Memory Eternal to Fr. Matthew Baker
During this evening's snow storm, he passed away in a tragic car accident while travelling home from Vespers at his parish. His children were with him, but were thankfully not injured.
Please understand something. Fr. Matthew lived to serve. He cared deeply for *others* and always gave freely of his time and expertise, without any financial reward. Unlike many intellectuals, he cared most deeply about *people*: helping them, mentoring them, encouraging them in faith and life.
During his life, he gave freely. Now, we who are left to cherish his memory must also give freely, in testimony to his unique gifts and in support of his wife and six children.
100% of the donations received in this campaign will go directly to his wife. She has 6 young children to care for, and has lost the family's only income.
Please give generously, and keep Fr. Matthew and his family in your prayers.
Presvytera Katherine and the kids are being cared for and doing about as well as can be expected, although it's simply not easy to adjust to life without husband and father.
It's been more than seven months since Fr. Matthew's untimely repose. In that time, a steady stream of honors and tributes have taken place. Fordham University awarded Fr. Matthew a posthumous Ph.D. in Theology. An international scholarly conference on philosophy and theology dedicated itself to his memory. Various publications are beginning to appear.
Yet Fr. Matthew's interests and activities extended beyond theological and scholarly matters. He was also a lover of poetry and the arts. So it is fitting that the next major event to be dedicated to his memory will be a concert of new sacred music composed by one of his friends, Benedict Sheehan.
“Fr. Matthew Baker was one of those rare, integrative, thinkers, who saw deep connections between seemingly disparate things,” Sheehan said. “My father was also such a thinker, and perhaps this is why from the first, I felt an intuitive bond with Fr. Matthew. It is for this reason, as well as the fact that I somehow felt the pain of his recent death, so sudden and tragic, perhaps even more sharply than the loss of my own beloved father five years ago, that I am dedicating the world premiere performance of Triduum Paschale—a piece that explores both the agony and hope of loss, and attempts to connect a number of disparate realities along the way—to Fr. Matthew’s memory.”
Sheehan’s Triduum Paschalae, a three-movement work for chorus and soloists that blends motifs from Eastern and Western Christianity, is a musical journey through Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. Although he never had the chance to hear the work performed, Fr. Matthew applauded Sheehan’s artistic vision in the composition and particularly loved the creative use of the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, one of Fr. Matthew’s favorite poets.
Sheehan’s liner notes explaining the composition reveal part of the reason for Fr. Matthew’s enthusiasm:
The first movement, The Crucifixion, is based on a translation of a 12th century Middle English lyric (famously set by Samuel Barber in his Hermit Songs) that acts as a kind of Stabat Mater—or in Orthodox terms, a stavrotheotokion—a heartbreaking glimpse into the Virgin Mary’s grief at the crucifixion of her Son. The second movement, Nondum, uses a poem by the great Jesuit poet and forefather of modernist poetry, Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889), interspersed with exclamations in Hebrew of Christ’s words from the Cross, Eli, eli, lama sabachthani? (My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?), coupled paradoxically with the joyful (and in the West, paschal) exclamation, Alleluia. The movement speaks of a world where God is seemingly and unaccountably absent, dead, and yet it conceals a profound hope that God will finally and fully reveal Himself in the end: “Yet to behold Thee as Thou art / I’ll wait (Alleluia) till morn eternal breaks.” The music is based on a Byzantine scale, and it features aleatoric solo passages in a microtonal Byzantine style composed in collaboration with, and first performed by, John Michael Boyer. The final movement, Easter, also based on a poem by Hopkins, is a profusion of paschal joy and exuberance. Anyone who has ever attended an Orthodox Easter vigil will immediately recognize the sort of reckless and overflowing spirit with which this movement—composed in a style faintly reminiscent of Early American psalm singing, and in mixed meter and mixed modes—is imbued.
Among those giving solo performances at the concert will be Portland-based baritone John Michael Boyer, known for his work with Cappella Romana, and soprano Laura Soto-Bayomi of the Chatauqua Opera Festival and the Bard College Conservatory of Music.
The event will be held at the Church of St. John Nepomucene, 411 East 66th Street, New York, NY, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door, but may be ordered in advance online at www.MonasteryChamberChoir.com. Proceeds benefit St. Tikhon's Seminary.
Please continue to keep Fr. Matthew and his family in your prayers, and consider joining many of his friends for an evening of beautiful sacred music dedicated to his memory.
I am in awe when I think of how many people (over seven thousand) have given to my family in our greatest need. I am well aware of how generous you all have been, and how some of you even gave out of your own need, like the widow in the parable. "Thank you" just doesn't seem to be enough. I think I want to say "Evcharisto" instead (the Greek word for thanksgiving and where we get the word "Eucharist"). Though the sound of it to Greek speakers is probably as ordinary to them as "thank you" is to English speakers... every time I am handed coffee or some such thing and get the chance to say "evcharisto," I remember that it is Christ that is at the heart of every gift or every act of kindness. I remember that "every good and perfect gift is from above" (James 1:17) as we say in our liturgy. And so in gratitude, from all of us; Katherine, Isaac, Elias, George, Eleftheria, Cyril, and Matthew Jr: "Evcharisto!"
