Six months ago I made an appeal to all my readers to help me continue and expand this Christian Ministry by placing value on it and contributing accordingly. I believe that I've maintained this website long enough where my consistency can be evaluated to the point that a monetary value can be attached to my work, and if I found there to be no such value placed, then I would focus on other things. My request was for a $60 annual donation from each of my regular or semi-regular readers, either as a lump sum donation or as a subscription of at least $5 a month. I based this not only on what I needed to continue and begin to expand, but also on a fair evaluation of what I offer and seek to offer in the future in a bigger and better way. Though I did not meet my annual financial goal, the response was nonetheless amazing and moving. And for this I want to thank with all my heart everyone who did generously and sacrificially respond.
Ultimately everything I offer here on my site is free of charge for all to enjoy and benefit from, and I would like to keep it this way, so the fact that I got the response that I did speaks to the character and appreciation of my readers. Over five months ago I promised, due to the generous response, that I would continue to do what I do over the next six months and take things from there based on the feedback I get over that time. Though my desire was to send everyone a personal "thank you" note right away for their generosity, I decided rather to put my time into the work I promised and save those things for when the six months were accomplished. So everyone who contributed should be hearing from me shortly, and your names have been sent to Mount Athos to be commemorated daily in the Divine Liturgy.
Now that about six months have passed, I wanted to update everyone on the things I've been doing and plan to do in the short term.
One of the things I wanted to show over the passed six months was to give a small glimpse of my unique contribution as a website that is primarily aimed towards Orthodox Christians to help bring them a little deeper into the mysteries of our Faith. After all, this is what the word "Mystagogy" refers to. My aim is not only to bring a deeper knowledge of Orthodox spirituality and life, but a deeper and/or expanded knowledge of all things, or at least offer a new or little known twist on things that I find worth offering that may not be found elsewhere or are at least not easily discovered. One of the ways I do this is by offering quality translations of material that most of my readers would never be exposed to, such as my recent focus on texts from the official newspaper of the Sacred Metropolis of Nafpaktos known as Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, which I believe is the best monthly publication of any Orthodox Metropolis in the world today. Without my few translations so far, I wonder if anyone would ever be exposed to these great contributions in English. Another way is by offering news stories that not only contribute to faith and knowledge, but would likely not even be reported on in English to a wide audience. An example of this is in fact my most popular post of the past six months, when a month ago an icon of the Archangel Michael began to weep in Rhodes. This story was read by many thousands of people all around the world. Such are a few examples of what I call my unique contribution as a website by an Orthodox Christian in the English language.
Yet, only about a third of my time has been going into this website. Another third has been me working behind the scenes preparing for a better and more user friendly website, email correspondences, and preparing ways to better sustain this ministry financially (which will be revealed soon), all of which surprisingly take up a great deal of time when done alone. Among these things has also been addressing various issues, some of which are mentioned below. The final third of my time has been dedicated to the writing and translation of various books I have planned for publication in the near future, that I am not willing to reveal publicly at this time. In fact, as of right now I am almost done with five books, though none are fully completed, and once these are done I hope for a steady stream of annual high quality publications.
As for what I plan on doing in the short term future, let's say the next six months, is to continue what I have been doing, and a little bit more. For example, I have long wanted to go through all my posts and edit them, make them more searchable, categorize them, re-tag them under easier to find subjects, and even get rid of many of them. Personally I would like to delete about 500-1000 posts that are no longer relevant to what I have decided to do with this website. Unless I put what I currently have in some workable order, and we are talking about almost 7,000 posts since 2009, then it will only make it more difficult for me to build a better website. But this will take up a lot of time over the next six months, though I hope to get it done much sooner.
Since my Ministry is now completely publicly supported, I have also decided to make either monthly or bi-monthly progress reports and updates to hold myself accountable to everyone that the work I promise is being done and the steps towards expansion are being made. This will give me an opportunity to address some issues as well that I often encounter, as will be read below.
If you want to share in my vision and keep Mystagogy progressing to bigger and better things, then I will need the financial support to sustain this Ministry at least for another six months. As stated earlier, my annual financial goal has not been reached and there is a danger that my work will cease. I now completely rely on my reader's financial support to keep this Ministry alive and going, and this support is completely based on the value everyone places on it. For those that were unable to six months ago, I am asking to contribute the same amount as I requested then, or whatever is affordable. Over the past six months there have been some donors that have gone above and beyond what I asked for in a very generous way, so anyone able to do so that has already contributed over the past six months would be greatly appreciated.
To make a donation, please visit the link towards the top of this website that says DONATE, where you can make a safe and secure donation through Paypal (no account needed) or through mail-in. For your convenience, I have also provided the information at the end of this post, and it can always be found towards the bottom of this website.
I also wanted to address in this update a few issues of importance not mentioned above. I will be taking a few days off from posting this week to address some of these issues.
1. Due to many personal messages and emails, I have fallen behind in responding to them. Within the next week I will respond to all of them that I have yet to respond to.
2. The Mystagogy Bookstore offerings are just a means to help me generate some income for the support of this Ministry (see link at the top of this website). Unfortunately, there has been issues with the printing of a few of the offerings, and this week I hope to fix all those issues that have prevented orders from going out. In the very near future, many of these offerings will no longer be available, though some will be professionally published and offered through a revamped Bookstore through my Ministry.
