Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
his soj
ourn in Northern Ireland'

An exceptional teaching opportunity

Jon Kennedy  

JONAL ENTRY 1289 | May 18 2013

"Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal."

— from John 6,
from today's Orthodox
lectionary readings

Diary: On Monday I took part in an exceptional opportunity to teach and minister to a large class of students who in America would be called eighth graders, though in Ireland their school is called a "college" which indicates, I gather, that they are being prepared for university studies later in life. This class came from a Catholic school over the border in the Republic of Ireland, an hour and a half bus ride south of here, to learn about the role of icons in worship and in everyday life in Orthodoxy.

I joined two other members of our parish's laity, Reader Maximos Murray and Johanna McBride, to introduce the religious education students to icons. My relatively short part of that was introducing the word icon/eikon (it's original form in Greek) and the mentions of the word and the use of icons in Scripture. Reader Maximos, our parish reader and choir leader, gave a discourse on the theology of icons, and Mrs. McBride told the stories of how icons have played major roles in her family's lives. She has written two books, one about St. John the Forerunner and Baptist, and the other about miraculous events in the lives of her family involving icons and saints, especially John the Forerunner and Saint John Maximovitch of San Francisco (who happens to be my patronymic or "name saint").

After the presentations in the front of the church, the students spent time examining the church's large collection of icons in preparation to write papers for their religious ed course. A few of them are seen in the photo above and the whole group is seen in the video below.

Click the > on the video above to play it. After the video launches, you can double-click the screen to enlarge it to full-screen. If your browser cannot open the video in Windows Media format, you can try it on YouTube, here.

In the video, which runs under six minutes, Reader Maximos and Mrs. McBride answer students' questions, then the students fan out throughout the church to have closer looks at icons and ask questions about them. I was tremendously impressed at how well behaved this group of boys were, compared with my memories of my own public school classes at that age, and think the video is worth watching just to see that.

Just after this event, another Catholic boys school contacted our priest to ask whether a class of their students can visit St. Ignatius Church. I hope that will come about.

Scripture: Jesus is speaking about how easy it is to be impressed by material things while forgetting the spiritual issues of life, putting temporal concerns above eternal benefits. Though He made an indelible impression on thousands of people by multiplying a few loaves of bread and fishes into enough food to satisfy the appetites of a multitude, most of them were more interested in that adornment of their temporal lives than the fact that His whole ministry was focused on saving their immortal souls. In which of those categories of inquirer or disciple would you put yourself?

§     §     §

Please support my mission to Northern Ireland in your prayers, especially for my second talk this Sunday on C.S. Lewis and his impact on the world through his Christian writing.

You can read my overview of this undertaking here. My residence/postal address is 227 Crumlin Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland BT14 7DY, UK. NEW Mobile: 44 7455 980890.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy


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I was at the airport, checking in at the gate when an airport employee asked, "Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?" To which I replied, "If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?" He smiled knowingly and nodded, "That's why we ask."


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— Peter Freeman

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