It is not the river that flows, but the water.
Not the years that go by, but ourselves.
– French poet, Hervé Bazin

For all the complaining I have done regarding not having enough time I seem to crave not an excess of time but the scarcity of it. Social media has not made it easy to find a way out of this dilemma. I have spent the summer praying whether I would continue blogging. It has taken time to figure it out but I am done trying to squeeze in more. The summer break I took from news and social media was great. I have even stopped thinking about how I will tweet about what I am experiencing.

If it ever becomes my duty I will write more in the future. I know, without a doubt, that I am forever done tweeting (after this post automatically tweets) and I am done with status updates on Facebook, unless the Cowboys put together a decent season.

I have enjoyed creating and writing Scolé. Thank you for reading and to all who are followers of the blog.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. James


Filed under A Good Life

2011 Summer Unplugged: My Media Fast

I have not been blogging much lately and I thought the time had come to share about my little summer experiment. Beginning today I am committing to a media fast.

What’s does a media fast look like?

  • No Facebook: I will still receive personal messages as emails
  • No Twitter
  • No newspapers
  • No news or church gossip websites
  • No news radio
  • No blog posting
  • No Television: Versus and Netflix excluded
  • No responding to non-urgent email or voice mail except one, 1 hour session everyday

Why abstain from all that information?

I am tired and distracted. I have done this to myself. I have been sleeping with my phone on “in case of emergencies.” I have been reading about national and Church politics and what people eat for dinner and what mall and restaurant they are visiting and I am fed up with my lack on peace. It’s not you, it’s me. I have taken in too much information. Bleh.

What am I going to do instead of reading about Arnold Schwarzenegger and the OCA?

I intend to listen to music, read, write, hike, play the Ukulele everyday and play and pray more with the family.

God bless and keep you this summer! Christ is Risen!

Fr. James


Filed under A Good Life

a seaplane’s sanctification and turbulence

me and seaplane

I was asked, by a parishioner, if I would come and bless a seaplane that he uses to train pilots for water landings. He said that after the prayers he wanted to take me on a brief flight and that I should wear clothes that could get wet. I am always up for an adventure but, clothes that can get wet? I was at Falcon Field (a small plane airport in Mesa) at 7 in the morning. I did the prayers for the blessing of an airplane – really cool prayer service that I will include below. And yes, I know it is a little self-serving to bless the plane before takeoff.

After the plane blessing, Tom, my parishioner, gave me a safety briefing that could make a grown man cry. He first asked me if I could swim. I said, “yes” but was thinking, “should I call my wife and kids and tell them I love them, one last time? He said that if we crash on water we would both be injured and upside down. Sea planes flip over because the engine sits on top. Oh, and because of the water pressure the doors would not open until the cabin had completely filled with water and that I was to remain calm while it filled up. Right! And even though I would be wearing an inflatable life vest I was not to pull the cord while injured and upside down because it would inflate and trap me in the sinking plane. The good news was that there were bottles of “spare air.” I was to retrieve mine from behind his seat. However, the oxygen would not automatically flow and there was no valve. I was to remember to blow hard into the mouth piece in order to start the flow of oxygen…. all while injured and upside down and sinking in the cold, wet, dark, broken plane and not pulling the rip chord on my life vest….

my ride, complete with inflatable life vest

Did I mention that we had two beautiful water landings and take offs? Oh, did I also forget to mention that I threw up on the flight home? Tom is an ace but it was hot and there was turbulence. We were both apologetic but I am pretty sure throwing up was my fault and not his… I was very glad that he added that trash bag to our gear at last minute.

aerial view of saguaro lake

lake roosevelt bridge and dam

The prayer begins in the usual way with the Trisagion Prayers and then we read Psalm 139:

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. O LORD, thou hast searched me and known me! Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up; thou discernest my thoughts from afar. Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou dost beset me behind and before, and layest thy hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in hell, thou art there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there thy hand shall lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Let only darkness cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to thee, the night is bright as the day; for darkness is as light with thee. For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works! Thou knowest me right well; my frame was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth. Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are thy thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. When I awake, I am still with thee. O that thou wouldst slay the wicked, O God, and that men of blood would depart from me, men who maliciously defy thee, who lift themselves up against thee for evil! Do I not hate them that hate thee, O LORD? And do I not loathe them that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139

And then this prayer:

O Lord God, Who is borne on the cherubim; Who took Elijah up to heaven in a fiery chariot; Who, by your angels, carried Habakkuk and Philip the Deacon through the air, and Who gathered the Apostles at the Dormition of Your Mother: As the same Lord, sanctify this boat of the air, and bless those traveling in it, preserving them from all evil. For You alone are all-powerful, and to You we ascribe glory; to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.


Filed under A Good Life, Beaches, Canyons, Deserts, Mountains and Monasteries

law of the land


Filed under A Good Life, Regarding the Present Moment

reading list

I was asked to coffee today by a Roman Catholic woman who spent Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha with our church in Mesa. She heads home to Washington next week and wondered what books I might recommend for her continuing journey towards Orthodoxy.I do not consider it complete. It was written at the spur of the moment and is on the back of a receipt. I would like to note that I am not recommending the Philokalia. She had already purchased the Philokalia from a monastery and I was redirecting her to Tito Coliander’s excellent little book…

Two friends have already suggested that Facing East by Frederica Mathews-Greene should be on the list. What other books would you recomend?

reading list written in a Starbucks on a receipt..


