Entries Tagged as 'Religion'

A Little Lenten Aloha

Phoenix Palms found at Home Depot in IwileiLent has been quite a struggle this year.  Many of us have been sick, Mom spent time in the hospital again, taxes are still looming around, and there is a multitude of life’s other dramas rearing their ugly heads.

Sometime back (a few years ago) I took it upon myself to put the palm leaves together for Church, to be blessed and shared with the faithful on Palm Sunday.  Because I live in a condo, palm leaves are not always easy to come by.  You would think that, since we live in Hawai’i, finding those palms would be simple. Right? Not necessarily.

To avoid “borrowing” branches and leaves off the side of the road, or worse, every year I buy a couple of little trees from one garden shop or another.  I take the little guys outside to my car, cut off the bulk of leaves, and then take the newly-sheared plants back into the store I got them from — so they can give them away to another customer who might like some free plants!  You should see the looks I get!

This year, even buying these little trees was a problem.  The ones I found were, to put it kindly, sort of scrubby looking.  I finally resigned myself to a couple of Phoenix Palms that were for sale at Home Depot in Iwilei.  While telling the cashier about my annual palm activity she looked a little puzzled.  The conversation went something like this:

“That’s all you want, just the leaves?”

“That’s it,” I replied. “I’ll bring them back and you can give them to whoever wants ’em.”

“Oooh, I would like those!” she said, actually taking an interest in the conversation.

“Are you serious?”  I asked, a little amused.  She nodded eagerly and I couldn’t help but smile at her.  “Then they’re yours!  I’ll be right back.”

The way she said it was so sweet and so sincere.  She didn’t think I was coming back.  Yeah, you got it, she took them home.  They were pretty bald but she was so happy to have them and thanked me for the gift. I gave her a hug and wished her a Happy Easter.  As I confirmed that she had a copy of the receipt so her employer wouldn’t accuse her of stealing, she still seemed incredulous.

Palms and pussy willows for Palm SundayTo lighten things up a little I grinned at her and said, “I’ll come see you next year to cut their branches off!”  She giggled and said she would let me know.  I needed that fun experience.  Just a moment of sharing a giving moment with a stranger who appreciated it — lent, and my life, go just a little bit better.  Seems odd?  I think so too.  I couldn’t help but want to share it here.

The picture on the right is what they became.  Since I attend a Russian Orthodox Church, it is tradition to include pussy willows because Russia has no palms.  At this time of year, the flora most in bloom in Russia is pussy willows — they grow even when snow still covers the ground!  So, we take palm leaves, some stalks of pussy willows, and tie them with a bow to be blessed!  That way we take advantage of both tradition and Tradition.

Do we grow pussy willows here?  Uh, not that I know of!  Watanabe Floral always takes care of that for me, and other floral needs, every year.  I also got the bows from them — and very beautiful bows they were!

Aloha spirit all around?  You bet!  Sending a huge mahalo out to Home Depot for hiring the right people and to Watanabe Floral for what they provide and for having the best staff that tolerate me, even when I’m horrid and grouchy!  Of course, flowers do tend to put us in a better mood.  🙂

Kawaiaha’o Church Finds Treasure

Kawaiahao Church at the end of the rainbow

That’s Kawaiaha’o Church at the end of the rainbow in this photo.  It’s all about the angle. It might be Queen’s hospital or Honolulu Hale  at the end of that rainbow, if you were coming from a different direction, but this worked for me! It worked even better when this story about finding the iwi (bones) hit the news.  This happens so very often when new construction happens.  My initial comment when I heard about this  was, “tell me a better place to have something like this happen?!?”  This is on the Church grounds.  They have indeed found treasure at the end of that rainbow! (Just for recognition’s sake, I have included a photo of Kawaiaha’o Church below that was taken from the angle that people are most accustomed to seeing.)

Most common view of Kawaiaha’o Church

Hawaiians have always believed that the power or mana of a person, their spiritual essence as it were, is in their bones (iwi).  Many Hawaiians still hold fast to this belief and many others, whether they believe it or not, recognize and respect it as a valuable part of our culture.  We will revisit this topic in a future post because I want to learn and share more about it.  I think it will help to explain some things that have puzzled me, and probably some things that have puzzled others.

