Hello Again

1It has been some time since I have posted on my blog.  I have been trying to respond faithfully to the changes life has brought upon me.  In doing to I have had to prioritize and make decisions about what is really important.  So I have taken an absence to my blog.  I am currently working on some content, and should be posting on a more regularly basis.  Until then please enjoy this reflection from St. Clement of Alexandria

The perfect person does not only try to avoid evil.


Nor does he do good for fear of punishment, still less in order to qualify for the hope of a promised reward.

The perfect person does good through love.

His actions are not motivated by desire for personal benefit, so he does not have personal advantage as his aim. 

But as soon as he has realized the beauty of doing good, he does it with all his energies and in all that he does.

He is not interested in fame, or a good reputation, or a human or divine reward.

The rule of life for a perfect person is to be in the image and likeness of God.

St. Clement of Alexandria

Time for Nativity

8orthodox0108Nativity is just around the corner.  I cannot believe it is almost here.   It seems like it has been forever in coming.  At the same time the last month has just flown by.  In the busyness of everything I have been trying to take time to reflect on just what is happening.

For some time now I have really been meditating on the incarnation.  A deep reality has set in that honestly words fail.  Words can only describe this great mystery.  The iconography of the Theotokos has been a big part of this unfolding.  The reality of God in flesh is so beautiful .  Not only did God embrace humanity it was elevated.  We are of one flesh.  one spirit, and through faith and the sacraments one nature.

The Nativity of our Lord takes up real time.  It is a real event that really happened.  The birth of Jesus to his and our blessed mother Mary.  This was a timeless event.  Not just a map pin on the timeline of history.  What happened in the natural is equally timely and yet timeless.  The reality of God coming to humanity has always been.  His mercy and grace fill all time.  We can see this in sacred scripture.

The Nativity of our Lord takes up future time.  I am reminded of the words from the Eucharistic cannon “Christ has died Christ has risen Christ will come again”.  Yes Christ will come again.  Like the 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom.  Nativity is a reminder that Christ will come again.  It is in the Nativity we wait, hope, and prepare.  So I will say it again Christ will come again!

The Nativity of our Lord takes up present time.  We know not time when Jesus returns.  We heard these words from his mouth.  St. Paul also believed Christ would return during his lifetime.  Most of the Early saints did.  Throughout history people have thought the return of Christ was imminent.  Rightfully we all need to live as if Christ could return at any time.  The reality is that we will most likely be reunited with Christ through our natural death.

We are called to pray, fast, and give alms.  We are to live like every moment counts.  We are to live like there is no tomorrow.  The truth is we do not know what tomorrow will bring.  We are to rest and take comfort in the promises left to us by our Lord.  Have faith dear ones.  Keep up the good fight of faith.  Enjoy the Nativity liturgies.  Mostly try to be present in the moment.  Be it at church or at home.

 

Have a blessed Nativity!

Christ is risen!

524610_456375864448772_412198614_nLast Sunday we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord, Pascha!
Saturday I had to work a 12 hour shift.  I left around 6:45 full of excitement.  For that night I was to experience Easter as an Eastern Christian. 

I had a basic understanding of what was to transpire.  As you know understanding and knowing are two separate things.  That night was a night of firsts.  It was my first time experiencing Pascha.  This was the first Pascha for our church.  It was also the fist time any church in our area celebrated in this old Tradition. 

I thought about comparing Easter practices East and West.  Lucky for you I have just changed my mind on this.  I can do that because this is my blog.  Also this blog is a journal of my thoughts.  Very little editing is done to it.  It is my hope that it would be as pure as possible what I am truly thinking the at the time of writing. 

The most profound aspect to what transpired that night was not realised until a conversation at a cookout Sunday afternoon.  Father and I were sharing thoughts and talking about the events of holy week.  We talked about our procession around the town square and court house. (Quick side note.  Our parish is a mission parish.  At the moment we are in a store front.)

The town is the county seat and has one of those old monstrous castle looking court houses.  We made our way around the court house.  Singing hymns, carrying candles, icons, and other sacred items one would carry in a procession. 

The significance of this procession is multi faceted.  For the sake of time I am going to focus on Orthodox Christianity in the frontier.  What I had the privilege in taking part of was something that has never been done here before.  Prayers and hymns were chanted for the first time.  Processions were made on fresh soil.  The true faith was displayed for all to see. The fullness of the Gospel is being represented in this small Western town. 

Many do not know who we are.  They have never heard of Orthodox Christianity.  Like the flame that burns bright on Pascha so do we in our little town.  It is our mission and responsibility to this community to share the fullness of the Gospel. 

