Monday, August 31, 2009
"The Holy Church glorifies him as "the angel, the apostle, the martyr, the prophet, the beacon, the friend of Christ, the seal of the prophets, the mediator of the old and new grace, and in birth most honorable, and the voice of the Word of light."(S.V Bulgakov, Handbook for Church Servers, 2nd. ed., (Kharkov, 1900). Translated by Archpriest Eugene D. Tarris.)
My name has special significance, meaning "little Peter," (having come from a family who received the faith from the Roman Catholic Church, through the apostle Peter). "The Voice" through marriage, and now "of the Angels" (messenger).
The name of John in Hebrew, means, the grace of the Lord. He fulfilled his life as mediator of the old and new grace, by one crying in the wilderness, the messenger, the forerunner, John the baptist of Christ.
What does being a friend to Christ mean to you? How do you serve Him? We can all identify with John the Baptist when we follow Christ and do God's will.
Have you ever thought about what your name means? Its significance? We can all imitate Saint John the forerunner, by becoming "a friend of Christ" and that would make you an "Angel," using today's terms. We can become the beacons needed in a very lost world, by imitating the saints, and like John, crying out in the wilderness of our hearts, singing "Prepare Ye The Way of the Lord."
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Meditation of His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae at the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist 2009
The day of August 29 is a day of strict fast in the Orthodox calendar. This is to commemorate a grave moment in the history of humankind, the death of the last and greatest prophet of the Old Testament. Go here to read this fantastic post. You will find it on Fr. Peter's page, http://www.frpeterpreble.com/.
A court thinks that a 10-year-should be exposed to other religious views. A home school girl described as well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising and intellectually at, or superior to, grade level has been told by a New Hampshire court official to attend a government school because she was too "vigorous" in defense of her Christian faith?
A Christian girl vigorous in her faith, is told by a New Hampshire court official to attend a "government run school," a. suggesting that she has not had the opportunity to "seriously" learn and debate other's point of view?" What happened to separation of church and state? Are you kidding, and how could her religion be any business of the public school? She has not had the opportunity to to consider? Consider what? A 10-year-old needs to consider religion? Isn't that what parents are for?
The article maintains that this is a step too far for any court, which I totally agree with, challenging the recommendation which was approved by Judge Lucinda V. Sadler. And, is also currently being challenged by attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund.
- Is the problem really that at 10, she is defending her faith, or that she has faith?
- It sounds unnatural to me that at ten, anyone would want to even discuss other's religion. At ten, we never had a point of view about religion, we just did what we were told to do. This is just crazy! It is an American tradition to Home School your child and teach your child your religious view. (Just like the Amish).
Saturday, August 29, 2009
What was the mission of John but to announce, and reveal God in the flesh. Beginning with the Mother of God, when he leaped at the sound of Mary's voice while he was in the womb of his mother, Elizabeth, knowing the presence of his Lord. John's birth was a miracle and fulfilled the prophecy of the return of Elijah (Matt. 11:14), the one who was to precede the Messiah as "the voice of one crying the the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord' " (Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23).Taken from the Orthodox Study Bible.
God made John worthy to bapize Him in the Jordan, and the Trinity was made manifest. What a wonderful moment on earth where the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are revealed.
John, the forerunner, was beheaded. John proclaimed God who appeared in the flesh, to those in hell, Jesus, resurrected from the dead, loosed the bonds of those held captive. It is Jesus who takes away the sin of the world, and grants us great mercy.
Who is greater than John the Baptist...shown in truth to be the most honorable of the prophets, we celebrate with hymns of praise, along with the memory of the righteous?
John was not concerned with earthly cares, and lived an ascetic rule of poverty and fasting. (Never forget that you are God's creation, made in His image and likeness according to His plan and purpose). And like John, we keep our eyes not on the body, but our desire upon Christ.
(Matthew 11:6) "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist: but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."
(Taken from the Orthodox Study Bible: Matthew 11:11) "In terms of the OT Law, John is the greatest prophet. But the New Covenant inaugurated by Christ is of such incomparable value that everyone who shares in it is, as it were, greater than John. For by grace through faith under the New Covenant we become children of God and partakers of the Holy Spirit."
Friday, August 28, 2009
There were CCD classes, or what other's call Sunday School. Confession, and the stations of the cross were attended and you recited the rosary as a family. You didn't go to dances or to the movies during lent, and you gave up something during lent. You didn't eat in front of someone else without offering them food. Ladies and children first, was the rule. You'd hold the door open for someone else. There were chores to do, and everyone shared in the work. A thing called "taking turns." I could go on and on. What was available to watch on television was "clean." There were no insensitive issues confronting you and advertisers wouldn't dare to expose what they boldly project to the public today, when children are watching. Immediately, when you did something wrong, you were corrected. You knew what your expectations were, like making your bed each day as you got up, changing your clothes after school and hanging them up, doing your homework, washing your hands, brushing your teeth, combing your hair, helping those who couldn't, as well as the less fortunate and, above all praying to a God that does exist and who does love us!
Home is different now. Life is different now. Do children even pray now, never mind going to church? If your parents don't go, why would you? Education and sports and all sort of activities gain precedence over "The Lord's Day."
It is cold out there, and I'm not talking about the weather. We do not recognize what sin is anymore, unless our parents did and we learned about what sins is from them and church.
It was our parents responsibility to teach us, not the school or state.