Even if the traditional Hawaiian view of the significance of the iwi (bones) is not their view, most local people will take a step back, respect the significance of findings such as this, and send everything to a screeching halt!  I applaud the deference shown by our government offices and the businesses that honor this tradition.

Then I saw this and was aghast!  It was okay when they were widening Queen Street and relocated the remains of many.  Nobody complained then.  If they did, I never heard about it, or it escaped me completely.

Memorial stone commemorating unmarked graves at Kawaiaha’o ChurchI only know this grave stone that sits on the corner of the church property, at the intersection of Punchbowl and Queen Streets, that carries an inscription that reads:

“In memory of our beloved unknown friends of yesteryears found in unmarked graves during the excavation of Queen Street.  These 102 beloved souls are committed unto Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, and their remains tenderly laid to rest in peace in this place.”  November 20, 1988

A little church trying to enhance its ability to help and educate the community is now the target of this ugly publicity?  An article I read said that the remains of the family in question were not touched.  I’m not a party to any of this and I do not know all the details but, if this is the case and there was no damage done, all I can say is,Auwe!

For all of the times that something like this has happened, I can’t think of a better situation.  The families can rest assured that this matter will be handled with the greatest of care.  My heart goes out to this little church and its parishioners.  This is quite a quandary but I know that the iwi will be given the full focus and attention of the leaders and members of this historic institution.

Sending heartfelt wishes for a peaceful resolution and for God’s blessings for Kawaiaha’o Church and the treasured iwi entrusted to their loving care!

Saying Aloha to Friends is Always Difficult

When a stranger shows up at church on a motorcycle (in complete motorcycle attire), most people would either raise an eyebrow, scratch their head or just freak out altogether.  My first reaction was, “Awesome, you’ve gotta love a guy who brings his motorcycle to church!”

Bikers go to Church too!

For me, this presented yet another way to impress upon the rest of the World that motorcyclists are not the rebellious, drunken, Godless, skull swinging, hell’s angels that everyone likes to think they are.  So there!

Lazar and his motorcycle

Such was the case with Lazar, our friend pictured here to the right.  I look back on it now and laugh.  Here was a notable presence, complete with heavy jacket, helmet, and all, walking into church and ruffling a few feathers (I don’t really know if that’s true but I’m pretty darn sure).  Whatever the case, it’s certainly worth a chuckle because Lazar is so the opposite of the biker stereotype.  🙂   This was about three or four years ago now, I think.  More recently, I discovered that Lazar was someone with whom I could share my concern about the repeated motorcycle tragedies plaguing our roadways.  He was a biker who put safety first and wasn’t in denial about the danger.  Finally!

Alas, life being what it is, and Hawaii being where it is, we’re about to lose yet another we have said hello and then had to say goodbye to more people than I can count.  Honolulu International Airport has a revolving door, I swear!  It seems that you just find common ground and come to a meeting of the minds with someone and *poof* they’re gone.

Fan of Serbia and supporter of its causes.

Lazar has a great aloha for Serbia and now his heart is going to take him there.  I wonder if the Serbian people will understand “Serbocharged.”  I got it so I suppose they will.

Coffee hour with Bosa and Lazar

You’ll be missed, Lazar. I know you don’t believe it, but you will. This Saturday there will be a short service with prayers for the safe travel of our friends. I almost got out of this departure without any tears — no guarantees about Saturday’s travel moleiben (prayer service).

While many people have an affinity for different lands and different cultures throughout the World, one might say, “Yes, but why leave home and move there?”

Lazar and Vesna together.

Aha!  That’s why!  You’ll never catch me questioning or arguing with matters of the heart.  His lady, Vesna, awaits his arrival back at home, in Serbia.  May God bless you both, bless your lives together, and always keep you safe!

Aloha kaua (may there be friendship between us) always!

Discovery at Mauna ‘Ala

Here’s something different — I’ve noticed that when people are asked about their relationships they often say things like, “it’s complicated.”  Married, single, divorced?  Boy friend/girl friend?  “It’s complicated.”  If someone were to ask me about my “relationship” with my home and its people, I would have to say, “it’s complicated.” There is no question that I am very passionate about my home and there is no doubt that I love its people very deeply. But, just like we all do with members of our family, I get ticked off sometimes.  Whether it be with family or with others, we all have a tendency to fly off the handle about things before we know the full story.

