Archpastoral visit to St. Xenia Skete & St. Andrew's Church in Northern California

St. Xenia Skete, Wildwood, CaliforniaOn Saturday morning my eight year-old son, John and I went with two other parishioners from our church in Anderson to Wildwood, CA to visit St. Xenia's Skete and to serve Liturgy with His Grace Bishop Maxim.  The weather during the past couple of days had been very hot and wehoped that it would be comfortable at St. Xenia's.  We were not disappointed as were blessed with cool but sunny weather during the outdoor liturgy which was also served with Fr. Hilarion the abbot of St Herman's Monastery in Platina and Fr. Paisius also from St. Herman's.  After the beautiful litrugy, we crowded into the trapeza for a wonderful meal of salmon and rice and vegetables.

His Grace entertained our questions and talked especially about forgiveness.  This conversation carried over into discussions we had at St. Andrew's which proved to be very spiritually helpful for all of us. He helped us grasp a more radical definition of forgiveness that went beyond merely not wishing evil or tolerating the one who has violated us.  The Greek word, "synchoresis" combines the the prefix "syn" which means "to gather" or "come together" and "choresis" (sp?) which refers to space.  So, forgiveness is actually allowing the other to return into our space to once again beceom part of us.  This is further illustrated by Christ's forgiveness of us and in His taking on our sins for the sake of our salvation. 

After His Grace spent some time at St Xenia's and did a short visit to St Herman's not fa away, he joined us for a meeting with our parish council to discuss issues of parish life.  Again the theme of forgiveness was discussed as well as communication.  Afterwards, His Grace presided over our vespers service. This time both of my boys got to serve while Bp. Maxim was here. Since we rarely see His Grace, it's always an exercise in relearning how to serve in the presence of a hierarch.     It's good for our humility!  We had a very pleasant meal with the Bishop and then had a short talk with all those who gathered for vespers.  Later, His Grace came to stay at our house and we had a pleasant time of fellowship including some stargazing with a large telescope.
On Sunday, His Grace presided at St Andrew's during hte Divine Liturgy.  His homily was a message about the need to respond to the call of Christ just as Peter had when He was calling his disciples together. Afterwards, we had another wonderful meal together where we learned about the latest situation in Kosovo from a guest who was both a nun and a doctor. At last we said our goodbyes as HIs Grace headed back to Sacramento and his next destination.
Article by Fr. George Elliot


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