It is predicted that before the second coming of Christ, and He is coming back, there would be a great apostasy. It would happen not only by the anti-Christ as foretold, but within the walls of our own homes. There would be found only pockets of the once faithful majority. And, eventually, all but a tiny minority would remain, "underground," with the flame of faith flickering out.
The way it is now, is in fact, is turned around almost completely, where bad is said to be good. Where has the politeness and respect for authority and life, gone. Violence, not peace and perversion of every kind, is rampant. The change didn't happen overnight, and who was watching? God was, and is and always shall be. Here are some words of wisdom.
"Be ashamed when you sin, don't be ashamed when you repent (To repent means to have a change of heart and mind. It is not simply a feeling of sorrow, but a psycho/spiritual growth away from evil/death and a turning to God/life). Sin is the wound, repentance is the medicine. Sin is followed by shame; repentance is followed by boldness (Boldness means to beg God for undeserved mercy). Satan has overturned this order and given boldness to sin and shame to repentance."
Saint John Chrysostom
Only through the Grace of God can you be guided on the path of righteousness, which begins on your knees. The generations are leading to a crash course of destruction, unless they encounter "Christ" who is the truth, the way, and the life, and then, follow Him.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
"What'll I do when you
Are far away
And I'm so blue,
What'll I do?
What'll I do when
I Am wondering who
Is kissing you,
What'll I do?
What'll I do with just
To tell my troubles to?
When I'm alone
With only dreams of you
That won't come true,
What'll I do?"
Speaking of Irving Berlin, " Composer George Gershwin called him "the greatest songwriter that has ever lived", and composer Jerome Kern concluded that "Irving Berlin has no place in American music - he is American music." (Wikipedia)
Irving actually taught himself how to play piano. His work lives on in the minds of many. He was a gifted composer and lyricist.
The above song was so simply written, yet says it all! It can be called a "classic" a piece of work that applies to any generation. And, probably everyone, as at some point, we lose someone we love and it hurts. O the heartbreak, What'll we do ?
Tonight we remember a Senator who moved on, one who lived in hope of seeing "his dream come true,"health care for the needy. Ted Kennedy has forged a close relationship with people in this area, and actually came out to our small town, where many politicians wouldn't, sending representatives in their place. He helped bring the DOD to our area, trying to promote jobs here. Ted, was concerned about children and their education, and worked with our previous President, Bush to promote "No child left behind." Judgment will come to all. He did his best, good or bad. What I choose to remember is that you could count on him for being there when you needed him. Rest In Peace, Ted Kennedy. Thanks for your hard work and for caring.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
My dad used to say, "when you laugh the world laughs with you, when you cry you cry alone."
Another saying, "Let your smile be your umbrella." There may be some truth to that. You sure would not want to greet anyone with a frown, or if your seeking friendship a smile should proceed your words. Your smile says a lot about you.
That leads me to ask if you have ever noticed what ICONS all have in common? No smile. Yet, I can picture a smile on the face of Theotokos as she views her Son, Jesus. A smile on the face of the angel, who pointing to the empty tomb and cloth, revealed the resurrected Christ. And the women as they excitedly go forth with the news.
Why do the people in the Icons lack a smile? (I know, I am an inquisitive type of person, and even now have many such questions about things which others would perceive as silly). Icons reveal everything else but the joy.
Turning to scriptures, (The Orthodox Study Bible) I read in (Phil4:4)"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!"
To rejoice is to be filled with joy, laughter, and rapture. Rejoicing in Him therefore, should bring a smile to your face.
Still, why do Icons not depict the joy the bible assures us is "present", in the faces of those represented in that form? We see the "light" but not the smile. I think there is a very deep message here. I often look upon them and wonder, how were they feeling? They show no tears either, and we know there were many. Maybe feelings get in the way of truth. Love is after all a decision. It is a serious decision to believe and follow Christ.
"In faith and love draw near". Any thoughts?
Monday, August 24, 2009
This subject has really sparked an interest in me, and I will need to do more research on it. Meanwhile, the post gives some really sound advise, from several sources.
Most of all, remember, it is the priest in the Orthodox Church who will consume what's remaining in the chalice.
Hope to hear your comments, as we have had many readers on this subject. Your input is invaluable and welcomed.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
People kiss Icons, the Priest's hand, and place their hands in the bread bowl. Would these be considered safe habits, upholding these traditions during the pandemic flu season?
Here are several comments that I received from the Taking Communion Blog from the OrthodoXcircle sight.
Sandblasted said, "In the Western Rite parish which I attend, the worshiper has the choice to hold their hands up as a cup, in which the priest places the wafer/Body of Christ. The Deacon, following behind the priest, takes the wafer, dips it in the wine/Blood, and then places it upon the tongue. In this way if one is sufficiently concerned about cold, flu, or other illnesses, the person after them is protected. I have received Communion both ways, a little under the weather. Most often though I just go with my faith."
RyanPaul said, "St. John of San Francisco once was giving communion to a woman with rabies. Not being in her right mind, she spit it back out on the floor. As every priest is obligated to do, he picked up the gifts and consumed them. When asked about it, he replied that it was the body and blood of Christ and that nothing would happen. Oh that God would give us the faith of holy ones such as St. John! St. John, pray to God for us!"