Let us move forward with a spirit of love, and a heart of prayer.

Holy Week

photo_verybig_127402Holy week is finally here! I am so excited I just cannot contain it! My first Holy week at an Orthodox Church.  Tuesday night (Wednesday morning) was my first experience attending Bridegroom Matins.  I had no idea what to expect.  Actually that isn’t true.  I am very familiar with Western Christianity, and the richness within her.  With Ash Wednesday kicking off Lent.  To powerful Holy Week services. 

Somehow I had it in my mind that things were not so with the Eastern Orthodox.  Sure Pascha is wonderful.  That’s just it.  You always hear about Pascha, but rarely hear about the buildup before Pascha. 

Needless to say Tuesday night I was not disappointed.  The liturgy was beautiful.  The “theme” if you will was thought provoking.  The comparison was with the harlot who washed the feet of Jesus and Judas the betrayer. 

An all around unworthiness swept over me.  It was not something I would consider negative.  I would say it was a realization of the destructive nature of sin.  Not just sin generally, but my own personal sin. Like the harlot we take responsibility for our sin.  We acknowledge our place, and cry out for mercy!

Likewise we see this same story in the publican and the publican and the pharisee. Sometimes I liken myself to the woman at the feet of Jesus.  Crying and offering sacrifice (myrrh).  Other times I am self righteous and like Judas I sell Jesus out for a multitude of sins. 

Today is good friday, and as I type we are ever slowly marching towards 3 o’clock.  I was unable to make any other services this week.  Wednesdays Bridegroom Matins still echo through me.  I anxiously wait for Pascha.  Still I do not want to rush through this time.  As we enter into the darkness of the death of our Christ.

Palm Sunday and Other Exciting News

Theotokos_by_Deacon_Ioasaf_AthonitesBusy, Busy, BUSY!!!!!!

Life has been going at the speed of light lately.  My in-laws are in town, and staying with my family.  We took a mini vacation to San Antonio during their Fiesta.

Other news I had coffee with the priest of the Parish I have been attending.  We had a smashing good time.  I have expressed my families interest in becoming catechumens.  I am not sure as to the date but in the near future we will be officially catechumens!

I am looking forward to Palm Sunday.  It will be another first in the Orthodox Church.  I will post on my experience next week.  Also to come a post on the mission train in San Antonio.

Bye for now!

4th Sunday of Great Lent

SONY DSCSo yesterday was the 4th Sunday of Great Lent.  I was very pleased to be there. Part of that was I am always pleased to be in the Lords house.  Also I have been down with pneumonia for about a week.  I feel that I am of the fast track to health now.

Sunday was marked for St. John Climacus. Or often called St. John of the Ladder.  Father shared with us about the saints life and witness.  As usual the readings tied into this ongoing theme in our common liturgical life.  What Father shared was a homily that for me was very personal.

I have briefly shared on this blog my struggles with feeling worthy of salvation.  I tend to focus on my sins and shortcomings.  Thoughts of heaven and hell come to me daily.  Sunday was no different.  Reflecting on the Gospel readings and homily has given me some new perspective.

I am not a sum of my sins.  My sins will not and cannot define me.  I am a created in the image of God. Lord, I believe; help my unbelief! Some things in life cannot be changed by will.  They change by prayer and fasting.

It is time for me to take my Lenten journey more serious.  This year I have been a bit tepid with my practice.  Now is the time for me to allow Jesus to come in and do the work only he can do.  I see this more clearly now.  I see the path, and in this moment understand what I need to do.

Glory to Jesus Christ!

I’m back! Did you miss me?

St NektariosSo I have been away from my blog for about a month.  I have started a new job.  Not with a new company but in a new group within the company I work for.  I love my new job, but it has kept me very busy.

Much has also happened in the church hunt.  We went to vespers at a mission church a few weeks back. Then back for Divine Liturgy.  This is the first parish I can say I feel at home.  My children have expressed the same feelings.  This Parish is small, but the care given to the liturgy.  Basically everything they set to do is done in excellence.

Like the saying goes all dogs have fleas.  No parish is perfect   I think we are going to stick around at this one for a while.  I sort of feel like a broken record when visiting a new church.  The first few visits and you never want to leave.  The one difference in this church then the previous churches is a strong sense of community.  After liturgy when we eat it is like a family around the table.  This is what we have been looking for in a parish.  It is all about long term.  I am hopeful in a few weeks the feelings will be the same.