See Grandma, my eyes are really dark blue....not big brown ones like daddy

See Grandma, my eyes are really dark blue....not big brown ones like daddy

Ryan and friend

Ryan and friend
Mommy, Daddy, I'm saying Hi to Grandma?

This one is for you, Grandma!


soccer with determination and no airplane distractions

Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Baby

A fellow blogger and his wife have experienced something new in their lives, a grandchild. You probably know how special this is by now and we congratulate you and your daughter on the arrival of a little girl.

I don't have to tell you how special that is because you already know what a gift she is to all of you. In time, you will experience all the joy that was missing in your days and walk with a new step. Get ready for all the toys and noise and I want's....coming your way because of this special arrival, Walt.

We are so happy for all of you. And we're sending many good wishes your way from us in Massachusetts.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Communion on Plastic Spoons

I couldn't believe my eyes when I read the blog of Fr.Peter-Michael Preble: Communion on Plastic Spoons, on Facebook tonight. The question raised under the comments by Matthew Moore was even more to the point. "Why isn't the priest getting sick?" At the end of Liturgy the priest must consume the remaining content of the chalice. The same chalice that has served each and every communicant by way of the "spoon". If it were diseased he would in fact, be sick with every conceivable disease known to his congregation.

So, once again we look to science to dispute facts, yet are all facts known to science? If they were, there would be an end to cancer and disease, as we know it. Wouldn't there be an end to research? We do not have all the facts nor will we, as some things are meant to be mysteries, the "unknown." Bread and wine becoming the Body and Blood of Christ are one of those mysteries. It is a question of belief or faith.

When I was pregnant years ago, old wives tales prevented me from breast feeding. Leona my mother-in-law at that time, told me that the baby would get sick through me, a healthy mother. Many had strange ideas concerning what God gave us naturally. Instead, they relied on science or modern technology, to find the perfect baby formula. Nothing is better than the natural breast and its milk. Not only is it the right temperature, available when the baby needs it, the correct amount, but contains antibodies and other aids which cow milk does not have. Cow milk is for calves. Breast milk is for babies. Okay, I bought that argument for the first child, but knew better for the second one.

Sex was a taboo subject years ago, which you did not talk about. Even breast feeding. This is truly an unbelievable story but true. When I was breastfeeding my second child and got a cold, she sent over face masks so I wouldn't give my germs to the baby. I threw them in the closet totally upset. Common illnesses such as colds, flu or diarrhea cannot be passed through breast milk. If a mother is sick her breast milk will have antibodies in it. Go here for more information. The exception is: HIV. Hepatitis C can be transmitted through cracked nipples. There are many more examples of protection from disease, if it is present in the mother.

A Good and Loving God provides. If you have faith and love for who you believe IS in the bread and wine transformed mysteriously into the Body and Blood of Christ, as you draw near to receive Him, why the doubt?

The scripture answers the question for us in Matthew 26:26 (The Orthodox Study Bible), Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and give it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body."

I am not a theologian but this is my take on why the priest isn't getting sick with any disease. Because no disease, or anything impure, nor sin, can exist in the Body and Blood of Christ God, the only sinless One.

Just as our belief is that the Virgin Theotokos, was ever-blessed and most pure, and bore Christ in her womb physically, being purified by Him, and contained in her womb "He" who cannot be contained. And, (Ps 103:3) "Who heals all your diseases" as a fact.

Unless you believe that the One in her womb was God, the One who died on the cross for our sins, the One who gives Himself to us in the mystery of Holy Communion, you are still in the world.

The world of science, and of sin, lacking faith, and using plastic spoons for communion.

Now for the big questions, to be repeated is: What Happened To Those Spoons? And What were you thinking?

I'm Siked

I'm not sure if I spelled the title right, but I am excited because Shiloh is coming to entertain at St. Michael's church hall on March 13th at 7:00PM. It is a 5 piece Gospel Acoustic Band from Central Massachusetts which is influenced by Southern Gospel. We are so blessed in this area to have wonderful Christian entertainment.

We are in the fast period of our journey and about this time foods get a little crazy. Last night we had vegetable soup and salad, black coffee and dessert. Today though, you would wonder if I were pregnant by the way I am eating. This morning I had oatmeal with cashews in it, no dairy and black coffee. Earlier, when I got up with my husband, I chowed down black olives and coffee. Sitting in front of me for lunch, the rest of Taboule salad with peas and broccoli, rice crackers with sesame seeds and guacamole, a dip made from Avocado's. It is so good! Being on a fast sometimes can be fabulous. Yesterday, I finally froze the rest of my lentil soup. It was very thick made with fresh, processed spinach added to the basic recipe. I've been making stir-fried vegetables in the evening, my favorite is a string bean variety, adding a little whole wheat pasta at times. I am enjoying the shrimp with garlic and ginger flavorings and sometimes spice it up with cocktail sauce. Anything with mushrooms satisfy me. You could say that I'm almost on a "green diet." We have been hearing a lot about going green, so there you go....