Before sharing my internal grumblings with you guys, I will always try to be sure that I’m right or, as I am about to do now, I will tell you the whole story, all about how wrong I was, and how I corrected my internal strife.

Ho’oponopono is one of my favorite Hawaiian concepts. It is a way that families or groups get together to discuss their differences and resolve any issues they may be having between them. You could call it a healing process.  It’s a process that I’ve always admired and one that I took to heart many years ago.  More recently, I saw it labeled as, “mental cleansing.”  That definition certainly works for me on this one!

So, with all of that in mind, let me share a little story. Don’t “go off” until you’ve read the whole thing!  I already did that.

Torn and Reconciled

On April 20th, I finally got to walk on the grounds of the Royal Mausoleum. I was excited and a little scared. I walked across the lawn looking at things and something suddenly made me stop and think — I couldn’t believe it. Shock and dismay left me questioning my ability to judge character.  “Why? How could they do that to them?!? How could they be so cruel?”

Let me explain.  We need to back up a little to understand this faulty thought process of mine.  It all started with a small bit of knowledge — knowledge that Kamehameha Schools removed the “Bishop” name from their own. They didn’t want a “haole name” in the name of the school. Fine. That’s your choice. Whatever. To be honest, with all of the bad publicity surrounding Bishop Estate, I would have preferred to disassociate from that as well. I shook my head and left it at that. Then I read somewhere about the love between Princess Bernice Pauahi and Charles Reed Bishop and I started to feel badly and very sad about the name thing.

Now let’s get back to the Mausoleum. Stay with me now, this is where I mix things all up in my head.

Entrance to Mauna 'Ala, the Royal Mausoleum of Hawai'i

The gates are open at Mauna ‘Ala, the Royal Mausoleum, and I can go in! There’s the Queen’s burial site! There’s Queen Lili’uokalani’s resting place, the last sovereign of Hawaii. Wow, finally! Who’s next to her? John Dominis. (My mental wheels go screech!) “Huh?”

“Uh, excuse me, what’s more haole than that?”  Okay, there is Error #1.  This is also known as jumping to conclusions without thinking. Can we talk about a time line here? Hint: There is NO connection between these burials and the name of Kamehameha Schools! Moving on…

Charles Reed Bishop monument

They put Charles Reed Bishop out on the lawn all by himself! Enter in my Error #2.

Kamehameha Crypt frome the side with Charles Bishop's monument in the background

“Where’s his wife anyway? Probably down there with the Queen and everybody else and I just didn’t see her name,” grumble, grumble, grumble. As you can see from the picture above, this was Error #3. Bernice Pauahi’s name is with the rest of the Kamehameha family, right next to Charles out there on the lawn! (That’s the crypt that Charles built for them after she died, by the way.)

Yes there were errors but they accomplished something important — they sent me on a mission to understand what happened.  That mission has opened doors to so many things!

Elimination of the Errors

  • Error #1: I had the Kamehameha School thing stuck in my brain and that was recent. Queen Lili’uokalani and Governor Dominis were interred many, many years before that! I get one slap for that one.
  • Error #2: Charles Bishop was put there by his own design. One more slap for me! Kamehameha School might want to rethink the removal of the name of someone with so much caring, respect, and regard for the royal family!  Just a thought.
  • Error #3: She’s right there! Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop is not only right next to Mr. Bishop’s memorial stone, his ashes were actually interred with her in the Kamehameha Crypt before it was permanently sealed! Three slaps for me!

I could not have been more wrong!  My internal dismay and whining changed into something like this:

“OMG! There she is! Charles was put where? OMG! See?!? They didn’t. They couldn’t. They wouldn’t. They could never be cruel! I knew that.”

Research, patience, and understanding leads to an internal drama successfully reconciled.  The fact that Charles’ urn  was placed on Bernice Pauahi’s casket by Prince Kuhio was just wonderful frosting on the cake for me! (Source: Mauna ‘Ala Hawai’i’s Royal Mausoleum, Last Remnant of a Lost Kingdom by Don Chapman with William Kaihe’ekai Mai’oho)  Their love was not overlooked, it was highly respected.  Ponopono = setting it straight; setting me straight!

