14 September 2011 • Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross • By Deborah (Malacky) Belonick
Today, the seminary community congratulates our Dean, Archpriest John Behr , who is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. Although Fr. John is well known for his scholarly background and abilities in teaching and writing, perhaps less well known to the public are his churchly and clerical roots: the "Russian side" of his family includes as Orthodox priests his great-grandfather, father, and brother; while the "German side" of his family includes a Lutheran pastor, his grandfather.
Father John's faith informs his scholarly work and vice versa, so that in his life and work, Fr. John epitomizes the thought of St. John Chrysostom, the famed 4th-century preacher who spoke of the pastoral power of theology and words. Paraphrasing St. John in a recent sermon, Fr. John said, "A disciplined mind and a mind raised to the Word of God: It is this that gives theology its pastoral power."
Reflecting upon his decade as a priest, Fr. John said, "Every year, I am ever more glad that I was given the gift to be ordained on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-given Cross. I am increasingly coming to appreciate the apostle's words that he would know nothing apart from Christ and him crucified.
"If we try to approach our own problems or issues—personal or institutional, societal or ecclesial—in any other way," he concluded, "we will not find resolution and peace; but with the Cross before us, we are given a taste of life, a life not of this world, but a foretaste of the Kingdom."