Reader Poll - Still on hiatus, however
Due to some potential circumstances, I may move up chrismation from a rather hazy "sometime next year, maybe Theophany or Pascha" to Pentecost of this year. I've sort of put off the Saint's name decision a bit, but if it IS going to be happening on Pentecost this year, then I've got to sort that out.
Understanding that it is a personal decision, I would like your input nevertheless. You need not remind me that it is my decision in consult with my spiritual father, priest and bishop (thank you very much!). Just your unvarnished opinions.
Here are the candidates, with a few pros and cons, in no particular order:
1. Ephrem or Ephraim - in honor of St. Ephrem of Syria
I need not spill a lot of ink about the pros of this Saint - one of the first icons I acquired other than that of Christ was this Saint's icon. I also have found Bishop Theophan's selections of his writings in A Spiritual Psalter to be a most rewarding devotional again and again for development of compunction and realistic outlook - the pure air of faith. Unfortunately (for me) I gave away my copy to another catechumen and have yet to spring for the $28 to replace it.
On a practical note, Ephrem as a Saints name is close enough to 'Eric' to not cause too much jarring upon hearing it and people could get used to it quickly. On the con sides of practicality are the questions of whether to make it 'official' with the governing folks.
2. Hilarion, Ilarion, Hilarius, Hilary, Hilaire - in honor of St. Hilary of Poitiers.
I've used this as a nom-du-plume in the Latin form for some time now, so I'm sure many of you have gotten used to it. However, as I've joked, I'm not sure what the parishioners would think as I introduce myself as 'Hilarius' to the newcomers. The Greek form of Hilarion/Ilarion is perhaps better, but Hilary was no Greek. The English form 'Hilary' is now relegated to a woman's name in popular usage. All of that said, I am convinced that I wouldn't have found Orthodoxy if I hadn't gone to Poitiers and visited his old see, and viewed the very baptismal chapel where the Saint would have immersed those to be illumined. Moreover, he is a Western Saint, and thus gives us the constant reminder that, despite the schism, Orthodoxy is part of our heritage in the West as well.
3. Procopius - in honor of the German Catholic Procopius who became an Orthodox and the first fool-for-Christ in Russia or in honor of the Holy Great Martyr Procopius, the Roman Soldier who was martyred in 303 in Jerusalem, both celebrated July 8.
Procopius was born in Jerusalem of a father who was a Christian and a mother who was a pagan. At first, his name was Neanias. Following the death of his father, the mother raised her son completely in the spirit of Roman idolatry. When Neanias matured, Emperor Diocletian saw him and, at once, took a liking to him and brought him to his palace for military service. When this nefarious emperor began to persecute Christians, he ordered Neanias to go to Alexandria with a garrison of soldiers and there to exterminate the Christians. But, on the road, something happened to Neanias similar to that which happened to Saul [Paul]. In the third hour of the night there was a strong earthquake and, at that moment, the Lord appeared to him and a voice was heard: "Neanias, where are you going and against whom are you rising up?" In great fear, Neanias asked: "Who are You Lord? I am unable to recognize You." At that moment, a glowing cross as if of crystal appeared in the air and from the cross there came a voice saying: "I am Jesus, the crucified Son of God." And further, the Lord said to him: "By this sign that you saw, conquer your enemies and My peace will be with you." That experience completely turned him around and changed the life of Commander Neanias. He issued an order to make the same kind of cross which he saw and instead of going against the Christians he, with his soldiers, turned against the Agarians who were attacking Jerusalem. He entered Jerusalem as a victor and declared to his mother that he is a Christian. Being brought before the court, Neanias removed his commander's belt and sword and tossed them before the judge thereby showing that he is only a soldier of Christ the King. After great tortures he was cast into prison where the Lord Christ, again, appeared to him, baptized him and gave him the name Procopius. One day twelve women appeared before his prison window and said to him: "We too are the servants of Christ." Accused of this they were thrown into the same prison where St. Procopius taught them the Faith of Christ and particularly about how they will receive the martyr's wreath. For that reason in the marriage ritual of the betrothed, St. Procopius is mentioned along with the God-crowned Emperor Constantine and Empress Helena. After this, those twelve women were brutally tortured. Witnessing their suffering and bravery, the mother of Procopius also believed in Christ and all thirteen were slain. When St. Procopius was led to the scaffold, he raised his hands toward the east and prayed to God for all the poor and misfortunate, orphans and widows and especially for the Holy Church that it may grow and spread and that Orthodoxy shine to the end of time. And to Procopius there was a reply from heaven that his prayers were heard after which he joyfully laid his head under the sword and went to his Lord in eternal joy. St. Procopius honorably suffered in Caesarea in Palestine and was crowned with the glorious wreath of immortality on July 8, 303 A.D.
Saint Procopius was a German Catholic. He was running a merchant business in Novgorod when he became enraptured by the beauty of the Orthodox services. He converted into Orthodoxy, gave his wealth and possessions to the indigent and became a monk at the Saint Varlaam-of-Khutyn monastery outside Novgorod. After some time shunning from fame he left for Ustiug where Procopius chose to accomplish the ordeal of God’s fool pretending to be a fool in order to attain utmost humbleness and humility. Thus he became the first fool-for-Christ-sake in Russia. He had to go through many afflictions accomplishing this hard feat. Carrying three wooden staffs he walked barefoot and poorly dressed all year round. He slept on church porches or simply on the ground. He would take alms from the compassionate simple people, but he would never accept any charity from the rich, whom he considered obtained their possessions by unrighteous ways; even though this would cause him to go hungry for several days.
So - pros and cons - the Saint's day is my birthday; Procopius Fool-for-Christ was a German Catholic; my ancestors were from probably Stadlohn in Westphalia and although we think of them as Dutch, they were probably Low German speakers who became connected to the Dutch through the colonialization of North America and the aftermath of the 30 Years War. Great Martyr Procopius was a soldier who was willing to turn in his belt rather than persecute Christians. Downsides are practical - Procopius is a rather uncommon name to borrow and comes with all the risks of being taken for Uberfromm (a la Ochlophobist's articles on that subject) and simply being taken as 'weird' by the family and friends, perhaps detrimentally. I am (alas) no Fool-for-Christ as yet and perhaps too weak of character to take as patron a Great Martyr such as Procopius the soldier.
4. John - in honor of St. John of Damascus; or possibly St. John the Hutdweller.
At one time I had considered John the Hutdweller, for story of his unrecognized sojourn outside his parents house as a hermit which was only revealed after his death when a gold-bound bible that his parents gave him was discovered on him. I have since leaned for the more well known St. John of Damascus for his greater influence in my Orthodox journey - his Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith I refer to frequently for my own correction, his influence on the hymnology of the Church is unquestioned, and he spent his life in discourse with Arab culture, which I have found to be my lot for the past 2+ decades. Although raised in privilege, he did not lack for humility in the end. As a practical matter, my middle name is John and, if you have visited my side blog you will know that John or Johannes is a very common name among my ancestors in this country over several generations.
As you can see, I'm leaning to this selection . . . however that may be just being overly conservative - and there are a lot of 'Johns' in the world. And I shall have to retire the nom-du-plume, I'm afraid (sorry folks).