July 1, 2013
With the blessing of His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland, Administrator of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral in Chicago hosted the Third Orthodox Conference from June 21-13, 2013. Invited to this event was Protopriest Andrei Tkachev of Kiev, renowned preacher and publicist, one of the most-read contributors to Pravoslavie.ru, host of the television program Na son gryadushchii [Evening prayers], author of Mysli o pokajanii [Thoughts on Repentance], Missijonerskije zapiski [Missionary Notes], Loskutnoje odejalo [Patchwork Quilt], Smotri, nebo stanovitsja blizhe [Behold, Heaven Approaches], Prigotovlenije k smerti [Preparation for Death], and other books.
The first two days of the conference were held at Novo-Gracanica Monastery of the Serbian Orthodox Church. On Friday evening, a bonfire discussion was held on a meadow at the shore of the monastery lake. Fr Andrei sat on a bench, with his listeners surrounding the bonfire, enthusiastically discussing Divine Liturgy. Some of the participants shared the thought that they felt like they were back in those distant times when the first Christians would sit around a fire, talking about Christ, strengthening their faith in Him in mutual love. On Saturday , Fr Andrei led a discussion on the family as a “school of all virtues,” touching upon the widest range of phenomena of daily life of each of us, how they affect our families, and how we can remain Christian in our times. The third day of the conference was held at Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral’s hall, where after Divine Liturgy and lunch, Fr Andrei frankly answered parishioners’ questions.
The participants were very grateful to Fr Andrei for his visit, despite his busy schedule and travel from halfway across the globe. God willing, everyone will bring home some words of wisdom. Gratitude was also expressed to His Grace Bishop Longin of Novo-Gracanica and Midwest America for his permission to use his monastery, and the Serbian brothers and sisters for their hospitality.
I remember how one of the former seminarians from Jordanville recounted how one of the hierarch of our Church, in his keynote address to the graduating seminarians, called the seminary “a school of Orthodox thought.” Indeed , this is accurate . Pondering this expression, it seems that seminars such as this one are also “schools of Orthodox thought.” We all have never needed “correct thought” as much as we do now. Correct thought should not only be our guide, but it unites everyone who wishes to live a good, Christian life.