I’m not saying that Charles was an angel.  I don’t know enough about it all, but I’ll keep digging and I’ll let you know!

SPECIAL NOTE about Kamehameha Schools: Don’t take any of this the wrong way! If I had a child, right now, with Hawaiian blood, I would do everything in my power to enroll that child in the Kamehameha Schools system. They produce fine students! I have only the highest respect for the quality of education that they provide! (It’s not their fault that I’m a mush bucket who jumps to conclusions.)

There’s so much to uncover, so much to tell — I don’t even know where to start.  The stories all link together, the history all links together, my discoveries all link together. I want so much to share — it’s so fascinating. There is so much we don’t know! Did our education system let us down. In this department I’m afraid they did. I’ll share what I find, I promise!

In the mean time, Mauna ‘Ala is a beautiful place to visit and to just sit down for a while and think.  It’s so peaceful and there is such a feeling of safety and sanctity there.  If you have not been there, you need to be sure you add it to your list of places to visit!

In Search of Restoration

Crypt Entrance (photos inside are discouraged)As you step carefully down the narrow stairway, you well see a little plaque on your left next to the gate. You can see it in the picture to the right. On the plaque is written a short little blessing labeled the “Kawananakoa Gate Blessing.” (The Kawananakoa family is there with the Queen too!)

That little plaque reads as follows:

HARBINGERS OF ALOHA
THROUGH A BLACK LACE VEIL, SHIMMERING
UNLOCK OUR LOVE
LEST WE FORGET FROM WHENCE WE CAME

AND AS WE TOO SLIP THE SURLY BONDS OF EARTH
TO FLY WITH IWALANI
LET OUR CHILDREN JOIN HANDS HERE
TO TOUCH THE SOUL OF ALOHA

                                               August 29, 1986

It’s not all that old.  I don’t know who wrote it but it’s very beautiful, very touching, and very fitting. In a coming post, “In Search of Restoration,” I will tell you why I say it is so fitting.

For now, I just felt the need to share my little joyful moment of discovery with the World.  Readers know where my heart is. This is my home and this is our history.

My Country Lied To Me!

Remember when they covered the news with all of those stories about the ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Kosovo? Remember we bombed the heck out of what was once Yugoslavia because of those claims?

Pure fiction! They lied to us! There was no such ethnic cleansing. It was all propaganda and false media reporting. How can we now look away and ignore this? Has our entire country become so parochial that we’re comfortably oblivious to the atrocities that are done with (and sometimes without) our citizen’s oblivious stamp of approval?

I know the newsies are laughing at me. Yeah, I know, you news experts are chuckling and wondering why I’m so surprised. You’re thinking, “They always lie to us, didn’t you know that?” Yeah, okay, I know. But this, for me anyway, is way beyond anything I have experienced in the way of deception by my own government.

If our government officials had said to us that we needed to protect our interest in the oil, we would have understood that. The problem is, they know we would have NOT understood, or tolerated, our country backing drug-trafficking terrorists! That’s what they were doing.

Are you mad yet? Believe me, it took me a while to cool down enough so that this post wouldn’t sound like raving lunacy. So, why am I writing about this? What does this have to do with me? What does this have to do with Honolulu? Read on…

The United States is not without its share of Serbian Americans. Serbian Orthodox churches all over the United States held big demonstrations about our (the United States of America’s) condoning of the Kosovar Albanians claiming Kosovo as their own — declaring independence in a land that is not and never was theirs.

My friends and members of my Church family are deeply hurt by this — hurt from personal, historic, religious and ethnic standpoints. Comparatively speaking, the declaration of disgust expressed in Honolulu was very small, but just as sincere and heartfelt nonetheless.

Local Serbians Taking a Stand

They gathered a concerned few together and met in front of the Federal Building just outside of downtown Honolulu. What America has done, without the knowledge of its citizenry, is to create a stage for this mess to play out where the outcry is too soft to be heard. Nobody is talking about it. The media is disinterested because there is no mob and there is no violence in the street. The feeble cry of, “but Kosovo is Serbia!” falls on deaf ears.

