forget yourself completely and give yourself to others.  You must take upon yourself the souls of hundreds of people and lead them.  Not everyone is strong enough to undertake this way of life.  Many people think being a priest is an easy profession.  Yes, it is easy of you do not give yourself to others, but it is extremely difficult if you do.”  -Fr. Arseny (page 121)

I have yet to meet a priest or a monastic in our Holy Faith who has not given himself to others.  The humility and genuine love that emanates from each of the men I have been priviledged to meet has been overwhelming, and has helped Tori’s faith to grow and has been one of the factors that has led her, and our whole family, to the Holy Orthodox Faith.

Be mindful, O Lord, of our Metropolatin, Philip, of our Bishop, Joseph, and of every Bishop of the Orthodox; of Fr. Mark, Fr. Patrick, Hieromonk Mark, Fr. Justin, Hieromonk George, and of the Priests and Deacons and all the Clergy of thy Church, which Thou has established to feed the flock of the Word, and by their prayers have mercy upon me and save me, a sinner.

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