The Orthodox Witness of Peace and the Repose of +Ihumen Gregory

It is with a “profound depth of sadness and prayer” that I share the news that the servant of God, Ihumen (abbot) Gregory fell asleep in the Lord this past Thursday evening. You will remember that I have asked all of you to pray for him: please continue to do so. Those of us with the blessing to know him, already miss our great mentor and friend. It is rare to find someone with the combination of a first-rate scholar, a humble monk, a generous pastor, and an exuberant friend (exuberance in that classic understated English way, of course). May his memory be eternal!

This event, the falling asleep of Ihumen Gregory, dominated the week. He had a long and arduous struggle, but he did not struggle alone. In addition to the cloud of witnesses, he was attended to by loving parishioners and fellow clergy; even through the parting of his soul from his body. May God grant us all such a blessing.


The only other thing I would like to share today come from an interesting experience I had this afternoon. I was asked to share (in two minutes or less!) the Orthodox Christian witness of peace at a Community Thanksgiving Celebration. The event was very nice, and it gave me the opportunity to meet pastors from other traditions from the local community. While these sorts of things can get a bit “warm and fuzzy” for my tastes, this one went well. They even had sausage balls at the reception (not as good as my mom’s, but still really tasty!).

Here is what I said. I would love to hear your thoughts on it and whether I hit the points you would have.


The Orthodox Witness of Peace

(in two minutes or less)

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: one God. Amen.

For the Orthodox Christian peace emanates from the pre-eternal Godhead: a Godhead that is a mystical union of One God in Three Persons; one in essence and perfect in harmony. It is a paragon of love in both its inner and outer emanations. Though we are creations of this love, we have corrupted our community with God and one another through our pride. The result is envy, strife, war, divorce, slander, hedonism, heresy, and relativism; each of which further isolates us and brings even greater discord to our fallen world.

But God’s essence and plan for us remain unchanged, so He offered Himself; His prayers, His passion, and His resurrection ”so that we might be one with each other and with God just as He Himself is one” (paraphrase of St. John 17). It is thus through Jesus Christ that peace is restored to us and to our world. We enjoy the first-fruits of this re-creation now through the Mysteries, Sacraments, and Fellowship of His Church, but one day will enjoy and celebrate it in full.

Until that day, the Orthodox Church offers up its witness of peace through two contrasting images: the image of the martyrs and the image of the ever-vigilant state. The martyrs stand tall as they are persecuted, tortured, and killed for their faith, and their suffering sanctifies them and all those around them. Nonetheless, Orthodox Christianity affirms that it is the God-ordained purpose of the government and those who serve in it to provide a safe and tranquil place for all of us to worship and pursue Godliness within its protective shell (e.g. Anaphora and Morning prayers). I am a retired combat veteran and a priest, and – all glory and thanksgiving to God – both of those duties were blessed and sanctifying.

Now, may the peace that passes all understanding be with us all. Amen.


If you are interested in the subject of Christianity, peace, and security, you might be interested in the three essays I wrote for The Ukrainian Orthodox Word while I was deployed to Afghanistan (one, two, three). If you want even better stuff to read on the subject, visit the Orthodox Peace Fellowship website (FWIW, I am a member of OPF).

Perhaps next time I will have the energy to share more thoughts on Christianity and Immigration (we had another RICC meeting this past week) and my first day of teaching at the Naval War College. Until then, Happy Thanksgiving and Godspeed.