OrthoHippy said, "Germs are spread by bad manners like not covering a mouth when coughing, not covering a sneeze, etc. As Kandila ana pointed out: 24 karat gold does not hold germs, and wine is an excellent disinfectant as any alcohol is. Germs surround us everyday, 24 hours, 365 days a year. To worry about one set is, frankly, ludicrous! Paranoia will destroy ya. In all honesty we always worried more about what the kids would bring home from school then what we might catch at Liturgy! As for not brushing teeth before receiving the Eucharist: some simply believe that nothing should enter the mouth before receiving. They think the full fast extends from the stomach to the mouth as well so will not allow anything to pass their lips. Here's a link to a great message addressing this concern: http://www.archdiocese.ca/"
vera_faith said, "I have been orthodox since i was born and always recieved Communion by the spoon and never in my life thought about germs or what not until i came to america. I was telling my husbands aunt, who is methodist, how we recieved Communion and she couldnt believe it! She thought it was gross! I tryied to explain that it is truly the Blood and Body of Jesus Christ and therefore can only do you good unless you take It in vain or unbelieve.I mean when someone gets sick they call the priest so he can come to their home and give them Communion, because it HEALS your body and soul! But she did not want to hear it, saying she could never do that. Anyways i never got sick but only better after i took It , never had herpes or anything like that. Neither did any of my family members. And nobody can tell me any different."
Kandila_ana said, "I'll take my chances with the spoon and my faith. Plus, the communion spoons are 24 karat gold which is naturally germ resistant. "
Artintel said, " Thank you Laura - this is a very important point that you have noted. I've been following the arguments presented by the RC observers and critics, and find that the RC host-hand delivery or hand-to-hand deliver can lead to questionable practices and results. One such situation may be found where the RC priest (modernist) or others can selectively choose from various locations in the challis to deliver??? I know personally of people who have suffered from some such selective distribution of the host. The same problem of control exists among many of the Protestants who have little plastic cups with alcohol-free wine for dispensation. The Orthodox Christian communion is much more hygienic if this was the only thing to consider. Theologically, one wonders why the RC chose the road it did in their communion practices. Thank you for bringing up this valuable subject. With prayers, for you and your family. Artintel"
All interesting comments. I wonder if the spoon our priests uses is 24Karat gold? And, if that infact makes a difference? Please keep the responses coming. We only stand to benefit from our conversations.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
It is hard to remember every detail, but here we go again. The panic button is already being pushed. Vaccines are already being prepared for selected groups determined by certain factors such as: age, and pregnancy. I spoke with my doctor today, and he thought as I did, that the media is creating a frenzy, while little known facts are available. He didn't have flu shots, but thought it best to obtain one for himself, as he is sixty-five. I remarked that not enough information was available concerning side effects, which I'm always leary of. I decided I would take the "wait and see" approach.We are people that live on the edge. The flu is a virus which is air borne and the only way you can protect yourself from the germs is to stay home with the covers over your head. Seriously who can do that? I don't mean to make light of this very serious potential threat. Hopefully, we're on top of it. I need to buy some hand sanitizers, but what if someone sneezes in my face in the supermarket or pew? It got me to thinking though about how different churches distribute communion. Our church uses the same methods it has for thousands of years, by the spoon. We belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church. Yet, the Western Orthodox Church does not use the spoon, but follows the western tradition of the bread on the tongue, drinking the wine from a cup, I believe. (Correct me if I'm wrong).Sunday, we had visitors from the Western Orthodox Tradition who confided that they did not take communion because they did not know "how to" in our church. While we have the same faith, our Liturgical structure differs in some ways. It will take time to adjust to those changes if they are to feel comfortable in our parish setting. Their all "English" liturgy includes a full choir, which resembles in sound the early Latin Church, before the changes. I don't recall if they also take the wine in a chalice after receiving the bread on their tongue, by their priest. Ours is all in one chalice receiving both the Body and Blood of Christ at the same time, from a spoon, by the priest "only." The only exception to this was when we celebrated the Liturty of St.James, then we received the Bread in our right hand, and the Wine in a cup. A very beautiful Liturgy said once a year.
This may sound gross, but my friend who is a nurse said that she had heard that years ago, people didn't brush their teeth, before taking Communion. Who knows?
Our priest is familiar with this subject as he is on top of the news, being a radio news anchor. The fact is, many years ago, when my husband John and I broached the subject with another priest, he said people took Communion during the plaques years ago, unaffected. Both priests have said, "You've got to remember who and what you are receiving". No doubt, world health authorities are gearing up for the worse, and that may require a quaranteen of sorts. I wasn't around in 1918, but saw some of the pictures with black wreaths on doors. I recall some of the stories my mom shared, in which the virus took the lives of family and friends alike.
The Western Orthodox Church is growing steadily and is new around this area. We welcome members new and old. East and West will encounter challenges ahead. And, will our two methods of taking Communion remain as they are now, or will an adjustment be needed, in some way, as is other churches?
It is winter in other parts of the world and I wonder how they are coping, and how the deadly flu has affected the Churches in their Countries. Ultimately, just as in years before, we will place our trust in our maker, fashioner, and our God.
I sure would like to know if anyone else has pondered on these things? Especially concerning the Church and taking Communion, worldwide.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
It may have something to do with the fact that we changed parishes, because they sorted parishioners by Nationality, that I didn't see Kippie anymore. I though he was too good looking to become a priest. I wonder how he turned out. But this story is more about serving God where you are planted. I recall as a young child I sang all the time, and still do. One day, while still at Sacred Heart, I was asked to join the choir. I didn't read music, but caught on. I think I was in the second grade, when to my surprise I was asked to sing "Come Holy Ghost." So, I did and while I was singing it seems the whole church turned around and looked up to see who it was. I didn't see them, but the sound was deafening. Since I'm not 5' full grown I can only imagine that they did not get a glimpse.
