In Blessed Memory of Archdeacon Roman Skvarnavicius (1950 – 2007)

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"Let Us Stand Beautifully"

Eulogy by Father Robert M. Arida, 12 February 2007

The introduction to the Anaphora of the Divine Liturgy calls the clergy and faithful to "stand aright, to stand with fear".  For the most part this translation of the Greek text is accurate. Indeed we are summoned to be attentive and fearful. We are to be aware and cognizant of what we as the local Church are about to do.

As we stand around the relics of our beloved Archdeacon Roman we have the opportunity to acquire another insight and understanding to the words "Stomen kalos..." and how these words are an expression of the life and person of the newly departed. 

I would like to suggest that the deacon, when calling the hierarchs, presbyters and faithful to be attentive and fearful, is also calling the church to "stand beautifully".  "Let us stand beautifully", let us stand the way we were created to be as we offer our gifts to God are words which draw our minds and hearts to Archdeacon Roman.

Yesterday, at the Cathedral, I clumsily stated that the repose of Archdeacon Roman leaves us all deficient.  A beautiful life is no longer among us.  A beautiful life no longer walks with us.  Yet the life that no longer stands with us leaves us a great and sacred legacy.  This legacy is the power and glory of beauty revealed in and through a humble man.  The beauty of Archdeacon Roman -- his humanity – was enjoyed and valued by those who had eyes to see and ears to hear.  His beauty was forged in the ascetical arena where he struggled to become less so Christ could become more.  In this arena he loved Christ by loving and caring for others especially those who are easily forgotten and looked down upon.  His beauty came from the cross of Christ.  Archdeacon Roman's life affirmed and confirmed the truth of the cross which, for those who are being saved, "is the power of God" (1 Cor.1:18).  "Through the cross joy comes into all the world" (Matins Resurrection Sticheron).  And it was the joy, humor and wit of our humble deacon that brought Christ to us and to so many others.

Sadly, however, we must not forget that the beauty of our Archdeacon was not always seen or appreciated.  For some his "way" was not appealing and even perceived as detrimental to the image of the Church in America. Yet around his body are gathered the old and young, rich and poor, scholars and students, professionals and laborers, citizens and immigrants, believers and non-believers.  Our Archdeacon was truly all things to all people.  His ministry sought to leave no one deprived of encountering Christ. His way was that of Christ and the cross.

Our beloved Archdeacon showed us the beauty of a whole life. As a Christian and as a deacon of the Church, the way of Christ and the cross were for Archdeacon Roman inseparably bound to the altar. It was serving the Lord's table that defined his diaconate.  It was serving the Lord's table that moored his life here and now to the kingdom which is to come. Certainly, it would not be an exaggeration to say that our Archdeacon's identity was formed and nurtured by his service to the banquet of immortality.  All of his life, all of his work, rooted in the Eucharistic celebration, was offered to the world. He cared for the mentally handicapped not as a stranger nor as a professional but as friend and brother. He worked with new Russian immigrants as a father who embraced the lonely and discouraged. He offered protection to any one in need. Never leaving the Kingdom or the world, Archdeacon Roman showed us that the two are to be one as God intended from the beginning. Archdeacon Roman's life joined together the things of heaven and the things of earth. Like a beautiful mosaic his life was a portrait of human dignity which ascended the heights of humility and the glory of the cross.     

Dear Archdeacon, we thank you for your life.  We thank you for the rich legacy you have left us.  We thank you for revealing to us through your diakonia the beauty of Christ who has overcome sin and death so that we might have life in abundance.