Coming back to our "facing east coffee house" event, pop corn is usually served, which is also one of my favorite snacks. While having lunch today, I recalled that my grandfather brought over from Italy his mandolin. I never knew him as he passed away before I was born, but I always loved the sound of that instrument. Shiloh features steel sounds, and it brings back memories of my dad who played the steel guitar as well as my brother, Joe. We are a family who is into music. It seems to be inherited in us, somehow. My grandmother, like my son can play the organ/piano without music, by ear. Steve can play the sax, guitar, organ and drums. Several years back, I recall a debate about talent, when someone said there is only that which you learn from experience or study. Last week the dentist and I agreed that you have to have an ability to hear it. Not everyone has that gift. I remember my husband and I went to see the Phantom of Opera and he was miserable, not having heard even one word, yet I heard each and every one.

The gospel is like that. Every time you read it, you find that you get more out of it. It must be opened to you. And you need to be willing to hear it.

If you enjoy music shared with a group of willing listeners, I'm sure Shilo will have a message in there somewhere just for you. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Star takes show by surprise

Everyone has their favorites usually they are people who wow you in some way. Perhaps, someone who has gained your favor by their beautiful voice, or it could be someone who entertains you with their humor. Most people will attend an event specifically to see that person who is worth the exorbitant fee which enticed you to be there initially.

My childhood saw many wonderful characters and we all were captivated by Disney Movies and shows. I remember "flub-a-Dub" and Howdy Doody and Clarabell. Puppets were popular on TV shows back then. Cinderella was another of my favorites. I had all the little records, 45 RPM I think they were called, and I sang the songs all day while doing chores, dreaming of my prince charming. Maybe you remember the song "Someday my prince will come, someday I'll find the one..." And, "When you Wish Upon A Star." Sometimes living in a world of make believe takes you away, and keeps you in a state of hopefulness.

I think singing always made me happiest. Couldn't whistle for beans though. It was rare in our house to be entertained other than television. People in that time frame enjoyed drive-in theaters, where a whole family got to pack in to dad's car for a per-car price. They usually featured several movies, first for the kiddies, and later the main feature, like Laurence of Arabia. We were happy to be together, although hot and mosquito bitten, we shared much laughter, pop corn, soda and candy.

Our area does little in the way of entertainment but we have seen some really nice plays lately, such as "The Love Boat" and one that we were not able to attend but heard all about. My boys grew up in a house where there was a lot of music. As director of the Sunday School in my previous church, besides the summer vacation bible program, we had many religious plays and dinner-plays which drew in many to support the cast. I directed the Christmas play each year and several other's, in which my two sons were participants. We had fun and many times things went totally wrong, which added to the success of the event, surprisingly. Like the time we had technical problems with the sound system, causing the music to speed up. The dancers never danced so fast in their young lives, and looked quite comical dressed as ballerinas, in fast gear.

This leads me to tell you that my friend, Jean went to see my son Steve, play the drums in the background of the recent show, last week, which was held at our local high school, "The Wizard of Oz." She related that the star of the show, in her opinion was "Toto".

Jean and Steve have a small dog, Madison, so I can appreciate how Totos appearance was especially noted by her. She said that the dog allow it to be placed in the the basket by the wicked witch without barking. Remarkable! The dog didn't know it was a play, and that had to be frightening for the little thing. Then, the dog was seen going behind the curtain to pull on the pant leg of the Wizard. Training people is difficult enough, but to get the dog to do it's part certainly is something to be admired. Can you imagine if the dog was unruly?

She said it was great and wanted Steve to switch dogs? It's not surprising that the dog captivated the audience. I'm sure that the little munchkins were adorable too. You never know who will be "Star of the Day."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Art of Humor

One of the best gift to have in life is the Art of Humor. Tonight, after Pre-Sanctified Liturgy, we gathered in the our church hall for a pot-luck Lenten meal.

At the table , Charlie told me a joke, and I knew it would be a clean one, as they are not all. It went something like this: A child sitting on the lap of a grandfather asked him if he would croak like a frog. The grandfather being surprised at the unusual request, asked the child why.
The child said that his grandmother said that when he croaked, she would take them all to Disney World.