Answering Questions

Yes, people were more than willing to talk it through — more than willing to explain their position and why it hurts them. I was able to get the full impact of those explanations. But, where do I go for a disinterested party?

At this point of discovery I am angry. I needed more information to make a case for seeing the Serbian side of this Kosovo conflict. I needed more to disagree so vehemently with my own government — the government that is supposed to be doing good throughout the World.

Increasingly frustrated and still in denial that my country could be so deceitfully secretive, and leave us with no access to news from the other side, I kept searching. You see, it’s not that we don’t care, it’s that we just don’t know and we don’t fully understand the degree of our involvement.

Other countries think our calm is because we’re wimps. That is not the case. We are seeking knowledge and trying to ascertain the truth. I don’t want to hear governmental rhetoric that is laced with “creative” truths, aka lies, that are designed to sway public opinion. Give me the facts and let me make my own decisions on the movements of the people we voted into office!

Bosa holds a sign kept in the family since WWIDo we have culture clashes going on here? Definitely. Hawaii, of all places, should be used to it! Well, for the bulk of the population, the Slavic nations haven’t made a large enough impact on Hawaii to keep us all paying attention to what’s going on with their cultures and their homelands. We keep track of China, Japan and the Philippines, but, for the most part, the European Union seems to be kind of off our radar.

The media (I refer here to mainland media — our local stations are exempt on this topic) is obviously hell-bent on lying to us. Either that or they’re being strong-armed or paid huge sums to rewrite the facts. So, we need news sources that come directly from the people — people who are in the middle of it all and know the truth. Fox News is already on my list of places not to listen to because they shoot their mouths off before verifying their information — anything for headlines and to be first with breaking news — even if it’s false!

I really don’t want to add CNN to that ugly place of distrust. Sigh. This is a classic reason why we need something like the blogosphere if we expect to get the truth. We’ll get particles of truth, but at least they’ll be just that — the truth! When I say blogosphere I mean real people, not spin-off blogs from the news channels — those are just the same thing we already get from the media with some added editorial comment. They’re not bad, they’re just not reliable when the honesty of their station(s) is being questioned.

The blogosphere I’m talking about is the actual people living in the neighborhoods they’re talking about. The real people that understand the culture and current events and are living and sharing their lives with the world through their blogs.

While our local media and blogs are quiet about the topic of Kosovo, the blogosphere as a whole is not without its opinion and voice on this matter. Nothing Against Serbia tells us about how Zurich has heard the pleas of its Serbian population.

So, Now What?

Where do you think the United States stands with Serbia now? Our applauding this illegal drama has made Russia mad at us too. Have we made enemies out of our friends?

The damage has been done, so what will Washington do now to keep the peace? Anything? Hmmm… I wonder what Barack Obama would do to fix the situation? I don’t know. Perhaps he will open the lines of communication and help mend the rift and discuss options with all involved. What would Hillary Clinton do? NOTHING! Her husband was president when it started! What will McCain do? Nothing — he and his party want to continue it all in their “business as usual” manner.

What can we do? Not much. As citizens we can acknowledge the injustice done to our brethren so far across the globe, we can send venom-filled letters to our representatives in Congress, or we can pray for them as seen here.

Prayers for Kosovo

Why does our Russian Orthodox Priest see this as important? Aside from the fact that Serbia gave refuge to the Russian Orthodox so many, many years ago, when so many were threatened by the communists, Father Anatole justifies his prayerful support in this way:

First of all, ANY immoral act, whether committed by an individual or by a government, must be condemned in no uncertain words. Let me just cite a few undisputed facts connected with the Kosovo debacle:

1. Kosovo is not only a territory which formed the heartland of Medieval Serbia, but by long standing tradition it is the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate. In addition, there are (or were) many historically important churches and monasteries in Kosovo.

2. When NATO, led by the United States, was threatening to bomb Serbia and Kosovo, the Kosovar Terrorists (a.k.a. ‘freedom fighters’ in the United States) were demanding full independence from Yugoslavia. At that time Clinton’s girdle saleswoman, Madeline Albright, told the Kosovar Albanians that ‘unless you only ask for autonomy, NATO cannot bomb the Serbs.’ Well, since the Albanians wanted Serbs to be bombed they changed their demand to ‘autonomy’.