This Sunday, many churches held memorial services for Fr. Matthew. The 40 day anniversary of his repose came on Holy Thursday.
Thank you again for supporting his widow and young children, and for helping this campaign reach its goal.
If you would like to provide ongoing support or make additional donations, please visit: https://fathermatthewbaker.com/donations/
You can also write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about other giving options, including:
1. Gift Cards for the Baker Family, especially to places like Target, Walmart, and grocery stores (Big Y, Aldi or Stop and Shop).
2. Underwriting the cost for childcare, giving Presvytera an occasional break and the ability to run errands.
Please keep the family in your prayers, and check https://fathermatthewbaker.com/ for news, updates, and eventually writings by Fr. Matthew.
Christ is risen!
Yesterday morning, early, I was working at the computer in my husband's office when I heard little feet running toward me. My four year old ran in the room and looked around and then looked at me, happy and expectant: "Did Daddy rise from the dead?" and I responded as I have several mornings since the accident, "No, not today, but he will. It will seem to take a long time to us, but he will." Completely undaunted, he smiles and saunters out. I suddenly realize that each morning he has been looking for the resurrection of his father. The story of Christ's resurrection is so real to him, he sees it as something that could happen any day and probably in the morning. I suppose we could smile at his immaturity, but I wonder if that is not the better attitude to have. Maybe this is what Christ meant when he said that we must, "become like a little child."
Thank you once again to the thousands of people from around the country, and the world, who have responded in charity to the tragic death of Fr. Matthew, who leaves behind his wife and six young children. He, and they, are dear to our hearts.
She sends this message:
Thanks for your prayers! I felt them today. We found his cassock with his wallet in the pocket (which was also Florovsky's wallet) and all the family icons. We also stopped by the accident site and found a shoe and his brown stocking hat (which had been his Father's). It was hard but it was good to see how destroyed the van was... to see how close the children were to being hurt and yet they weren't. It is a miracle.
She also wrote, of the first picture below:
This is baby Matthew's car seat. He was completely unhurt. I share with you a miracle.
Dear Presvytera, Let me paraphrase the words of St Nikolai Velimirovic: "Let us remember that Jesus Christ was a carpenter and carpenters cut down their trees, not when they are old and useless, but when they are at their best, and the Carpenter has need of them." These words were helpful to my wife and I when we lost two of our children and I pray they will be helpful to you in this difficult time. Moreover, let me encourage you as a fellow Orthodox. Remember that we count this life as nothing more than a bowl of lentils and the next as unimaginably valuable. Have no doubt that your husband, who gave all he had in this life to Christ, will not shine like the Sun in the next! He traded what he knew was worthless for the Pearl of greatest price. There can be no foolishness--on your part or his--for that. May God bless you and keep you and shine upon you and your children in all ways and in all things, great and inscrutable, glorious and awesome! In Christ,
I don't know you, nor you me. I found this via a friend raising money for her brother-in-law's sudden death. Fr. Matthew's story touched me. I am a Christian and I believe in reaching out to help others. I know that God will supply strength to the family. As I read all of the updates I see the beautiful words of Fr. Matthew's wife. Such a strong and wise young woman. The family will be in my prayers and I will donate to help the family. Keep hugging those children. They were saved to carry on their fathers work.
Fr. Matt concludes his second last sermon published 6 days before his passing into eternal life, with words that are prophetic: "This Lent, may we make our own these words of St. Ignatius of Antioch.... 'It is better for me to die in Christ Jesus than to be king over the ends of the earth… The pains of birth are upon me. Allow me, my brethren; hinder me not from living, do not wish me to be stillborn… Allow me to imitate the passion of my God …when I shall have arrived there, I shall become a human being (Epist. ad Rom., 6).'" http://myocn.net/sixth-day-creation-fashioning-man/
May his memory be eternal! God gives a special miraculous grace to some people to prepare their soul for death in the last days before it comes. Fr. Matt was one of these people. In his last sermon, which he never delivered, Fr. Matt concluded by writing, "Let us, then, love one another, and seeking that “city which is to come” (Heb 13:14), receive him – with the prayer of the Spirit and the Bride upon our hearts: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20)." If you read his sermon, (especially the last four paragraphs), you will realize that in writing it, Fr. Matt was making his last preparations for eternal life. May we all have as blessed an end. He died working for the church. He died taking care of his family. He died like a good soldier in God’s army; with his boots on. But he also wrote something for his wife and children; those closest to him, who will miss him and cry because he is gone. ‘“What shall pass from history into eternity?” asked Fr Georges Florovsky, of blessed memory. “The human person with all its relations, such as friendship and love.”’ Presbytera Katherine and children, you still have your husband and your daddy’s friendship, and his love. He wrote that you still have it. He is preparing the way for you and he loves you right now, even though you can’t see him. You can read his sermon here. http://myocn.net/city-cain-city-jesus/ In the Church’s Eucharist, we “taste and see” (Ps. 34:8) already – as in an icon, veiled under signs – that glorious future the Lord has prepared for his creation. Let us, then, love one another, and seeking that “city which is to come” (Heb 13:14), receive him – with the prayer of the Spirit and the Bride upon our hearts: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20). These are beautiful last words and I will remember them. Please keep giving. $750,000 is not a lot to raise 6 children on.