Everyone likes to be with people who tell good jokes. I find them to be good company. I've tried, but find that either I didn't get it right or something happened to the punch line as it fizzled losing its effectiveness. It's been so long since I told a joke, I can't even think of one. Of course, jokes are contagious and no sooner than that one was out, someone else was ready with did you hear the one about....

Humor is a way to break the ice, or calm a situation, or just make for a great time. I wish I had a sense of humor, as I tend to be too serious all the time. It is sort of an art, and the more you do of it the better you become at it it is said.

So, here is the other joke: A school teacher asked her students to stand if they thought that they are stupid. She repeated the question, no one rose except for one boy. She asked him if he thought he was stupid and he answered No. I just didn't want you to be the only one standing.

It really does require two people communing together, as one is able to deliver the joke, the other must be receptive to understanding it. In other words, you must be able to find the content of the story funny. Some people take offense.

My mother had a very funny joke about beans and if I can remember it, I'll try to pass that one along tomorrow night at the community meal. She would do it perfectly. I always broke down and laughed while telling the story, making people laugh but not at the joke, because I couldn't manage to finish it with a straight face. The art of humor is after all, all in the presentation.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Trouble in Paradise

We are never happy. Adam had paradise all to his own, yet he was not happy. Genesis tells us "That there was not found a helper comparable to him" (Genesis 2:20). God wanted him to be happy so along came Eve. We all can agree that God in His wisdom, made all things good. So how did the battle of the sexes begin? Right there, trouble in Paradise.

Well it happened that Eve ate from the forbidden tree and gave some to Adam. (Adam could have said, no thank you.) But, he did not. Because of "free will," salvation began. It had become necessary for reconciliation between God and man. The interesting part of the story, beside the fact that Adam blamed Eve for the temptation, and ultimate loss of paradise, is what is disclosed to the serpent or the real cause of the problem for both Adam and Eve.

The serpent would be "cursed more than all cattle, and more than all the wild animals of the earth. On your breast and belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life."

Here is the important part. "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed." He shall bruise your head, and you shall be on guard for His heel."

The woman is punished by her pain in delivering children. Worse yet, "Your recourse will be to your husband, and he shall rule over you."(16).

That leaves us with the problem of understanding that above which plainly said to the serpent, "He shall bruise your head." Who is He? "And you shall be on guard for His heel."

(Between your seed and her seed): The woman's seed is Christ, who being God, the Word becomes incarnate through the birth of the Virgin Theotokos, and became Man. As we read in John (1:14) "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." "He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me."

The second part is that Christ destroyed the devil through the cross, "bruise your head."

On the cross, the words, (John 19:30) "It is finished," shows an end of the battle and final conclusion of God's plan, the salvation of man through death, resurrection and Ascension. (We wait His second and glorious coming).

Who is the devil's seed? All those who reject Christ. And the Church which Christ established on earth.

On Saturday evening, of Holy Pascha, we will sing: "through the Cross joy has come to all the world. "Let us praise His resurrection, For in enduring the Cross for us, He destroyed death by death."

"Risen from the grave as He foretold, Jesus has given us eternal life and His great mercy."

Reading "Great Lent" Journey to Pascha, by Alexander Schmemann, (P28), he wrote the following: "Thus at the beginning of lent we are like Adam:

Adam was expelled from Paradise through food:
Sitting, therefore, in front of it he cried:
'Woe to me...
One commandment of God have I transgressed,
depriving myself of all that is good;
Paradise holy! Planted for me,
And now because of Eve closed to me;"

Here goes the blame game. Adam you had "free will" and you chose to partake. Or, was it God's plan to be fulfilled by His only begotten Son, Jesus?

The answer is clear. Continued on (Pg. 28)
"Then answered the Savior to him:
'I wish not my creation to perish;
I desire it to be saved and to know the Truth;
For I will not turn away him who comes to Me....."

Isaiah 45:14 (Orthodox Study bible) "Thus says the Lord of hosts: "Egypt labored for you, and the merchandise of the Ethiopians and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall pass over to you. They shall be your servants and follow behind you, bound with handcuffs. They shall bow down and make supplication to you, because God is with you; and they shall say, 'There is no God besides You. (15)For You are God, the God of Israel, the Savior, yet we knew it not."

Isaiah"(53:12)"He was considered among the lawless, and He bore the sins of many, and was delivered over because of their sins."