3. NATO was originally formed to defend Western Europe from aggression from the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries. Yugoslavia, at the time of the bombing was not allied with the Soviet Union, and the Warsaw Pact had disappeared. Thus, the bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO was not an act mandated to it – it was interference in the internal affairs of a country that had not attacked anyone.

4. During Miloshevich’s crackdown against the Albanian separatists in Kosovo it was the Serbian Orthodox Church that did its best to shelter and defend innocent Albanian civilians. And what thanks did it get after the Serbs were driven out of Kosovo? Churches, monasteries were burned and desecrated, and the NATO peacekeepers did little to stop the Kosovars from doing their ‘ethnic cleansing’.

5. There is so little law and order in Kosovo now that after NATO eventually pulls out, the remainder of the Serbs in Kosovo can only expect genocidal attacks against them. (And the Kosovars can be sure that they will be in no way punished by NATO and the United States for that.)

6. Finally, the Israelis, if not the United States government, have spotted the precedent, a very unfavorable precedent for them, in the Kosovo situation. If NATO can bomb a sovereign state because that state refuses to grant independence to one of its territories where a particular ethnic group is in the majority and even engages in terrorist acts against it, what is preventing the Palestinians from declaring independence in Gaza and the West Bank? After all, logically, NATO should be protecting them against Israel by bombing the Israelis. One may also add to this, the Kurdish separatists in Eastern Turkey, the Basque separatists in Spain, etc., etc.

Saint Lazar of SerbiaDoes he know what he’s talking about? You bet. A now retired linguistics professor from the University of Hawaii, Father Anatole has had his own ethnic reasons to follow the news of the Slavic regions all these years. He is Russian and he was born in Yugoslavia where his mother, like many other Russian people fleeing the Russian communist regime, was given sanctuary.

Peaceful by nature, with a strong and passionate Christian Faith, prayers over the icon of the Serbian saint, Saint Lazar, offer some peace to the distressed Serbs who continue to watch their ethnic homeland and the holy places of its national Church being desecrated. This is all the more hurtful when the land they now call home applauds these visual and mental horrors.

Why is America Being So Disagreeable?

Caution: The following is my paranoid opinion section based only on my own thoughts and observations.

Could all of this be the reason for the rise in the cost of gas? The new pipeline to transport the ever-coveted oil from one country to the next is an ongoing project. That pipeline runs right through Kosovo! Hello?!?

Okay, maybe that’s being just a little too paranoid but, $9 billion of oil revenue has suddenly vanished? (I was listening to Dianne Feinstein on CNN with Wolf Blitzer and had to go get the transcript just to confirm what I thought I heard.) Was that to fund the sending of more soldiers to “help” the citizens of Iraq or are we going there to distract the American public from the travesty in Kosovo? What ever they’re doing, it’s working.

Let’s think about it:

Tibetan Monks being persecuted by China, we say nothing. There’s no oil involved.

Darfur abuses are running rampant and we verbally condemn them, but nothing more. There’s no oil involved.

Yet phony genocide is retaliated with war with a country over it’s own property. That would be like Mexico taking over California or Cuba taking of Florida and calling it their own, with the help of the army from yet another country. What were we thinking? It’s all about the oil.

Okay, that’s the end of my paranoid opinion section.

I was almost ready to wrap this up and then I ran into this article about Russia, China, and India looking to revisit this very issue with Kosovo. The article opens with:

“The US administration rejected with derision Thursday’s joint call by Russia, China and India to resume talks on the future status of Kosovo.”

With “derision?” Who the hell do we think we are?!? I swear we have no diplomacy or shred of decency left! We have GOT to change what’s going on in the White House.

Still hungry for more? There are articles galore but here is just a bit more reading if you care to absorb more information about this fiasco. I just can’t stand this oil-based hypocrisy.

Memory Eternal, Metropolitan Laurus!

Orthodox Cross with ilima and tuberose leisHis Grace, Metropolitan Laurus, the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), fell asleep in the Lord this morning. The Russian Orthodox parishes across the country are feeling this loss very deeply. Orthodox blogger, Felix Culpa, shares a nice post with more detailed information than I have been privy to and for that I am sincerely grateful! Thank you, Mr. Culpa.

