St. Alexis Toth and St. John the Baptist

Yesterday was May 25th, a day dedicated to the third finding of St. John the Baptist’s head!  Yeah, the guy lost his head and then the Church kept losing it!  Well, really, the Church kept hiding it, from Muslim raids and then from iconoclasts (those who opposed icons and relics–see posts 17-19 in the Church History Series 1 category).

Sometimes, trying to live one’s faith can be a very difficult thing.  Yet, difficulties arrive not just from outside persecution.  The difficulties can also simply be part of life.  I had mentioned St. Alexis Toth a couple posts back.  So, who was he?  Well, St. Alexis had a falling out with Archbishop John Ireland of Minneapolis at the end of the 19th century and due to that falling out, he began converting thousands of Eastern Catholic immigrants back to the Orthodox faith of their ancestors.  Because of his efforts, the Russian Mission grew significantly, to the benefit of our own Orthodox parishes here in North Dakota.  Why?  Because the Russian Mission eventually became what is known as the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and both Minot and Fargo have parishes that belong to the OCA.  Out of that difficult (the falling out) came a good thing.

What both stories have in common is that God can bring good out of the bad.  St. John the Baptist’s death was not “good.”  It really wasn’t.  It’s not good when anyone dies, even if sometimes in a fallen world there may be no other option (such as when a policeman has to do the good deed of shooting a criminal–it would have been better had the criminal not been a criminal and not forced such a situation of necessity).  Yet, from the death of St. John came the ministry of Christ.  It flourished, for John was the forerunner to the Christ, Jesus.

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