My dear brothers and sisters in Christ! How do I begin to tell you of the joy that I felt at the recent St. Herman’s conference? It is truly amazing that so many people can come together for such a short time and feel as if we have known each other our whole lives. Truly we are blessed to be Orthodox! The services at the conference were beyond words, especially the ones at Novo Diveevo. The fact that so many of us came together, practicing only twice, and sang as we did was miraculous. I felt as I do on Pascha, when it is said we are the closest to being in Heaven.
I’m not sure which lecture was the best, but the two that touched me the most were Fr. Valery Lukianov’s and Fr. Joseph Hunnycutt’s.
Fr. Valery spoke on the importance of silence and thinking on God; that we shouldn’t constantly be trying to find some kind of entertainment, which is a common problem amongst those of us who are young. The world doesn’t help very much, with its constant call to watch this movie and listen to that rock band and to pretty much fight off any thought of God or that which is pure and good.
Fr. Joseph’s lecture, called “The Two Trees,” was about the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge. He explained in simple but interesting words what the differences between them are and what each of them offer. The Tree of Knowledge has all kinds of tempting and sweet fruits and offers an easy and “pleasant” life, but there is not much reward in the end. The Tree of Life, on the other hand, has Christ naked on the Cross - it offers a hard life but is filled with much reward at the end. The lecture really made me think of how rarely I chose the Tree of Life.
Some other things they had at the conference were panel discussions and workshops. These gave me a chance to ask questions about how to live in a more Orthodox and Christian manner. As the youth of the Church, we must learn this. It is so important that we learn how to live as true Orthodox Christians, because this we must teach our children, who in turn will teach it to theirs'. We carry much on our shoulders, but we do not carry it alone. We must not forget our faith!
The conference wasn’t perfect, and things went on that shouldn’t have. Some people acted in ways that were not Orthodox, but over all it was worthwhile. I pray that those who didn’t act as they should have will remember next year all of the things the priests begged of us, and will think of the example of Orthodoxy that they give. I hope that those of you who go for the first time will not be too quick to judge and will realize that people aren’t perfect. It takes time for people to reform and to realize what a gift they have! May God help and guide each and every one of us.
The conference was over too soon and already I look forward to next year’s
conference, which is to be held in Ottawa, Canada. I miss everyone so much, but I know that we
are in each other’s prayers, and that keeps us close. It is wonderful to have such a big family and
know that they pray for me. If you wish to receive more information about the St. Herman’s
Conference you can go to the website at: www.roca.org/stherman. Glory to God! Slava