I have sung in just about every church in town. I wanted to take singing lessons, but we didn't have the extra money at that time. If anything, singing in the choir has made me well-rounded in music. Let me tell you what you already know, it is like night and day. The Catholic services are accompanied by an organ and other instruments which I observed at a Baptism a while back.
I'm sure it will come as no surprise when I say I enjoy the peaceful unaccompanied choir and cantor responses instead. You may have noticed that I used Singing Out as a title of this post. The reason is that I wanted you to know that if God can use me, he can use anyone willing. The fact is, after I had my two sons I didn't sing in church because I had asthma for one reason and was ill quite a lot. The allergist told me to blow on a horn or take some voice lessons to open up my lungs. It all happened so fast. First the lessons, the next thing I knew, I was Orthodox.
Orthodox and singing in a choir, no less. The priest approached me and asked me to be a choir director. This is bazaar for someone who just had a few voice lessons, did not understand or read music, never mind giving others a note. The short of the story is, that I chose to listen to God, and serve Him. Like Peter, I got out of the boat into the raging storm. And, that wasn't the first time. The church provided instruction, I took one lesson to find out where to place my hands on the organ, and served for ten years. I simply got out of the way, and let God. Many days after working, I spent directing the choir in a mirror, and playing the keys on the keyboard. I taught myself how to read music.
My husband and I are now five years at another parish. The liturgy is the same but we use a Cantor. It is difficult to sing from memory, not using an organ for a pitch. We follow the priest who is always on key, for the most part. The tones are different. So, being a convert I learned the eight tones in one church, and then switched to a totally different style. I am no longer bothered by asthma. The hoarseness that use to plague me was caused by the medication I was taking, a side effect I didn't need.
Why I am telling this story is because there is a catacumen out there who is being confronted with many questions and infact is probably going through a lot of different feelings. Why does God choose us? I don't know. Is it going to be easy? Definately not. Is it worth it? You bet.
To this day I don't think the two priests who have asked me to sing know that God asked me first in my heart, and prepared me for the task at hand. Because, He created me and my voice, and He wants me to sing for Him. We all have a purpose, and sometimes we ask why me? But, I have learned He is always there for me, and will be there for you if you just trust in Him. We can not hold other's responsible for what we were but we are responsible for what we become in Him. So get out of the boat and like Peter, let go and let God.
To read more on trust go here.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Here in the states just lately, we saw the result of people who were scared into thinking that a health care plan of action could lead to their demise faster than they would like. Erroneously or not, it makes one think, now doesn't it? Death only becomes welcoming when suffering is involved, according to most people. One thing is for sure, you're not going to escape it.
That leads to our purpose, that life begins when we know the only true God. And it does not begin after death but here and now. So how does it begin? We are all born the same, mindless. A word my mom used often. So in our quest, we study and learn what others teach us, filling our brain. History leads us on a path that can be both good and bad depending on who is our teacher. We are very much a product of learning by example and our environment. Yet, where we end up eternally depends on how we live life here. The question then becomes how do we acquire eternal life?
Acquiring eternal life depends on how much we love and that has nothing to do with education accept to learn who is "Eternal Life," Christ, our true God." How do we learn to love? God is both Love and Eternal Life. How do we then learn to "Know" God? With our Heart. (Taken from the Orthodox Study Bible) John 17:3 "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."
When we learn to see with our heart and fulfill the commandment to love one another, will we have a life worth living and will know the meaning of life and life eternally, through Him. You might even be happy, irregardless of life's status. Remember the hymn: As many as have been Baptized into Christ, Have Put on Christ, Alleluia!
Proverbs 21:1-3 "As a flow of water, so is the heart of the King in the hand of God; wherever He wills to incline it, there he turns it. Every man appears righteous to himself. But the Lord makes hearts right. To do righteous things and to speak the truth."
The book of Psalm, taken from the Orthodox Study bible, how we are to live is revealed.
Psalm 37:3-4 "Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart".
And, in time, you will learn (if there is anything worth learning here), is that the only desire of your heart is Him. It was always, loving Him. Because He loved you first--just the way you are.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
One would think it best to be a Martha, but Jesus makes a clarification here. We go through life troubled and distracted by many things. Martha wants Jesus to tell Mary to help her. So she goes to him with her complaint.
(Taken from the Orthodox Study Bible.)Luke 10:41-42 "And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."
So, what is that good part? Listen and learn to do God's will. That which He has sent us here to do. Today, we remember, Mary the ever virgin and mother of God, who listened to God's voice and when she was asked to be the mother of the Most High God, she agreed to it, and said :"yes". (Go here for more information).
We get to wrapped up in the politics and worries of this world. I often say to my grandson, are you listening with your two ears? So many diversions...that prevent him from hearing what I am saying. I teach him to say, yes, grandma I hear you, so I know that he's been listening and then I follow through to be sure.
We, as the children of God, are to listen to His voice and to do His will, not ours, and like Mary, the sister of Martha, and Mary the mother of God, we need to be listening first. Then, serve Him and other's as we are called to do. These two examples are "doing the good part."
Jesus was born truly "humbled" as He had to listen to His mother, Mary, all the while listening to the voice of His father.
