Saturday, December 31, 2011

Can this be true?


If you want to do something good, do it; and if you cannot do it, then resolve to do it, and you will have achieved the resolution even if you do not fulfil the action itself. Thus a habit, whether good or bad, can gradually and spontaneously be overcome. If this were not the case, no criminals would ever be saved, whereas in fact not only have they been saved, but many have become conspicuous for their excellence. Think what a great gulf separates the criminal from the saint; yet resolution finally overcame habit.

- Saint Peter of Damascus

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas


I haven't had the time to write about Christmas Vigil, or the Nativity Liturgy, or Saint Stephen's Day. There is so much I wanted to write about while it was happening for the very small purpose of not forgetting it.



I also could write for a long time about Saint Cyril's Catechetical Lectures which I am still reading, or the book Path to Sanity which I am also reading. 

But I can't. I have biscuits in the oven for the kids, and the day is already sweeping me away. At night I fall asleep with the kids, so I haven't had time to sneak back to the keyboard. The readings on Saint Stephen's feast day were beautiful. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Yesterday's Reading

Kassi's Nutcracker performances were this weekend, so we were unable to attend Liturgy in its entirety. We left right after Communion in order to bring her to the stage at her call time.  I can't go without mentioning yesterday's reading from Hebrews. It was deeply moving and as always, I felt as though I had never heard it before, which can't be true but remains.

9By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;
10for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
17By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called,"
19concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
20By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
21By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.
22By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.
23By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command.
32And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets:
33who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.
36Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.
37They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented-
38of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
39And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,
40God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

Hebrews 11:9-10,17-23,32-40

Friday, December 16, 2011

Jesse Tree 2011, nearing the Nativity Feast!




Painting seems to happen in bursts. We joke that next year this will be so easy with all of the ornaments done.









With time constraints pressing us, some of them are very simple.



What a fun project. It has really marked the days of the fast.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Beginning to Read The Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem

There is no place to begin with this, so I will start where I am:

"The present is the season of confession: confess what thou hast done in word or in deed, by night or by day; confess in an acceptable time, and in the day of salvation[9] receive the heavenly treasure. Devote thy time to the Exorcisms: be assiduous at the Catechisings, and remember the things that shall be spoken, for they are spoken not for thine ears only, but that by faith thou mayest seal them up in the memory. Blot out from thy mind all earthly[1] care: for thou art running for thy soul. Thou art utterly forsaking the things of the world: little are the things which thou art forsaking, great what the Lord is giving. Forsake things present, and put thy trust in things to come. Hast thou run so many circles of the years busied in vain about the world, and hast thou not forty days to be free (for prayer[2]), for thine own soul's sake? "

This is referring to the Great Lent before our Baptism. He must mean private confession, in prayer by oneself? 

At Vigil last Saturday, the evening before the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers, Father Stephan ended the Vigil with a call to Confession. Karl wasn't there, I was present with three of our children and my Godmother that night. It was a very moving call as Father described the great forgiveness of God for those who repent. For the first time I heard Father say the opening exhortation of confession- usually he is over in the corner and quiet. 


I wish I could write in a convincing way about how much I desire to be received into the Church and be called a Believer. This feeling overwhelmed me early on after becoming a Catechumen and has not diminished in any way. But as I have tried to explain before, another sensation has grown alongside it, and it is one of fear. Now I do not feel ready, it is like something is missing. These Lectures of St. Cyril are exciting in a way nothing else has been for awhile. Direct communication to me, the Catechumen.





Sunday, December 11, 2011

to make myself understood

I have noticed, silently, a new trend in my behaviour. It is like this: I don't write about or talk about things because I either cant think of how to explain them or I think no one will understand. I hope to challenge this trend by forcing myself to write or at least talk, personally, about those things one by one.

Beginning now.  I have read and been told that no one is ever ready to be Baptised and recieve Communion. God's grace is sufficient to make us worthy. Why doesn't this comfort me at all or make me feel ready? I keep thinking, well, 'they' don't know the particular kind of unready I feel. Everything feels so unanswered, like a question on the tip of the tongue.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Saint Nicholas Day at our Saint Nicholas Church


You were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith; an image of meekness and a teacher of abstinence. Your humility exalted you. Your poverty enriched you. O holy bishop Nicholas, pray to Christ our God that our souls may be saved.
The icon of Saint Nicholas at our parish is so beautiful. When we were preparing for the feast day on the Sunday before, we had a chance to see it uncovered. It was covered in glass for the Liturgy.



We arrived in plenty of time for Liturgy. The children even got to meet Bishop Benjamin as he walked into the parish hall. They were quite shy- so was I- I have no idea how to behave around a Bishop. I can hardly navigate my interactions with Father! Rome was happy to show Bishop his new turtles.

I had Rome as my charge so I did not see much of the Liturgy. We were present for the vesting of the Bishop. When he put on his crown Rome said "There! Now he is beautiful!"The photos below are not in order.









I left with Rome where Archdeacon Kyrill said "As many as are Catechumens, depart."

The feast after was beautiful and delicious. Rome was curious about "all the Fathers" and "how could there be so many Fathers?"


Holy Bishop Saint Nicholas: part 2


You were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith; an image of meekness and a teacher of abstinence. Your humility exalted you. Your poverty enriched you. O holy bishop Nicholas, pray to Christ our God that our souls may be saved.

We did not make it to the Festal Vigil on Monday night. I had an appointment with my doctor and as my best friend said, I do not get to cancel doctor's appointments with the shape I am in. So we sat at home and wondered what was happening now at the Vigil. The evening service is the beginning of the morning service and to miss it is to be late to Liturgy. But this was out of our hands.

In the morning we had a visit from Saint Nicholas at home. As I explained to the kids, we honoured Saint Nicholas' memory by putting a gift and candy in each of their shoes. They were thrilled to start this tradition. Toly received spinning tops, Rome little toy turtles, Tristan stencils and a pencil and Kassi, a bell for her bicycle. Chocolate coins and oranges were everywhere.


Then we set out for church and our parish feast day.

Holy Bishop Saint Nicholas: part 1

You were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith; an image of meekness and a teacher of abstinence. Your humility exalted you. Your poverty enriched you. O holy bishop Nicholas, pray to Christ our God that our souls may be saved.

Our first Saint Nicholas day as Orthodox Christians.

On the Sunday before we stayed behind to help decorate the church. The kids and some of the mothers decorated inside the hall where we have the feast. We even put on Christmas music. My husband and another father friend put up lights outside, climbing ladders and all. Inside the church people were putting up green boughs over the doors and behind the cross. Father Stephan and the choir practised the hymns for our parish feast day and a visit from Right Rev. Benjamin, our Bishop.

The nourishing environment of the church can hardly be described. In my whole life I have never felt so invited to be a part of something.

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