After Liturgy today, the Russian Orthodox Community of Hawaii, the Holy Theotokos of Iveron Russian Orthodox Church, served a pannikhida (memorial service) for the Metropolitan. From Honolulu, Hawaii to Jordanville, New York, the Orthodox share in this loss. For the monks in Jordanville, my heartfelt prayers go out to you for your continued strength and fortitude during this confusing time.

There is some peace to be found in knowing that Metropolitan Laurus was able to see the lines of communication opened between ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate. He was able both to witness and to participate in the healing of that division.

Give rest, oh Lord, to the soul of Thy departed servant! May his memory be eternal!

Crime on “My Turf” Makes Me Angry!

So, I get to fuss and fume about it. Yesterday, the Honolulu Advertiser reported that a man reported “being robbed at knife point on Nuuanu.” This supposedly occurred at 1:30 AM. Thinking it was somewhere down near Chinatown (which wouldn’t be that uncommon at that hour), I ignored the story. However, I have it on good authority and from a reliable source, that this is where the caller was sitting in his car when the supposed incident happened…

Soto Mission Parking Lot

According to the man reporting the incident to police, some hoodlum actually tried to cut him with a serrated knife that had a five-inch blade. What?!? So, he takes the guy’s DVD player and rides away on a bike (bicycle) according to the short article. He supposedly had a dark complexion and was wearing jeans and a gray shirt. Well, that’s not very helpful.

These pictures were taken around 6:00 PM or so last night — just before sunset. The parking lot, as you can see, is already deserted except for two, maybe three cars. What was the alleged victim doing there at 1:30 AM, on a Monday morning?!? As far as I’m concerned, I see them both as something to worry about — if the story is genuine!

Soto Mission Parking Lot

I can’t even begin to explain how angry this makes me… on several levels. First of all, this is a quiet area and it is a church’s property, which neighbors another church’s property! Second and most important, just off to the left of this picture is the Soto Academy, i.e. an elementary school! Just off to the right, is Cathedral School! In addition, this parking lot is only about 200 yards or so away from Kawananakoa Middle School. On a personal level, I frequent this area, and sometimes after dark! Albeit, not at 1:30 in the frickin’ morning! Idiots! How dare these people!

This turf belongs to me and my neighbors! This is our home! Creeps! Don’t you be bringing your crime element crap, dangerous-weapon waving and loitering menaces around here! Hit the road, Jack(s)! I’ve been ripped off three+ times and I’m sick of it! Make your headlines elsewhere!

President Vladimir Putin Lends a Hand

Putin was the driving force behind the reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia (the Moscow Patrirchate) and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). For nearly a hundred years an ugly rift has existed between them because communism reared its ugly head in Russia in the early 20th century. On Thursday, May 17th, the Feast day of the Ascension, this separation was ended.

This is Honolulu. What does this have to do with us? Well, tonight there will be no vespers at the Russian Orthodox parish, and tomorrow we will only have a lay service. Where’s the priest of the Russian Orthodox Community of Hawaii? In Russia, of course! This is an historical event that clergy from all over the world, if at all possible, would and did make every effort to attend.

Time Magazine reports the story as follows:

Putin’s Reunited Russian Church
by Yuri Zarakhovich/Moscow

The Russian Orthodox Church was torn in two by revolution and regicide, by the enmity between communism and capitalism, nearly a century of fulmination and hatred. That all formally ended on Thursday in Moscow. Thousands of the Russian Orthodox faithful — including several hundred who flew in from New York — lined up under heavy rain to get into the Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. There, they witnessed the restoration of the “Canonical Communion and Reunification” of the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), which claims more than 70 million adherents, and the U.S.-based Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR), which is believed to be 1.5 million strong. Many among the clergy and laity wept at the end of the 86 year-old schism brought about by the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, and the ensuing murder of the dethroned Tsar and the forced emigration of hundred thousands Russians defeated in Civil war.

This story of course goes on to talk about how Putin has only political reasons for this, but just to watch a man of this political stature cross himself in an Orthodox manner is something to behold! To view the entire service you can go here. Thank you to Reader Nectarios for that link.