We see in( Luke 22:42) "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me, nevertheless not My will but Yours, be done."
Yes, He listened to his mother at the wedding of Cana, even though His time had not come yet. (John 2:5) "His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it."
We must be like both Mary the sister of Martha and Mary the Mother of God and listen to His voice, but unlike my grandson listening with two ears, we must listen with our hearts. And then like the example of Martha, Mary, Mary the mother of Jesus, Jesus and his many miracles, death on the cross, and the many other servants, "just do it." To accomplish His will, you will need to be set apart from worldly cares, which are distractions which often misguide you in the wrong direction.
There is only one way that I know this to be possible. And that is Love, a love that is personal and begins with submission to the Most High God, your creator and your decision to listen.
(John10:4) "and when He brings out His own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice."
Friday, August 14, 2009
He loves planes and so we decided after breakfast, to take him to the airport to watch small aircraft take off and land. Then, because of all the road repair he got to see all sorts of equipment utilized in resurfacing, tree trimming and drain cleaning. And, unexpectedly, car carriers, and school buses. He knew the name of each truck and what it did.
We finally arrived at the fish hatchery,where we walked by beds of fish, mostly brown trout and some rainbow. Hugh fish just outside the building where folks could purchase fish food for a quarter and feed through the steel nets.
We drove through Quabbin and he enjoyed seeing the waterfalls. It was about two o'clock when we arrived at Howards for lunch. He was in his glory eating the soft serve chocolate ice cream. It is always good when the temperature reaches the middle 80's. The drive back went by the Lake which was refreshing. For the most part, the trip went through country and scenic roads. Howards always has old cars and motorcycles which he enjoys. Today, it was all the trucks, as he recalled seeing the Monster trucks recently at the speedway in Staten Springs, CT.
While driving through Ware, we got to see some trains. This was the main objective yesterday when we drove to Worcester. There is a toy store in Auburn where we bought ten new airplanes and three more DVD's.
Nathan wanted to get wet, but by the time we got back home, the mosquitoes were out in full swing. Maybe next time. We settled for his new movie all about cars, motorcycles, and much more.
It was a full day and he wanted to stay longer, but his dad was here and we were all tired from all the activity. He had alot to tell daddy, especially about the big fish. The last time I visited that place was twenty-six years ago, and I was amazed at the big blue trout. These were not there today, but the rainbow trout had a beautiful purple stripe on its side.
The wildlife was so beautiful and as well, we saw some unusual birds. This will be a day I'm sure Nate will remember and talk about for a long time to come.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
So why is St. Anne honored as we celebrate the Dormition, (falling asleep) of the Theotokos? Simple, there would have been no Theotokos if not for Joachim and Anna. The fact that it happened when she least expected it, shows that God can work wonders, whenever and wherever He wants, and He did.
The Theotokos, of her own choice, (free will), brought forth the nourisher of our life. We do not hear much of St. Anna, yet she started the whole ball rolling, being freed from barrenness, (her grandson is Life), and her daughter is the Mother of Life, the Theotokos.
Mary the Theotokos, possessed in her womb, the author of Life. Now at her death, she has been given the gift of life through Him who is Life. We will have life through her intercessions to her Son who is Life. Do not forget to call upon St. Anne as well, known as a fruitful intercessor for us. Just a quick note to the men who have always looked down on woman, it does not appear that God agrees with your opinion as Jesus came from not a man, but from a mother, a women. We are in no way inferior to men. Jesus took flesh from a woman. (He is made man, both human and divine, through the power of the Holy Spirit and a virgin named Mary).
The words of the Kontakion say, "Neither the tomb nor death could hold the Theotokos, who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions. For being the Mother of life, she was translated to life by the one who dwelt in her virginal womb!"
The Dormition exapostilarion explains that the apostles are brought together from the ends of the earth, gathering in the village of Gethsemane, to wake and bury her body. The final words provide the rest of the story. "And You, My Son and My God, Receive Now My Spirit."
The Dormition of Mary is one of my favorite feast days which will be celebrated this weekend. In finding this icon, a truth was revealed to me, which led to the "fullness" of the Orthodox faith and my conversion.
Jesus is Life: And He is the only alternative to death, which is a choice that begins with you.
So what happened to the Mother of God? The belief based on scripture is that she is in heaven, mysteriously "taken up" body and soul. Although no one saw her ascend into heaven, we get a glimpse as We read in Psalm 45:9-17.
(17) "I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the people shall praise you forever and ever." This reference is found in Luke 1:46-48) "And Mary said: " My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed." Taken from the Orthodox Study Bible.
As angel Gabriel has revealed, during the Annunciation, and in accordance with Luke's picture of her, Mary is praised in the Orthodox Church as being surrounded with divine grace and shining with holiness.
Psalm 45:(11) "So the King will greatly desire your beauty; because He is your Lord, worship Him."
Sunday, August 9, 2009
There are other's who spend a great deal of time trying to tell others how they feel and how they want things to be done, regardless of what other's may think. Sometimes they will negotiate or compromise. But their independent attitude drives people away and overwhelmed, they have a lot of unfinished projects or ideas, having little or no helpers.
The last groups attitude is "it will be done my way or the highway". They give you the feeling that the only way things can get done right is if they do it themselves. Because they know it all, they bend rarely on any subject. They get things done, but it may take a lifetime to accomplish anything, and it may be half-xxx. We all know people like that and shy away altogether from them. When things get tough, they quit and usually blame everything and everyone else for it.