The old testament teaches us that Christ came to Save us. Whether or not there was an Adam, there certainly is suffering. And, like Adam, there certainly is Choice. Choice is a gift from God, your gift of free-will. Your "free ticket" to paradise.

Whether you chose to believe or reject Christ is your decision.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

You would know it

Just heard another small plane go over the rooftop of my house. They are flying today for sure just because I am not at the airport sitting in my vehicle with my grandson waiting and watching for one to take off and/or land on the small runway, located on a hill of our town. We stopped to pick up a pair of sunglasses, as yesterday's endeavour was hampered by the rays of the sun, of course, in his eyes.

There is nothing that he likes better than seeing and playing with a variety of airplanes and jets which have been added to his growing collection. Since last week, while his day care provider was on vacation, I have taken him to the airport not once, but twice. It looked like a ghost town. If you live in the big city, this would come as a surprise to you that nothing, I mean nothing was going on. The windsock was blowing to beat the band and it was cold and overcast yesterday. At least the previous day it was sunny. Wind of course is dangerous to a small aircraft and due to the fact that the restaurant was closed, it certainly was not an inviting atmosphere. Perhaps, we will have more luck in a few weeks as the Spring approaches.

Still, at four, he found it to be a fun place to visit, singling out the "orange one" as his favorite. Usually, on the small winding road going down hill, we pass by a small fenced-in area that contains a few animals, but they were not even out yesterday.

City children have available much more! In this area you simply have to make your own fun. Nate has learned to entertain himself very nicely on his computer, by watching DVDs and by playing with the many toys he has accumulated over the years. He never seems to be bored but then, hes at an age where most everything is still pretty new to him and he is still learning.

He is a whiz with the computer and other sophisticated and technical items, sometimes more than I am. Yes, it is nice to know how to be technically savvy, now if he can just learn to put on his own socks. He's got the rest down, except for putting things on backwards, inside out or on the wrong feet. And, as we all know it, patience is required as everything comes in good time.

There was one occasion for a time out, rare for Nate at grandma's house which was followed by having a conversation like adults do, sitting on the couch in the living room, where he related that he was mad at grandma because I bought the small container of chocolate milk and not the large one. (Translation--He didn't get his way again). I hate that too! He didn't complain about the toys that were bought at the dollars store, though. After the conversation, we were friends again. I think he was a little tired. So was grandma. Waiting around can be tiring for anyone. He took a little nap. A good thing to do on a cold winter's day.

Maybe there was a little disappoint in there somewhere, as he wanted to go to breakfast at the airport like he remembered doing so many other times we visited there. Winter its been fun, but I can't wait for Spring to come!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Gluten free-Lenten Stir Fry

1 large, sweet onion, sliced in thin rings
1/2 bag of Shredded Cabbage
1 cup of chicken broth or vegetable broth (for vegetarian or use during lent)
1/2 cup sliced red pepper
1/2 cup of sliced carrot
3/4 chopped mushroom
1/2 cup of broccoli, chopped or fresh without stems
1(dry)C of pasta, gluten free, cook, drain and set aside
a dozen frozen, cooked shrimp, medium to large (defrosted)
2 Tablespoons of canola oil
2 Tablespoons of Rice Road Stir fry sauce (garlic and ginger)

Place the canola oil in a large skillet or pan to saute onions and shredded cabbage. Stir in remaining vegetables, cook slightly. Add sauce and cooked pasta of choice along with the broth, reducing heat, simmer to taste, blending well. Place shrimp on the top of the softened vegetables and cover. Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

Options: Use cashews as a substitutes for shrimp, sauteing them with the onions in oil and cabbage before adding the remaining ingredients.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Source

One of the best reasons for not judging your brother, is you never know when it could happen to you. One of the greatest sins is to think yourself above someone else because "I would never do that," demeaning someone else. We are all sinners and are no better than anyone else. The theme of not judging your brother visits us over and over during lent. It is certainly true. Last time I posted, it was about forgiveness Sunday. We all make mistakes because we are human, and simply cannot help ourselves.

Last evening we attended our first of a series of Pre-Sanctified Liturgies. You can hear words repeated over and over again, but then for the first time you hear something that you didn't quite get before. That was the way it was for the Prayer of St. Ephraim of Syria. During the priests homily, it was pointed out that there are two versions, one Greek and one Slavonic. Being from the Romanian church I wondered which verse is used and what the popular one was. I learned that the standard form of the prayer is the Greek version.

This is the Greek version "O Lord and Master of my life, give me not the spirit of sloth,..."
The Slavonic version "O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth,..."
They have two different meanings, which I never thought about before and I wondered which is correct?

