On the commemoration day of St. Demetrios, His Eminence was able to make his yearly trek to the North State in the cool, fall weather. He was carefully settled in, by the Grace of God, before torrential rains and winds hit the area. Hail, rain and wind were pouring into the front door of the church just prior to his arrival for Vespers!
His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin, presided over Vespers Saturday evening and then he and the Parish Council attended dinner at Cafe Paradisio. Chef Steven Berger hosted his Grace. His Grace spoke to us about some possibilities for a future priest. We shared recipes and parish concerns and Redding in general.
The children of the parish greeted him with flowers early Sunday morning. His Homily on Sunday was about giving of ourselves even if it is just "humanity" to the homeless, as that is as valuable for their salvation as ours. We can not eradicate poverty but we can offer humanity with a conversation and kindness to all. While St. Demetrios was a soldier, he is commemorated for, in the teaching of the Church, the spiritual warfare in which he engaged. This makes him worthy of emulation and in this way, his depiction holding weapons can be reconciled as merely symbolic and not an exhortation to or a glorification of violence. His Eminence described the difference in the Christian tradition of martyrs and other groups. NEVER will you see a Christian blowing others up with bombs strapped to their bodies. Our martyrdom can happen every day in kind acts of putting others first. We take great consolation in the Archbishop's words during these times of great worldly hostility.
Following Divine Liturgy a delightful and caloric meal followed before Archbishop Benjamin journeyed on to Chico for a visit to Sts. Cyril and Methodios Mission. We thank him for his time, prayers and covering over us.