It has been cold here. The whole city is covered under a thick blanket of ice. For many the ice and cold is a nightmare. For me I see it as therapy. Much needed at that. I love this weather. I find the cold calming. I long for the brutal cold wind of the North. I long to hear it whip around my house. The rattle of the windows. The sting on my face as I work outside. The cold and ice is gone now. Still in my heart it remains
The Nativity of our Lord is just around the corner. I am looking forward to it, and dreading it at the same time. Physically I am not ready. My house is not prepared. Emotionally I am all over the place. Spiritually I am anxious. I guess this is a good way to be.
I once was the one with answers. I was the one people went to for direction. A pillar in the church. Now I am none of these things. Just a shadow. A phantom of my past. I hope Nativity will bring a new beginning. The start of something beautiful. At the same time I am ok if this is as good as it gets.
I am no longer the hopeless optimist. I am not a pessimist either. Whatever is will be. I am not looking for some sort of false reality. Or living on hope of something better. I am trying to live in the present. To accept it and grow in it.
Lord have mercy on me. I came into this new place in life very arrogant. I didn’t see it at the time. Who am I? What exactly did I expect? I don’t know if I have any answer. What I do know is that I am so done. I am over worrying about what family might think of me. I am over preconceived ideas of who I am suppose to be. I just want to live. Truly live.
Ok so I have not really spent much time with this blog. It seems that I thought I knew what I wanted to do with this blog, but never really found a way to do what it was I was trying to do. I know that might not make much sense, but it does to me.
Basically I hoped to use this blog as a way of working out thoughts, and struggles. That really never happened. I did share some of my thought and experiences. I am sure that will continue. I guess part of me never really wanted to invest to much time in what I was trying to accomplish on this blog. Knowing that at sometime I would be received into the church, and then ultimately change the format. Or maybe I was nervous to express thoughts and opinions out to the vast faceless internet.
So I am back, and I have BIG plans for what I am going to do. I will be posting thought provoking meditations I hear. I will be posting interviews with various people in ministry I am acquainted with. Who knows yet what else. I am still working that out.
Holy 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.
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.
So 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.
So 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.
So last Sunday was visit two at St. Seraphim in Dallas. As the previous Sunday I really enjoyed the Liturgy. It really has a more formal feel then the Byzantine Catholic Church I have been attending. For the most part I am indifferent. Like I said in my last post. It all is to new to form an opinion.
After Liturgy a man walked up to my family and introduced himself as Deacon Gregory. I am not sure if he goes by Deacon, Father, or Deacon Father . So for the meantime I will address him as Deacon Gregory since that is what he introduced himself as.
Deacon Gregory welcomed us to the parish. He asked a few questions, and invited us to the coffee hour. He introduced us to several people. Including his family, and another family who one of them will be my sons Sunday school teacher, I was also introduced to Subdeacon Vladimir. He is a very nice fellow and the one who did the icon work at the Cathedral. I look forward to getting to know him more.
My youngest was really full of energy. She wanted to be picked up. Then she wanted down. She cried a few times, but for the most part was quiet. By 3/4 of the service I finally just let her wander from a chair to the place I was standing. It was about 3 feet. She seemed to do fine. I figured if the older ladies were walking around, and lighting candles. This little bit my daughter was doing was of no distraction. Overall people have been kind. I get no fowl looks from people when she cries. Just warm smiles, and the offering of a chair.
I must say that this Sunday was an answer to prayer. I have asked many to keep us in prayer, and it seems that God’s favor was with us. It looks as if my prayers are being answered. I am not one who is given to emotion when it comes to the sacred, but I can honestly say I felt the presence of God strongly on Sunday. It was about twenty or thirty minutes from the end of Liturgy. It was so heavy it was like being under a blanket. It was a very beautiful and peaceful experience.
I have no idea what will come this next Sunday. I had plans on being at the Byzantine Catholic parish for a special guest an Abbot from up North. A man I have heard talk on Catholic Answers. I have decided to miss this, and attend again at St. Seraphim. I am looking forward to the pilgrimage to the Cathedral once again.