A Whole New World

Alex Mackoul

“Alex, lets skip Dr. Al Rossi’s session and go to the library so we can go on the computers.” It was Orthodox Education Day, 2005, and I was about 15 years old, and trying to decide whether or not to follow my friend to the library instead of going to Dr. Al’s session for teenagers. I ended up going to the library with my friend, who insisted that I take this time to create my Facebook profile in order to stay connected to the world.

The joke is that my formation at St. Vladimir’s began at age 15, but the truth is that 10 years later (2015), it was St. Vladimir’s that connected me to the world…
          Not the world that I had come from where sports, music, and money
          dominated the culture and determined whether or not you were successful
          Not the world where independence, popularity, and style 
          determined whether or not you were living a good life.

St. Vladimir’s connected me to the reality of this world…
          A world where “…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”(Jn. 1:14)     
          A world where Christ himself walked, preached, and taught, leaving footprints for us to follow
          A world where saints and holy men and women throughout the centuries have kept those footprints fresh
          A world where we as humanity follow those footprints, which lead to the kingdom
          A world where we await the Bridegroom in every moment and offer the moment to Him
          A world where the Bridegroom often redirects us, placing us back in His footprints, which lead to the wedding banquet.

Every now and then the world can seem scary to the seminarian that has given up financial security, a life near family, and a secure job. My third year of seminary is coming to a close soon and the reality of ordained ministry is starting to hit home… 
          A reality that can seem daunting and overwhelming
          A reality that can seem filled with trials, tribulations, and crisis
          A reality that is filled with unknowns
          A reality that is filled with crosses.

Yet, St. Vladimir’s has not left us alone in this reality, but rather has taught us that a reality filled with crosses is a reality that is also fulfilled by the cross… 
          A reality that is filled by the love of Christ and his victory over death
          A reality that is filled with the presence of the kingdom here and now
          A reality that is shaped from liturgy to liturgy
          A reality where everyday is lived out as liturgy as we offer up all our work to God
          A reality where we are surrounded by a great a cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1) to turn to, for intercession and motivation
          A reality where the light of Christ illumines all and transfigures how we see the world.

Alex Mackoul is a third year seminarian in the Master of Divinity Program. He is a member of St. George’s Orthodox Cathedral in Worcester, MA and currently serves as an assistant to the Right Reverend Bishop Nicholas of the Antiochian Archdiocese. This past summer Alex married Amanda, a young woman he met during his time as a counselor at the Antiochian Village. They both adore Dr. Al Rossi and attend as many of his sessions as they can.