There a story someone told about heaven vs. hell which drives home the point.
People were sitting around identical rounds tables with food and utensil. Yet the people in heaven were well fed and happy, while the group in hell, were starving and miserable. It seems the people overcame an obstacle in heaven by learning to share, feeding each other, while in hell they only thought of themselves and couldn't bring the long-handled spoon to their mouth.
This story made me think of how different we all are and how important those differences are. Learning to communicate will mean that someone who may have a vision for something great cannot achieve it but through someone else. The way it works is that everyone is to add to an idea until it can be brought to reveal every aspect concerning it before endeavoring into it, avoiding pitfalls. That ensures that price, availability, construction, durability and unforeseen problems are worked out first on paper. It offers alternate plans for what "ifs" avoiding back to the drawing board. The people that are asked "what do you think" ensures the success of your project, cutting wastefulness. They may have insight no one else may have do to experience, or sheer genius. Once the vision is clear the next step is to find someone who is good at prioritizing what needs to happen and when. A person who has organizational skills is a go to person for the ability of detail and being able to see the whole picture. Once you have a time line and course of action, it is good to find someone who can sponsor your project or have an idea of how to acquire the much needed funds, or supplies.
Nothing begins unless you have a vision or goal. Yet nothing is accomplished until people can see through your eyes. It takes many talented people to accomplish a goal like those in heaven who have figured out that through sharing it all works. We have got to learn to work together to enjoy the success that we deserve to have.
There is wisdom to be learned. If you can get into ones brain and derive from it what they want and how they feel, if you can see it, taste it, hear it you can become one with them, and in doing that, you will enter into their happiness. They sure will appreciate you and you will become their world. If you can share the vision, hope and dream, and accomplish that goal pleasing each other, then you have a marriage made in heaven, or sheer joy.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Born in the U.S.A. is a popular song which I believe came out a few years ago, and one which John and I enjoy hearing while travelling.
I do not think of myself as anything but American. I have a rich heritage right where I am. My parents were also born in this country. We are all English speaking and that includes my children as well.
My esteem is not determined by where my family originated from. I am a mixed breed, like many who hold claim to "one nationality" but whose heritage are multiple in reality.
I am deeply rooted in the tastes and sounds of my own country, America.
Americans have a love for many different foods and is a cultural melting pot, which makes us rich and diverse.
Years ago, people stuck to their own culture, but not anymore. Here in America we don't think it's important where you've been. But, more importantly that you here, part of the American Family. Its who we are and where we're going that is our strength, together as one family.
We've had the family tree done, at least on one side. That is one country, that leaves three more. After all, there are two grandfathers and two grandmothers and allot of relatives all over.
I guess, when it is all said and done, I'm proud to be an American, living in the good old U.S.A. Blooming where God planted me, right here in this small town, of American people. And, everyday I thank God for that!
So, when people ask me what "nationality" are you? The only true Answer, besides which one, is I'm an American.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
We had a bit of fun playing in the sand, and throwing sticks over the edge of the bank and finally watering a few plants before we headed for home. He of course looked for his favorite things like the basketball hoop, and was happy that he got to see Onshu, Fr. Peter's dog.
Nathan lives to please others, and is always looking for ways to help grandma. Tonight he wanted to carry a rather heavy shoulder bag, as we prepared to go to the Common for some fun. So we ate at the Golden Archers to begin with and then parked across the street at the Public House because the Common was so crowded. That meant more walking which is okay now, without the help of a carriage. The bands and chorus were playing while we stayed toward the back in order for Nathan to pass the ball with grampy.
I realized that Nathan had observed his "shadow" and was having a wonderful time, playing with it while playing ball. I wish you could have seen how happy he was. I was sitting on a bench and observing when out from nowhere a little girl with big brown eyes wearing a pretty cranberry dress caught up with Nathan. She saw him first and began to chase him around, then Nathan got the hint and began to chase her around. It was obvious that she was a tad bit older than Nathan, but they played well, running around after each other.
Grampy was tired as he tried to keep up with Nathan running over the entire common amongst the crowd of people. Then, Nathan was seen sitting on the ball. What is wrong, Grampy asked him. Nathan replied that he couldn't find her. Don't worry, grampy said she'll be back, so they started to play, and sure enough, along came the little girl. A budding relationship.
What did I observe today? My grandson loves to play ball, and he is good at it. He's good at running, but likes to be caught. It is clear that he is open to relationships, which includes God and neighbor, and sometimes his shadow.
He enjoys all nature, flowers, dogs and birds. There is room in his little heart for even his stuffed animals, as he was sure to carry them outside for a nap on the swing today. I noticed that he is wearing his bracelet again, because he is a good friend says Miss Linda his day care provider. He has to work hard at the priveledge of wearing this symbol of being a good friend, however, as boys will be boys. Relationships after all must be developed and nothing good comes easy.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The answers to high costs have been available for years. What causes high costs? In one word, irresponsibility. Yes, to a certain extent are we responsible for our brother, Christians, Jews or whatever you are. You cannot make your brother exercise, eat correctly, stop smoking, or any of the other known "bad habits" which lead to poor health and high health costs. How about the greedy, a fact that needs also to be addressed, but by whom?
