On Saturday, March 3, 2018, Drs. David and Mary Ford traveled to Chicago for three speaking engagements at the Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church in Westchester, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, at the invitation of the priest there, Fr. Nicholas Georgiou. During the Sunday Liturgy the next morning, Dr. David gave the homily, on God's Love as seen in the writings of the Old Testament Prophets, St. John Chrysostom, and especially St. Gregory Palamas, since it was St. Gregory Palamas Sunday.
That evening was the first of three evening gatherings celebrating the 35th annual Book Week of the Holy Apostles parish, an event which always includes vespers or compline, lectures (and book-signings), as well as an extensive display of Orthodox books. Dr. David highlighted the Letters of Saint John Chrysostom to Saint Olympia, which he translated, and which was published recently by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press as part of their highly acclaimed Popular Patristics series. He spoke specifically on the theme of "Persevering through Trials, Tribulations, and Despondency in the Letters of St. John Chrysostom to St. Olympia the Deaconess," giving many quotes from the Letters - including these rousing words in praise of the Three Holy Youths in the fiery furnace:
"For the fire became bound, and the bound ones were delivered; and the furnace became a temple of prayer, a fountain of dew more awesome than the courts of kings. And fire, radiantly blazing, more powerful than iron and stone, and holding mastery over every other substance, was conquered by the strands of their hair. And an all-harmonious choir stood on that very spot, as the holy ones summoned all of creation unto the marvelous melody. They sent up hymns of thanksgiving for having been bound and set on fire by their enemies, and for having been driven from their homeland, for having been made prisoners, for having been deprived of their freedom, for having been banished and made homeless wanderers, and for having to sojourn in a foreign and barbarous land – all of this was fitting for a prudent soul to be thankful for" (Letter 7.C).
Then Monday evening, Dr. Mary spoke on "Persevering through Trials and Tribulations: Wisdom from the Book of Revelation." She highlighted how over one-fourth of the book is extremely positive and uplifting, reflecting the same teachings of the Saints through the ages on the most beneficial approach to persevering through suffering and trials.
Drs. David and Mary enjoyed seeing St. Tikhon's alumni Fr. Daniel Doss and Fr. Herman Kincaid, who came to the Sunday night gathering, as well as meeting many people from various parishes in the Chicago area at this wonderful, pan-Orthodox event - at which our own Dr. Harry Boosalis and Dr. Christopher Veniamin have spoken at in previous years.
On Tuesday morning, before their flight home, Drs. David and Mary were blessed to visit their old friends Fr. John and Presvytera Irene Rallis at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, in Des Plaines, Illinois, and to get a tour of the thriving K - 6 parochial day school that's run by this parish.
Dr. David commented, "It was a truly glorious trip. Fr. Nicholas and his Presvytera Michelle, Fr, Paniyiotes and his Presvytera Nicolia, Deacon Perry and his wife Diaconessa Pat, Fr. John and Matushka Emma Cazabonne, and everyone we were with were tremendously hospitable and appreciative of what we had to offer. May our All-Gracious Lord bless them all mightily!"
(Story and photos submitted by Dr. David Ford)