Thursday, December 25, 2008

St. Herman's day

Today old calender Orthodox Christians, like myself and my family, celebrate the feast of St. Herman of Alaska, one of the first and greatest Orthodox missionaries to America. There is lots of good information out there on his life and contributions to Orthodoxy, so I won't go on about that. If you're interested, I'm sure OrthodoxWiki would be a good place to start.

I've been thinking about a couple of things though. First, I'm glad that we American old calender Orthodox have something to celebrate today. With most of the country and lots of the world celebrating Christ's birth, it can get a little lonely over here in our corner. But we can celebrate St. Herman and his life and works.

Second, I'm very glad that Orthodoxy has such a good track record as missionaries. Orthodoxy has always been very respectful of indigenous cultures and ideas. While we don't bend the truth, we do adapt customs. And I think that's a very healthy thing. We have to spread the word of God, certainly. But we have to spread it with understanding and love, not with the sword and threat of violence or with blind disregard for the people who are supposed to receive it, as has all too often been done. St. Herman, like all Orthodox missionaries I know, was respectful and loving. Even today, the Alaska natives talk about him with love and honor. I read once that for them, to be an Alaska native is to be Orthodox. That says something to me about the success of St. Herman's mission.

At any rate, while most of the world is opening presents and eating turkey or ham and such, we'll be having fish. And maybe later on we'll watch a slide show of the Alaska wilderness where St. Herman spent most of his life.

Today, I'm thankful for what I've been given.

1 comment:

DebD said...

Happy Feast Day. I am also thankful for St. Herman and his wonderful example.