Want statistics, you just have to look at one of the best hospitals in America today, the Cleveland Clinic. They are the first to point out that if you want cancer, diabetes, and some of the other dread diseases, you only need to look to the quality of food you are eating, such as: Hydrogenated oils, and I'm sure people know what junk food is. Buy the way, I think that is where the government should look first. Why do we have hydrogenated oils other than to insure a longer shelf life? Aren't these the oils that most countries, like Canada have taken from their shelves? Of course they would, they have a health care system that is for all. They know that disease is the result of poor food quality, that they do not want to pay for. Yes, people smoke, and they are paying the price for it. Sometimes with their lives. My sister was 47 years old, I need not go on. The problem is, will a national health care program pay for those who choose to neglect themselves knowing, yet not caring? As Christians, we are obligated to try to help our fellow neighbors, it took me years to get my own husband to quit. Prayer works. We have programs for everything and education is good but it goes beyond that. It must reach people who have little or no reason to wake up each day, but to enslavement of some kind. To unlock the door we must have the key, the key that says I care about you.
Cleveland Clinic deserves the positive recognition it is now getting and I only hope that other hospitals out there understand that they were designed to meet the need of the people and not become industries for profit. We have a wonderful hospital in this town. The staff is great and they've been know to patch up many that others would have turned away. The fire department is to be given credit as well, treating many poor and transporting them to hospitals even when they cannot afford to pay for the service.
I heard that people are complaining that abortions will not be paid for under this new health care plan. Why should they be? If you don't want to be pregnant then, that's your responsibility. Where were all these clinics years ago?I don't recall being pregnant out of wedlock in my youth, said to be desirable. Stop crying, if you cannot live with that responsibility, make sure it doesn't happen.
Just could it be that "obese" children and adults are not getting much needed "quality" foods, like fresh fruits, fish and vegetables? Sometimes you have to eat what is put in front of you. Why? Cost. Another subject that needs to be addressed. Cost of "quality food."
It is true that Massachusetts has paved the way for insurance for all residents. It is not free, some cannot afford it. Others, go to the hospital for the least little thing, that people with private insurance would not be able to do, nor would they. Who is bring up all the costs that has made this program in the red? Doctors must be made available to the sick and both their costs and pharmaceuticals must be affordable.
We need an attitude change all around. No matter what party. President Obama has some very good ideas. The key is to examine, where we came from, how have things changed, and where are we headed. The key word here is "we."
If we don't change "what the known causes of illness are," then how will we be expected to cut costs? Do we want to be a nation of healthy people?
So far, sadly, our attitude has been, if you don't want it, throw it away. That does not put a value on life, does it? What am I speaking about? (Obviously, I am a for life. "Pro-life.") Further, has this throw-away attitude diminished in anyway our view of life?Are we to determine who should or who should not live? By what standard? Will we want to determine what is the quality of life, which is to be decided by someone else or ourselves for that matter? And should these things become mandated by a government sponsored plan?
I have seen doctors, dentists refuse to accept different health plans. They will turn you away unless you pay cash. When you or an individual you love is ill, you will place yourself in debt. Statistics show that one of the major causes of bankruptcy in this country, is health care costs.
Just having your teeth cleaned could prevent heart disease. Preventative medicine is important. Who wants to be sick? Education, research, and reevaluation of food products must be mandated. Support programs which are not just for the "valued person," but for all God's children must be established by people who care for other people, that is "all of us."
We (because this problem is all of ours), will be solved when the attitude of our people is: I care, and share. It is after all fair and all our "Our Responsibility." One that begins with ME.
So, should the first question of a health care facility be to someone seeking medical assistance in this country be, "who is your health care provider?" I think not. Not if you think all people should be able to be cared for in our country, just because it is the right thing to do.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Below the Plexiglas window is a bar which is lit up and wine rack in which you can place your bottles. Beyond the rack is a huge mirror, reflecting the light which is white and seen in the evening. Another cabin light is just above the table. Transparent Plexiglas is assigned to both the left and right to assure safety as well as break the wind. The vessel is operated by an electric system and is very quiet and smooth, except when waves rock the side of the boat.
The operator of the boat sits in the back on the same type of seating steering with a beautiful wooden wheel which is seated on a podium like instrument control which operates the boat, horn, lighting, dimmers, stereo system and boat function. It had three speeds I think, reverse and turned on a dime. Behind the operator, an American Flag. The safety equipment is located within the seats. Like a roll-up shade, the rest of the boat was equipped with a heavy duty plastic, which could be brought down all around to protect you in the rain, or from the wind. Once down it was secured with strips of Velcro.
The first trip out we sipped on our drinks and enjoyed the stereo radio station, which did not sound as good as the CD of Josh Grogan, which we enjoyed the second time around. So here we were on Saturday, broad daylight around seven and the remark was made as we were looking at the beautiful homes, which people spared no amount of money on, with the comment of christening the boat. Just then, as John was pointing to a house, he bumped his hand on one of the posts. Unfortunately, he had his prescriptive sunglasses in his hand, which were moments later, in the drink. All of twenty feet down into the water, and lost forever. Being glass, they did not float, to the tune of $250.00. (Glasses which he just got recently). It seems everything happens to John. We continued to eat our dinner on the boat and went home promising to return tomorrow afternoon for a cook-out and another excursion.
