Thursday, April 26, 2012

Even More Pictures of Baptism, First Communion on Holy Saturday 2012

I am grateful that so many were taking pictures of this most important day of our lives.

You can also click through to see the photos.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Holy Martyr Anatoly, pray to God for us!

Anatoly said "my love of this cake will just keep going and going!"
Toly holds his Baptismal candle in front of the icon of his saint.

Two illustrious officials, Sts Anatolius and Protoleon, who were secretly Christians, openly confessed Christ after seeing St George tortured, then miraculously healed of his wounds. Immediately, and without a trial, they were beheaded with the sword by order of the emperor.


Holy martyr Anatoly was a warrior. He was present at the tortures of St. George the Victorious. He saw the legs of St. George being enchained into the stocks and a great stone being put on his chest, and saw him beaten with ox sinews, broken on the wheel, thrown into quicklime, forced to run in the boots with sharp nails inside. The holy martyr underwent these patiently and did not deny his faith in Christ. Seeing the faith and the courage of St. George, warrior Anatoly came to believe in Christ and announced it openly. He was beheaded at once.

It is also Great Martyr George's day, of course.

You were bound for good deeds, O martyr of Christ: George;
by faith you conquered the torturer’s godlessness.
You were offered as a sacrifice pleasing to God;
thus you received the crown of victory.
Through your intercessions, forgiveness of sins is granted to all.

My experience of the Liturgy

Holy Saturday morning. We enter the church as
catechumens for the last time.

I have to at least try to write this out. It has been my experience that writing can't do this sort of experience justice. I can't let myself forget this, so if even a single phrase I write can recall the essence of what I have to say, that is enough. You might think I would start from the beginning and tell the story starting with our final act as catechumens. I am working on that. This is an out-take.

One of the plethora of my trivial concerns before Baptism was this: I worried about how we would 'make it' through the entire Divine Liturgy. We had never done it before. From our first Liturgy, I left at the dismissal of the catechumens and at least Rome left with me. One time I stayed in a little too long, unable to remove Rome without disrupting the Great Entrance. I felt so out of place there, kneeling low to hold Rome, that I never let it happen again. I did not belong there in the Liturgy of the Faithful.

So, back to my trivial concern. How could we 'survive' the full length of the Liturgy? After leaving each time I always took Rome into the hall where we could hear the Liturgy and draw or read. I felt there was nothing I could do but wait and see, but it did not keep me from mulling over this worry occasionally as we approached Holy Saturday.

In every way, something unexpected happened. This alone is a great reminder that nothing is ever as we plan or expect. Worrying is a futile attempt at control.

Holy Saturday was perfect. The most perfect day. For reasons I will have to detail in the start-to-finish version, I had let go of all expectations that morning and was truly ready for Baptism. So, we were anointed, Baptised, and Chrismated. We put on crosses. We processed into the church holding Father's stole. Around the tomb three times. We held candles. The Liturgy continued. The service was 4 hours long (including the Baptisms) but it felt like just a moment. We went up to the cup.

When we ate the dried fruit and wine after the service, I was not tired. I felt brighter than ever.

Pascha was much the same: the energy in that service had us all wide awake and smiling, from 11:30pm to 5am. I have never seen anything so beautiful and may never again, unless it is more Pascha. Our second time approaching the chalice, amazing.

The real surprise–I see I have delayed here with clunky words– was Bright Monday, Bright Wednesday, and Thomas Sunday. I rationalised the speed of the services on Holy Saturday and Pascha- those were truly special days for me and it seemed no wonder they flew by. But Bright Monday was a hard day, just me and 4 children at church. Instead of being gruelling, it flew by like a single moment. We had barely arrived when it was time to walk up those stairs. Even at a new church, Holy Trinity on Bright Wednesday, it was like this. And yesterday it finally occurred to me, this is something. It is not the excitement of Pascha. Something has happened here, because instead of a service twice as long, I experience something more fleeting than before.

