My younger brother concelebrants, Fathers Andrew Stephen, Lawrence, Johannes, John, and Josiah:
Christ is in our midst!
Let me begin with a few words about myself: an American archpriest in a jurisdiction represented in the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, born into a Russian Orthodox family which traces its lineage in the Faith to the baptism of Kiev 1,031 years ago, and approaching retirement. My grandfather was a priest, and his father before him; and before that, who knows?
I’m older than any of you, have been a priest longer than any of you, and possess more pastoral experience and formal theological education than any of you.
Some of you I have met in person.
My children were raised, and my grandchildren are being raised, in Orthodox homes where an unusually high level of theological fluency was, and is, imparted to them. Theology and spirituality are the stuff of conversation around our dinner tables. Perhaps they’re the stuff of any multi-generational Orthodox family that has been immersed in the Faith since time immemorial: we’re Orthodox in the marrow of our bones—in our very DNA, as it were.
One of Matushka’s and my grandchildren is a spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually advanced 13-year old girl. For the sake of this open letter we’ll call her “Tatiana.” She and I are exceptionally close. We see each other often because we have lived in the same city all her life. We often do things just the two of us. Her infectious exuberance for everything she touches—for life itself!—bursts like a sudden flash of sunshine into her aging Dyedushka’s soul every time we come into one another’s presence.
Recently over dinner à deux Tatiana came out to me as gay.
I almost typed “mustered the courage to come out to me” because it’s become conventional to talk that way about coming out. But she’s so completely confident in my love for her that she made the announcement rather happily, without any discernible hesitation, as if she were sharing with me any other new fact about herself. Read More