Suzanne: Recipients of a gift do not pay a gift tax. You can read the details on the IRS website. Gifts from family and friends are not considered income, so there’s no income tax for the Bakers on the money you or others give. That’s true no matter how high this fundraiser goes. However, if you choose to give a larger gift above $14k, it may become subject to gift tax. When it is, the person giving the gift – not the recipient – is responsible for paying the tax. Please contact us if you want to make a gift above that level, as there are ways to do so without having to pay a tax yourself. Thank you so much to everyone who has given so generously to Fr Matthew's widow and six young children. Your gift goes directly to them, and will help them tremendously.
Please give generously. Presvytera Katie and her six surviving children are going to need so much financial help! Emmanuel Lemelson (whom I don't know, but God bless him for saying it) is absolutely right that the family will need something like 2.5 million -- or more -- to feed and educate the children. Think how brilliant Fr. Matthew was...and know now that his wife is his intellectual equal in every way. Can you imagine their kids not going to college? PLEASE do everything you can to help this family. Presvytera Katie is the thriftiest person I know, other than one other person, and I can guarantee you that she will use the money wisely and carefully. Give generously. Don't let your one hand know what the other is doing: Give from the heart, and let your heart be generous.
Fr. Mathew Baker, I can't believe he's gone. He was and is the smartest person I have ever met. But not only was he a genius, he was a kind and caring person. We only met in person once but we kept in touch right up until a few days ago. Whenever I had a question about something relating to the church he was my go to person. But we also shared a love a literature and shared book recommendations. I still haven't read all the articles he sent me in the past year. I would send him a single line, he would respond with a page, I would ask him to go with me 1 mile, he would go with me 2, that's the kind of person he was ...and is. His influence on me will continue as the years go by. In his short life he became a major figure in the world of Orthodox Theology and his writings were discussed by people such as Metropolitan John Zizioulas. He was a worthy inheritor 1of the "Florovsky mantle," and I truly believe his influence on this world will continue into the future. His lovely wife and children were always a joy to be around and my heart goes out to them. All the Bakers are truly wonderful people and Prestbytera Kathrine's sacrifice, love and support is an integral part of Fr. Mathew's story. You have our love and support Presbytera Kathrine!
hello my name is roy sims,and I wanted to say im sorry for your loss,and also wanted to ask for your help as well,i am homeless and I have been for three years,all I need is a place to call home,to rest,wash,and get back on my feet and get a job,i have prayed every day that god would hear my prayer,there are times I don't get to sleep im lucky through the grace of god that I have had something to eat and the people that have come into my life I need your help,would you please help me ,my p.o.box 804 Lexington park md,20653 thank you and god bless you and your family
my sympathies to you prevytera katherine & your children my prayers is with you. Im very sorry for your loss,god bless you& the children.
Dearest Presbytera Katherine -- I was brought to tears today (Sunday of the Cross), listening to the Gospel reading and thinking about your family's example of living out these verses, and your husband's Victory by the Power of the Cross! (Mark 8:34-38; 9:1) May God bless and keep you and your children. -Dn. Tom and Wendy Braun
Dear Presvytera, May the memory of your faithful husband be eternal. We are praying for your continued strength and peace, and for continued grace upon your beautiful children. My husband remembers your husband from Seminary. He remembers your husband as such a kind man and very easy to talk to. May the memories of his beautiful life be a comfort to you. May God hold you up standing beside you always. + Presvytera Tiffany & Father Jason Dickey
I had not yet met Matthew, but my son, John Whalen, this year a third year Fordham student had. Matthew helped my son in so many different ways. For most, helping him cope with the changes of being at college and away from home for the first time. John spoke of Matthew often and I could tell right away that Matthew was an inspiration to John. John truly thought of Matthew as a friend and someone who would be in his life for many years to come. God Bless, Father Matthew.
Home School Legal Defense has a Widow's Fund that helps provide curricula to widows who are homeschooling. This may help Presvytera in the future. Our prayers are with her and her family.
Bless your family and others who know of you.
Be careful everyone with the people commenting here saying they donated something "not much" and mentioning their own funding. It is sad they are trying to scam people on this site. I saw Jean Pierre and others on several gofundme campaigns soliciting.
C'mon, folks. Keep giving. God can use our Protestant credit cards, too! This is a man of God who is leaving a young family. Let the Lord shine through you!