Even more amazing, of the time I experience as passing, most of it is the span of time from stepping to the cup and stepping down. My children go before me. While I am making sure they are in line properly and kissing the chalice everything is 'normal'. Then I step up. My mind knows that it only takes as long as Father takes to say,"Newly Illumined servant of God, Tabitha, partakes of the precious and holy Body and Blood of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins and unto life everlasting." The experience cannot be understood by the mind. Time stands still. I feel like I am teetering on a moment. There is a sense of longing and suddenness, at any moment this seeming spell will be broken. It is like when something falls off a counter. The time it takes to reach out and catch it is stretched. When you do catch the thing time begins again and you are left with a jolt as you rejoin the stream of time.

When I step down my hands shake, time begins again. I am left with a wondering thought- How long was I up there? Even, subtly, Where am I?

I told Father. It was at his suggestion that I write this down and not forget.

This is who I am. Nothing else.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Consummatum est!

Father Stephan chose these words to say good-bye to me after a very meaningful eighth day post-Baptism. This week, and my new state as a communicant, are the result of much work. It is all finished.

Now new work begins.

Our shoes sitting in line as we are Baptised.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Time stands still...

Here are the clothes we wore in the font drying on Father Stephan's line.

This week has been like their drying time. We are nearly there. On Sunday, we will remove our white and return to the world. God willing, after today and tomorrow I will have been in church each of the 8 days of this process. After the eighth day, we remove our outward symbols and become the symbols ourselves: Orthodox Christians.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Our second time. Tikhon is explaining what to do. Until Holy Saturday
I did not see what happened after the dismissal of catechumens. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Our whole family stands with Father Stephan on Holy Saturday after the Baptisms. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

I am Baptised

Along with my children, I am Baptised, Chrismated and A communicant Orthodox Christian. I will write more and add pictures when Bright week is over. Thank you for your prayers. Everything is wonderful.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Yesterday I was crucified with Christ;
Today I am glorified with Him.
Yesterday I died with Him,
Today I am made alive with Him.
Yesterday I was buried with Him,
Today I am raised with Him.
Let us become like Christ,
Since Christ became like us.
Let us become divine for His sake,
Since for us He became man.
He assumed the worse,
That He might give us the better.
He became poor, that by His poverty
We might become rich.
He accepted the form of a servant,
That we might win back our freedom,
He came down that we might be lifted up.
He was tempted, that through Him
We might conquer.
He was dishonored, that He might glorify us.
He died, that He might save us.
He ascended, that He might draw to Himself us,
Who lie prostrate, having fallen into sin.
Let us give all, offer all, to Him who gave Himself;
A ransom and reconciliation for us.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Holy Week, Batman

Forgive my off-colour title. This has been a very trying week. The stomach bug got worse. Kassiopeia had to go to the Emergency room to be re-hydrated. She is home as of yesterday afternoon and is doing much better. While I was with her at the hospital, Karl came down with the bug. He was home with the 3 boys and so ill. Poor man. I came home, feeling terrible, and cleaned the house. There was laundry. Kassi is feeling even better today and Karl is off to work- Thank God he is quick to recover! The 3 boys have not been ill, yet. Two of them are complaining of stomach pains this morning. I pray it is nothing.

Tomorrow is Great and Holy Friday, the day we should be saying the Creed and beginning our process of entering the church. Then Great and Holy Saturday. I do not want to miss this.

 I confessed. It was wonderful. I am not forgiven yet. When I am Baptised, I will be forgiven.

 I want to think of a way to bring some portion of us to the service tonight. It is frightening to think of the boys coming down with this while at Church, but it seems to me they would have been sick before Karl, if they were going to get it. Karl must have contracted this while caring for sick Kassi. The boys, who have much less vigilant hygiene, have not been sick and perhaps will not be. I myself didn't become quite as ill as the others, maybe they have had some lower grade version of it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Another Week

It has been almost 2 weeks since I wrote here last. We recovered from the flu eventually, but have had another round of illness in our house in the past few days. This time it is a stomach bug. I was sick but and doing so much better, truly a 24 hour bug for me. It is Holy Week, the week we have waited all year for. Yesterday was Palm Sunday. Yesterday marked a year since we first walked into the church. We became catechumens on Pentecost. This year, we will be Baptised and Chrismated on Holy Saturday in the late morning. Tonight I go to confess, making up for last week which I missed. This is my lifetime confession. Having waited a year, learning and longing, I hardly know what to do with myself. I do not want illness to keep us from the services.
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