3. I have received a bunch of feedback on the advertising that can now be seen on my website. The reason I decided to advertise is because six months ago, when I asked for my readers to help support my Ministry, many wrote to me saying they could not afford to contribute anything, but that if I decided to place advertisements on my site through Google then they would visit those websites and help me generate some income that way. Indeed this has helped, though I wouldn't say it offers substantial financial income. If it did, I would not be seeking contributions. My website is somewhat popular among Orthodox, but in order to make a good profit from advertising I would need many thousands of more visitors daily. There has also been a bit of negative feedback, understandably so, due to the fact that once in a while advertising shows up for something I would not normally endorse. The only control I have over this is to ban them when I see them, but since I can't see them all I ask my readers to email me the link for these sites and I will proceed to ban them so that they do not show up again. Despite this, I do everyone to visit these advertisors and at least check out to see what they have to offer. By doing so, you are contributing to this Ministry.
4. Another reason I decided to start advertising was to help me conduct a study in order to better valuate for other moderated advertising to show up on my site. I have received many requests from parishes, bookstores, iconographers and other ministries to advertise on my site. I am open now to doing this, so please inquire at email@example.com to advertise on my site, and within the next month or so I will begin to evaluate and allow this. I hope in this way to also generate some income for this Ministry, as well as lead my readers to other Orthodox Ministries who seek to offer and receive support and benefit.
5. I no longer allow comments on this website. All who are familiar with social media know by experience that sometimes the people you encounter online show their true face, some would even call it an alter ego or doppelganger, and when you present serious and controversial topics this side of people becomes manifested. The only way I would allow comments in the future is if they contributed positively to what has been posted, or if they generated a respectable conversation. Yet it is extremely rare to get such comments. I would say that 80% of comments are usually negative in nature that contribute nothing to what is posted, and sometimes the length of these comments exceed my entire post. If people have opinions like this, then I would encourage them to have their own website (or hold their silence), because they are wasting my time here. Another reason I stopped is because I started getting a lot of spam, and this made me fear of getting hacked, which would only cause a nightmare. However, I do appreciate questions, and if anyone has any questions please ask by email, for as Basil the Great writes: "For we become more learned and wiser than we were before, merely by asking questions, because we are taught many things which we did not know; and our anxiety to answer them acts as a teacher to us." Because I have no editors I do appreciate corrections, so if anything needs to be corrected, please do not hesitate to email me. Which leads to my next issue.
6. Often I get requests to repost things I have posted. Personally, I would prefer my material not be reposted in its entirety unless I give permition for each individual post, but I would rather other sites copy a portion of my posting then offer a link to the complete article on my website. Unfortunately I have no control to monitor this without being mean and nasty, which I avoid. One of the downsides to this is that I often revisit my posts after I publish them and edit them, and this is not reflected on reposts. More and more I try to avoid reposting other peoples material, and if I do I do so on a rare occasion from the same site and never more than a handful of times. I think this is the most respectable way of doing things.
Though there are other things I would like to address, now that I will begin more regular updates beginning in January, I will save it for another time. I didn't want this post to be longer than necessary.
Having addressed the issues necessary, I again ask my readers, now that we are in the Nativity season and it is a season of giving and philanthropy, to support this Ministry and help keep it going. Please submit your contributions through the following means:
Click on the DONATE button to make a one-time donation (a Paypal account is not needed to make a one-time donation):
Click on the SUBSCRIBE button, after choosing an amount from the dropbox, to make regular monthly donations:
To mail in your donation, please do so to the following address:
PO Box 320284
West Roxbury, MA 02132
With love in the Incarnate Lord,
NOTE: Though this fund-raising campaign is an ongoing process, we are currently seeking donations of at least $60 from all of our readers, if possible, or $5 a month. Of course, whatever amount you can give is helpful.
P.S. In honor of the canonization of Elder Porphyrios this week by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, whose official glorification will take place on Sunday 1 December 2013, the day before his first feast day, I have taken it upon myself to quickly translate his Apolytikion (Dismissal Hymn) in the meantime, since I will not be posting till that time.
Ἀπολυτίκιον. Ἦχος α΄. Τῆς ἐρήμου πολίτης.
Τῆς Εὐβοίας τὸν γόνον,
Πανελλήνων τὸν Γέροντα,
τῆς Θεολογίας τὸν μύστην
καὶ Χριστοῦ φίλον γνήσιον,
Πορφύριον τιμήσωμεν, πιστοί,
τὸν πλήρη χαρισμάτων ἐκ παιδός.
Δαιμονῶντας γὰρ λυτροῦται,
καὶ ἀσθενεῖς ἰᾶται πίστει κράζοντας·
δόξα τῷ δεδωκότι σοι ἰσχύν,
δόξα τῷ σὲ ἁγιάσαντι,
δόξα τῷ ἐνεργοῦντι διὰ σοῦ πᾶσιν ἰάματα.
Apolytikion. Tone 1. The citizen of the desert.
The offspring of Evia,
the Elder of All Greeks,
the initiated in Theology,
and the genuine friend of Christ,
Porphyrios, O faithful, let us honor,
who was filled with all the gifts of grace from childhood.
The demon possessed are redeemed,
and the sick are healed who cry out with faith:
Glory to Him who gave you might,
Glory to Him who sanctified you,
Glory to Him who operates through you healings for all.