Political Science major, Zachary Williams, on his blog at otium cum dignitate does a much better job of painting a background for this article than I can. Much of Zachary’s feelings mirror my own. There were many people in favor of this reunification and many people against it. I can see both sides since they both have very good cases for their positions.

Zachary can correct me if I’m wrong but I think that, for most Americans, being Orthodox is not about ethnicity — it’s all about the truth of Faith and the Church’s preservation and adherence to that Faith. Anyway, I digress. This is just another historic moment that Honolulu has some, albeit very small, amount of participation in, or is impacted by, the events of world history.

Christ is Risen!

Such is the victory cry of Orthodox Christians all over the world just after midnight on Easter morning. Christ’s victory over death and the key of the Christian faith everywhere is worth singing about. The Orthodox Community of Hawaii, better known as the “Church of the Iveron Icon of the Theotokos” is no exception.

Located at 931 Hausten Street, just a block away from University Avenue, this little mission parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) goes all the way through Lent and Holy Week commemorating and celebrating just like its mainland brethren and its ruling diocese on Geary Street in San Francisco.

Many of you are saying, “Huh?” Yes, on occasion the Orthodox Church has been called the best kept secret. They don’t proselytize, they just are. “In Hawaii?” Surprise! Actually, one of the first Orthodox services held in Hawaii was by Russian Clergy who disembarked for the service from a ship temporarily in port while passing the islands. That was a very, very long time ago. Hawaii was not a State, not a territory and not Christian.

Parish in purple.

The lenten period begins with the tables, icon stands and even the music stands draped in purple. The clergy’s vestments are as well. It stays this way for all of lent until Palm Sunday when the covers, and the Priest’s vestments, are changed to green for that day.

Basket of palm leaves tied to pussy willow branches with purple ribbon.An interesting thing about the Russian Orthodox Church is that something is different about those palm leaves, as you can see. In Russia there are no palm leaves. The only thing in bloom at this time of year is pussy willows. So, that’s what they used to commemorate Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. The tradition in Honolulu, and in San Francisco, is to have both palm leaves and pussy willows since there is access to both!

After Palm Sunday, the colors are changed to black for Holy Week.

HolyFridayOn Great and Holy Friday (aka Good Friday) the icon of the body of Christ is surrounded by flowers and venerated by the faithful during morning and evening services.

In addition to the usual services for Great and Holy Friday, the parish in Honolulu, in the typical Hawaiian style of ethnic blending, has seen fit to incorporate a couple of services from the Greek Orthodox tradition. One of those is the service of Lamentations which is done on Friday evening as well.

On Saturday night in anticipation of the midnight Resurrection service, people crowd into the small little parish and wait. Prayers are read and hymns are sung repeating the tragic events just one more time before the triumph. Because of the global time difference Honolulu is probably one of, if not THE, last places to celebrate the Holy Resurrection. The Church is in darkness and and all lights are extinguished.

A single candle light emerges Father leads the procession around outside the church.from the altar and is passed back to all the faithful who are now holding candles awaiting the flame to come their way. In Jerusalem several hours before, the Holy Fire presented itself in great glory.

Father, now vested in white, leads the procession of candle-holding parishioners around outside in a procession as he and the faithful sing,

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling down death by death
and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

Inside, the covers have now all been changed to white. The service of the Resurrection is completed and is followed by Divine Liturgy.

Hawaiian BibleOn Sunday morning, the parishioners return to Church for Agape Vespers which includes the reading of the appropriate gospels in a variety of languages.

This year, the parish in Honolulu read the gospels in Slavonic, English, Chinese, German and, you got it, Hawaiian! The Reader of the parish made sure of that!

Here is our Hawaiian vocabulary word, or Word, for this past weekend: Na ‘Euanelio Hemolele, the inscription on Icon stand with Resurrection Icon and basket of blessed eggsthe book seen here, means The Holy Gospel. But, I know you knew that!

After the Agape Vespers (agape is Greek for love) the little Russian parish celebrates at its Agape Picnic. They celebrate with all of the meat, eggs, dairy products and non-lenten cuisine you can possibly handle!

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

Russian: Khristos Voskrese! Voistinu Voskrese!