Filed under Orthodox Christianity, Poems, Books and Reviews

Paschal Joy

Paschal Joy


Filed under Orthodox Christianity, Sundays, Feast Days, Other Days

Holy Tuesday: The Hymn of St. Kassiane

At Bridegroom Orthros on Great and Holy Tuesday, the Church sings the following hymn by St. Kassiane:

O Lord, the woman who had fallen into many sins, perceiving Thy divinity, fulfilled the part of a myrrh-bearer; and with lamentations she brought sweet-smelling oil of myrrh to Thee before Thy burial. ‘Woe is me,’ she said, ‘for night surrounds me, dark and moonless, and stings my lustful passion with the love of sin. Accept the fountain of my tears, O Thou who drawest down from the clouds the waters of the sea. Incline to the groanings of my heart, O Thou who in Thine ineffable self-emptying hast bowed down the heavens. I shall kiss Thy most pure feet and wipe them with the hairs of my heads, those feet whose sound Eve heard at dusk in Paradise and hid herself for fear. Who can search out the multitude of my sins and the abyss of Thy judgments, O Saviour of my soul? Despise me not, Thine handmaiden, for Thou hast mercy without measure.


Filed under Orthodox Christianity

Lazarus Saturday Baptisms and Chrismations

We had a bumper crop of converts yesterday. 6 baptisms and 10 chrismations! Enjoy these great pictures!


Filed under Orthodox Christianity

life of st. mary of egypt

Our venerable mother Mary of Egypt was a desert ascetic who repented of a life of prostitution. She lived during the sixth century, and passed away in a remarkable manner in 522. The Church celebrates her feast day on the day of her repose, April 1; additionally, she is commemorated on the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt, the fifth Sunday in Great Lent.

She began her life as a young woman who followed the passions of the body, running away from her parents at age twelve for Alexandria. There she lived as a harlot for seventeen years, refusing money from the men that she copulated with, instead living by begging and spinning flax.

One day, however, she met a group of young men heading toward the sea to sail to Jerusalem for the veneration of the Holy Cross. Mary went along for the ride, seducing the men as they traveled for the fun of it. But when the group reached Jerusalem and actually went towards the church, Mary was prohibited from entering by an unseen force. After three such attempts, she remained outside on the church patio, where she looked up and saw an icon of the Theotokos. She began to weep and prayed with all her might that the Theotokos might allow her to see the True Cross; afterwards, she promised, she would renounce her worldly desires and go wherever the Theotokos may lead her.

After this heart-felt conversion at the doors of the church, she fled into the desert to live as an ascetic. She survived for years on only three loaves of bread and thereafter on scarce herbs of the land. For another seventeen years, Mary was tormented by “wild beasts—mad desires and passions.” After these years of temptation, however, she overcame the passions and was led by the Theotokos in all things.

Following 47 years in solitude, she met the priest St. Zosima in the desert, who pleaded with her to tell him of her life. She recounted her story with great humility while also demonstrating her gift of clairvoyance; she knew who Zosima was and his life story despite never having met him before. Finally, she asked Zosima to meet her again the following year at sunset on Holy Thursday by the banks of the Jordan.

Zosima did exactly this, though he began to doubt his experience as the sun began to go that night. Then Mary appeared on the opposite side of the Jordan; crossing herself, she miraculously walked across the water and met Zosima. When he attempted to bow, she rebuked him, saying that as a priest he was far superior, and furthermore, he was holding the Holy Mysteries. Mary then received communion and walked back across the Jordan after giving Zosima instructions about his monastery and that he should return to where they first met exactly a year later. When he did so, he found Mary’s body with a message written on the sand asking him for burial and revealing that she had died immediately after receiving the Holy Mysteries the year before (and thus had been miraculously transported to the spot where she now lay). So Zosima, amazed, began to dig, but soon tired; then a lion approached and began to help him, that is, after Zosima had recovered from his fear of the creature. Thus St. Mary of Egypt was buried. Zosima returned to the monastery, told all he had seen, and improved the faults of the monks and abbot there. He died at almost a hundred years old in the same monastery.

The Life of St. Mary of Egypt is read during Great Lent along with the Great Canon of St. Andrew.

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Filed under Flames of Wisdom

a little bit is enough

This past Sunday we heard a father and son story. This father’s son is possessed and can neither hear nor speak. The boy is overtaken and is sometimes thrown into fire to be burned up or into water to be drowned. The father takes his son to the disciples who aren’t fasting or praying and so can’t free the child. Jesus questions the father who says,

Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief.

This is not a riddle. This is what God does to the soul. He takes our unbelief, and if there’s the slightest seed of belief in us, he makes it grow. In St. Matthew’s Gospel, He explains that if your faith is as a mustard seed, God will do anything. A mustard seed is tiny; you can barely see it.

According to the fathers we are like the boy because we do not hear the Word of God and we do not speak out to praise of God. But, it is also true that we are like the father of the boy. We have a little belief mixed in with some unbelief. But that little bit of belief is enough for the Lord to act.

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Filed under Orthodox Christianity, Scripture Rumination