Sunday we went to Liturgy and following I made a blueberry-zucchini bread and a banana chip bread to bring along with a sauerkraut-with tomato, onion and mushroom pita. John went for some beer and my favorite wine. I was concerned that we would have a storm as the weather channel indicated T-storms. So much for grilling. It was that kind of day, not unfamiliar to us this summer. Overcast, with sprinkles, looking at times dreadful, but not really pouring, yet. The clouds would not spoil our fun. Long slacks and sneakers were a must, to ward off the mosquitoes. The air was pleasant but humid. John, in taking the bags out of the trunk along with the goodies didn't expect the bottom to be wet from condensation and out slipped the wine bottle crashing and breaking all over the driveway. Can't let a little wine spill spoil our day now can we? Our dinner was just coming out of the oven and so we decided to go on another boat ride while the eggplant lasagna was cooling.
The plastic was sprinkled with raindrops and it was wonderful. Actually there was a clearing before we got back which enabled us to feast on the deck. Meanwhile, while on the boat we enjoyed chips and salsa, hummus with pita and of course, wine and beer. A spirited debate on the political issues and we were ready for dinner on a beautiful summer day. The deck is surrounded with flowers and its perfection cannot even be described. Heaven on earth.
We took dessert on the boat, now going around several times, requiring lighting as the darkness set in on a warm and most pleasant evening. Strawberries and cream on a vanilla layered cake. Pinch me! Now of course the moon had appeared in all of its loveliness flashing its smile across the deep waters. Looking toward shore were those who were burning their logs and relaxing by the fire. The smell of wood pleasing to the senses, like in the fall at a campground.
The starless, yet romantic journey had come to an end and we were docked once again. Driving home through the dark woods would be challenging if you were unfamiliar with the roads. Reminded me of Purgatory Park, where we got lost once and it seemed like we drove for miles not knowing where we were. Fortunately, we knew the way through the curving narrowed roads. Thankfully, it wasn't raining. We couldn't even imagine driving those roads in the monsoons we've recently had.
Even so, we have had a wonderful summer so far. Vacation is still ahead, yet we felt that we had been on vacation this weekend having experienced so much fun. Did I mention that I saw another blue herring? Just like one I saw in ME with the long legs. This one was checking out the water skies parked in front of a home. Bet he would love to try them out, if he could figure out how to.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
People like me, observing the show and familiar with the icons knew immediately that the information was being misconstrued. Unfortunately, those who are not rooted in tradition, did not understand that the sacred and written icon's message was to show connection between God and mankind. That is the point I want to make here, that you cannot believe all that you hear or see for that matter, especially on television where through the use of computers, visual facts can be altered to prove one's own and even bogus theory.
This leads me to another subject, one more than worthy to mention, the "Eyewitness to Greatness." This symbol I spoke of is present on most Icons that convey a very important fact and that is that on the feast day we celebrate, and have for thousands of years, a mysterious event occurred, unlike any to this day. It is called the Transfiguration. The written symbol also appears on other Icons such as: The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan.
Not all people are accepted in their own country, that receive recognition for greatness on the outside. (The Orthodox Study Bible) Luke:4:24 Then He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country."
So it is in the case with Jesus, there were many Jews in his town, and city who did not know who he was, (that is: the Lord), and like so many of the people today, had their doubts. I find looking at the Icons produced at that time to be a form of eyewitness. If you examine them, you will see the heaven and earth connection by the symbol I just pointed out, along with the Transfigured Jesus, but if that doesn't do it, we have the eyewitness of Apostle Peter, James and John.
This feast day is celebrated on August 6. It was an event that showed the "greatness" of Jesus as He was transformed on the Mountain. If you look at the Icon and read the testimony, the face of Jesus shone like the sun, His garments were as white as the snow. On His left and right were Moses and Elias, (representing the law and prophets.)
It would fair to say that the witnesses were frightened out of their minds. Imagine seeing Jesus illuminated in that fashion without warning, having never seen anything like that before. How about witnessing from out of nowhere two other men? Moses, long dead.
The Icon would show the three of them on the ground, one looking away, one looked as if he were thrown on his back, and another trying to shield himself with his garment. They obviously could not look upon the sight, nor stand in the presence of the Almighty God.
(John 1:34) "And we beheld His glory, the glory as it were of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." These are the words of the Eyewitness. I don't know how you feel, but science cannot top what happened here, no matter how many flights to the moon, or anything else they can boast about to this very day.
If that wasn't enough, then it was said by the gospel writers to dispel doubts of Christ's Divinity when the confirmation came from above as we read in (Matthew 17:5)"This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased."
I'll bet the eyewitnesses would have wanted to say, "why me?" Without a doubt none of us deserve to see such greatness. And, for what privilege have they been shown that Jesus is in all certainty, the Son of God?
Tomorrow we will hear the hymn that our Holy Orthodox Church prescribed for the Transfiguration which will offer the explanation.
"So that when they would see You crucified, they might know that your suffering was voluntary, and might proclaim to the world that you are truly the brightness of the Father."
Was it necessary for the follower's of Christ to Witness His transfiguration on Mount Tabor? Even with this knowledge, you may recall Peter's denial and cock crowing thrice. We will hear the words again...will they sink in this time? Will they change your life, belief, draw you closer for a second look?
I will become instrumental in proclaiming this miracle as given to us by the Church and it's tradition, through the faith of the eyewitnesses by presenting the hymn of this major feast day, (and proclaim the truth, the voluntary suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus). The fact is, He did it for love. I feel totally awed and humbled to serve Him in this way.
Jesus will be present in the Eucharist, (His body and blood), for all who draw near, to touch your heart and soul with His love for you. Will you be there to receive Him?