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Newsletter for February, 2002

Dear Friend of St. Athanasius Academy:

Greetings in the Faith and Love of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ!

Remember our note about RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS?

Well, you'll recall it went this way: Every now and then people talk about "random acts of kindness." Indeed, I have even see a bumper sticker that read PRACTICE RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS. I don't know about the "random" part, but I've experienced a lot of kindness in my time -- kindness that often came unexpectedly. And I suppose that is what is meant by random acts of kindness. Looking back, some of them stand out particularly. For example (and you may have heard me tell this story before): in June 1950, I enrolled in graduate school at the University of Iowa a week before graduation at Purdue University. Having very little money, I hitch-hiked from West Lafayette to Iowa City and hitch-hiked back a week later for graduation. That evening I got a ride out the highway to hitch-hike back to Iowa City. After some uneventful hours I got a ride on a steel-hauling truck about 30 miles up the road. There I was on US41 outside of Kentland, Indiana -- shivering in the night cool -- at about 2:00 o'clock in the morning with few cars going by, and none slowing down. Suddenly, out of the dark came a shiny new Cadillac convertible which stopped. The driver gave me a ride and asked questions about where I was going and why, etc. Instead of stopping in Hammond, where I would have taken US6 across to Iowa City, he drove me into Chicago to the train station, where he bought me a ticket to Iowa City and handed me a $20 bill. I do not know the name of that man, but his kindness was a memorable event in my life -- one of so very many I have experienced that I could never begin to so much as list them all.

I suspect what was done for me that June night so long ago fits in the category being labeled "random acts of kindness." If we consider just a bit, we will realize that we are all called by God to engage in such behavior -- that this is precisely the point made by our Lord in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). And if we reflect just a little more, we will see that "random" is hardly the right adjective -- especially to describe what we are called upon to practice. For it is clear God does not wish us to throw acts of kindness randomly into the mix of our daily lives. Rather, kindness is to be central to our way of life. As St. Paul says, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23). If we had a bumper sticker concerning such matters, it perhaps should read "PRACTICE RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS." Forget the "RANDOM," we should be kind at all times.

In the summer of 1992 we received a letter from an inmate at a prison in Texas. Shortly thereafter he became a student in our Correspondence Studies Program. From his success and enthusiasm others followed. This prisoner and a number of those others were converted to the Orthodox Christian faith, and some years ago Fr. Duane Pederson of The Orthodox Christian Street and Prison Ministry visited that prison and baptized and chrismated a number of prisoners. There have been more since, and finally they asked for a catechism suitable for prisoners. Eventually, a project was laid out for the development of a concise catechism appropriate for this purpose. Providing this group of prisoners with materials to work from, Fr. Duane set them forth on the project. Back and forth went the product of their work, and the catechism was produced. Now it is being published by The Orthodox Street and Prison Ministry — as part of the Orthodox Christian Journey Series — Book Two: Orthodox Christian Catechism — with copies due sometime in February. Although The Prison Ministry (now directed by Fr. David Ogan) will provide them free to prisoners, prison libraries and chaplains, as long as funds are available, the rest of us must pay for our copies. If you would like a copy, just write, and we will have Fr. David send you a copy for $10.00.

In spite of having accomplished so much - we have most of our material in - we are very frustrated on this project. We very much need a meeting of our general editors and then of all of our editors very soon - and I mean in the next six months (should have already done so). But we are still short of the funds to do so. Can you imagine that money of all things would be our problem??! Yet it is.

Make no mistake, we are very pleased with the work being done by our participants, who are academically, spiritually, and personally qualified. But we are held up because we don't have enough funds to do our work!

As you can see, your prayers and gifts will be of great assistance to us!

In the love of Christ our Lord,

Fr. Jack

P.S. You can use the enclosed coupon to obtain a copy of our booklet, THE ROAD TO PASCHA: SELECTIONS FROM ST. ATHANASIUS. From the magnificent reservoir of the writings of St. Athanasius we have chosen choice passages dealing with our annual progress through Lent to Pascha.

Keep the Light within Shining Outward
for all to Witness and be Joyful!

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