Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The months since I became a catechumen have been very intense months. Even before the Church, this past year, year and a half has been more than just intense.. it has been the hardest time of my life.

There was a time when I used to think that nothing could ever happen to me that would be more difficult than a specific span of years in my childhood that I remember with horror. I remember believing that, even a few years ago. Now I know that is not true, because I am recovering from something greater than those old memories.

It is not what I might expect. I would think that being a catechumen and in the process of learning about God would have a grounding effect. And it has surely given us strength to survive our summer of trials. There is that. The fact remains, though, that I have never felt so unstable. The work of approaching the Church is extremely upsetting to my soul, mind, and heart.

I told Tikhon about this and he did not relate. He is at ease with it all. And now that I write this out I realise that it doesn't sound the same as it feels. It sounds as if I am not "at ease" with the teachings of the Church, or not ready to accept it. That is not the case at all, no no no.

It is more the opposite. I am at ease with the teachings. I do accept the Church. It is overwhelming to be myself there. To think of who I am in my entirety and hold that thought while standing in the presence of God.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hunting for Mushrooms

Beautiful forest. We were up in the Mount Tamalpais Watershed on Thanksgiving Day. Father taught us to find honey mushrooms, and wow did we ever find them!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nativity Fast

Yesterday being the first day of Advent, and the beginning of the fast of the Nativity, I am learning how to cook for a family in a Lenten way. Last night our supper was pasta, with very vegetable marinara sauce and salad. I also made French bread from Julia Child's The Way To Cook. I have used this recipe in the past but not recently.

On a recommendation, I bought a silicon mat for kneading bread upon. It is perfect! I had no idea this item was missing from my kitchen. No oil was needed for forming the loaves and no mess.
I also baked a cake for Tristan's name day today. I have a trusty vegan cake recipe which I used, and I made up a frosting from coconut oil, cocoa and coconut milk.

Today being the second day, I have soaked a mixture of beans and barley for soup.

It is difficult to be the person in charge of the food production and the person without access to a car. I need to learn to make adequate shopping lists for Tikhon.

I want to briefly mention that this is one of my favourite cook books. I tend to enjoy  cook books with foundational, basic recipes. This one is on a shelf next to only two others: Betty Crocker and Nourishing Traditions.

Apostle and Evangelist Matthew

Today is Tristan's name day. His middle name is Matthew.

Holy Saint Matthew, Pray for us. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Reading Matthew

I am reading Matthew. Constantly, I wish I could ask a question about what I have read. I wonder if I should keep notes to ask questions or if I should put the idea of understanding it out of my mind.

New Feelings

Yesterday was such a beautiful day. My role as caretaker of our littlest was not easier than usual, but our weekends have been like this for a long time now and we are all used to the routine. Vigil the night before, homeward for sleep, and back in the morning to celebrate the Divine Liturgy.

I finally spoke to Father about my new feelings. I've been trying to write about this here but have not been able to put it into words.

 I am overwhelmed by feelings of fear and awe.

There was a time which anyone can read about in my journal where I felt more than ready. I felt urgency. I had read all of these books about Baptism and the Holy Mysteries and wondered why on Earth I was waiting. I still do, intellectually. I will not abandon my original position that I am in grave need of Baptism and reception into the Church. But as if in layers, something has overcome my feelings of readiness and I cannot shake it off.

I am not sure how to describe the slow and complex way things have changed. Once, I remained in the church for the Holy Anaphora. It was by accident, because Rome had gone in and I had to follow him to scoop him up, but then there I was kneeling down on the rug with Rome in the middle of something I could not disrupt by leaving. It might seem like nothing, but it was not nothing. It was the first time I felt this sense of fear I am trying to describe. I did not belong there.

I am not full of confidence that Baptism will make me worthy to receive these Mysteries. How can I go ahead with this thing of such importance, not feeling ready? Of course, I have some time. I have until Holy Saturday. It doesn't feel like enough. How could it ever be enough? Is there anything that can be done in any amount of time for the sorry state of my personhood?

All things are possible through Christ. Still, when the prayers are said in the Liturgy they are full of hope that God will not condemn us.

Grace shining forth from your lips like a beacon has enlightened the universe.
It has shown to the world the riches of poverty;
it has revealed to us the heights of humility.
Teaching us by your words, O Father John Chrysostom,
intercede before the Word, Christ our God, to save our souls!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Article on Economy and Conversion

I came across this article today, which doesn't really apply to me since I am not Baptised and will be Baptised before Christmation, but I am curious about it.


Saint Martin the Merciful, Bishop of Tours

Today is Romneya's name day. 

†Pray unto God for us, O Holy Saint Martin, well-pleasing to God, for we turn to you, who are a speedy helper and intercessor for our souls.†

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jesse Tree Project 2011

We are making ornaments for a Jesse Tree project. I thought this would be a good catechism project for our whole family, so with Father's blessing we are beginning it . There are 52 images- 40 leading up to Christmas and 12 for Christmas. We are using imagery from Festal Celebrations Yahoo group. Because the kids are doing most of the work, we are simplifying the images as we go.

We are using acrylic paints.

We have wooden discs that we bought from a reuse store. First we use gesso to make a white background.

We have only just begun and need to keep ahead of the days. These symbols, which are partially painted, represent Creation, Adam & Eve in the garden, The Fall, and Noah. There are bible readings to go with each. Every day we will hang one and do the reading.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hymn of Kassiane

Kassi received a gift last night at Vigil- an icon of her patron, Saint Kassiane. She was so surprised and happy. Thank you!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fasting, thoughts

I am sure that whatever stage of my life I am in, wherever, it must be complicated. Everything is so complex, and everything includes learning to fast as a catechumen.

 I understand the fast, in what small way I am able. What I am having a hard time with is how we (ourselves, as a family) should fast. I am surrounded, thank God, by many helpful people who have advice and experiences to share. We have the most wonderful and true friends, as well as a parish full of helpful fellows. They can be roughly divided into 3 groups.

 One group will not comment on how I (personally) should fast. This group includes my priest, and I love him for it. In the depths of my soul. On a more practical level– I am the keeper of the home and have to do the cooking– it's not as useful as I might like.

 Another set of friends encourages me to be easy on myself. They remind me that no one keeps all the fasting rules. They admit they break them– who doesn't?–so it is okay to be less than perfect. Substitute.   Use non-olive oils. Et cetera.

 The third group has few members and most of them are books, not people. This group of advisors urges me to aim high and keep the fast as perfectly as I can.

What should I do? I am sure that some of my advisors would think it fine for us to start off by simply removing meat from our diets according to the fasting days. (or substitute everything with soy versions) We can become more correct later. In effect, I would be making my own rule of fasting and (presumably) following it. This doesn't sit well with me, but I can't say why. I can't imagine keeping the fast to the point of waiting until a certain hour to eat. How would this fit in with Tikhon's work, etc? What about our children, what should we expect from the eldest? How can we do this in a way which can work, even if we don't ultimately hold to it perfectly?

I browse the internet for Lenten recipes to learn. The vast majority of public Orthodox fasting recipes out there break the rules. I really don't know what to make of it. I admit it is probably a fault of mine, but I don't see the point of doing anything if we aren't going to at least try to do it correctly. Try, perhaps fail, but try again.

Still, there remains a temptation to listen to that voice that says, "Don't take it too seriously".

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