I thought about this off and on during the day and have concluded that they are both correct. God allows things to happen for your edification, or at times, to edify someone else through you, as He wills. And yes, only God can change the disease of "sloth" within us if we ask Him to.

A great way to begin is on our knees with our focus on our own mistakes in a very humble manner. There is no other way to rid ourselves of unwholesomeness, no matter how we arrive at it, but to turn to Him who is our Life. Living that life according to His plan and purpose.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spiritually Unglued

Today is forgiveness Sunday. A time when we ask each other to forgive the many offenses and times we have hurt them and others. It is also St. Valentine's Day, in which we are reminded that we are to remember those whom we love. How we have both of these on the same day is questionable, except in my mind, they go hand in hand.

You cannot truly love someone if you cannot forgive them.. And it is because you love them that you can bring yourself to forgive them. How ironic! There is no better time than now to ask you to forgive me if I have offended anyone on this blog, known or unknown.

John and I went to dinner tonight, in fact all weekend it seems we ate out, beginning at our favorite spot on Friday, the "pub at 12 Crane," breakfast yesterday at Anna's, and both coffee hour this morning and at the Facing East Coffee House last evening at the church. The food at Finn's and tales this evening was fantastic.

Tomorrow we start another journey because we have lost our way and in entering the "lenten spring" we are reminded that we have become spiritually unglued, unplugged, if you will, and need to "regain the light" and to desire it. We are in need of recharging our souls, just like a battery. We are off track, so to speak. On this road of fasting and prayer, we are reminded, beginning with forgiveness, that if don't forgive others, we will not be forgiven. Next comes the poisons which deprive us of our spiritual energy. The first basic disease is "Sloth" or Spiritual Laziness. It is the root of all sin, and finds you in a state of despondency. That is when you fail to see anything as "good" and your world becomes negative, as pessimism rules the day. Or, for a better term, a sense of "hopelessness" is how you grow to become.

We are lucky to belong to a faith which teaches us how to avoid the "pitfalls" and how to get re glued when we drift away from the light as did Adam in paradise. The Light of Christ is directing us toward the Holy Pascha, illumination and rebirth.

Let us begin with the Great Prokeimenon, which announces the beginning of lent.
"Turn not away Thy face from Thy servant
for I am afflicted!
Hear me speedily.
Attend to my soul and deliver it!

He is the only way to turn your afflictions into joy and that journey begins, now!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

On A Bright Winter's Day

Tuning it all out is what I call it. The insanity that the media creates about the impending storm. It's winter, and aren't we used to a few flakes? What choice do we have, anyway? Every station was saying something different. How can that be? No one person seemed to have the right story as of last evening. We were led to believe that we would have up to sixteen inches of snow from this one, which was coming up from the South. So much for their sophisticated technology.

Panic, Panic, and more Panic! That is the reality that we live in today. It would appear that the news thrives on "bad news" so to speak. Yet, what was the reality? Here, at least where I was, the day was beautiful. That's what I saw. That was my reality. Tonight the wind is blowing out there but with it's gusts, no real accumulation, as of yet. Now, they are saying we will have 3" to 6" of snow. It should taper off around midnight. Alarmists all of them! I was safe, warm and happy.

I spent most of the day cleaning the bathroom, cleaning and polishing, while enjoying the view of a wooded backyard. Animal footprints disappeared as I wondered what in fact, they were, now swept away by the wind and other elements. It was so quiet and enjoyable. The only other sound was the Byzantine Chant that I played, a CD by the Boston Byzantine Choir, entitled: "Thy Passion." And, at times, I joined in.

Winter is a great time for soup, and I had one simmering on low, the smell permeated the air in all it's grandness. Life was meant to be enjoyed in a very simple manner with an air of peacefulness and a heart full of thanksgiving.

I was never one for a lot of "things" or distractions that get in the way of what is to be a joyful beginning into a lenten "atmosphere" which promotes a state of mind that leads to a "summer place." This state of mind can change your life, helping you overcome any obstacle that you may encounter.

We struggle to find our way through the muck constantly bombarding us at every turn. We are only able to take one step at a time on life's journey. Praising God for all things, and finding Him patiently waiting for us along the way because He is always there. He is with you especially in the stillness, on a bright winter's day.

We are capable of the "Ultimate Surrender" foretasting Pascha, in our Lenten endeavour, and we desire to approach Him, hearing the small inner unmistakable voice that is His and trusting in Him that orders all things for you. And in all things, we do not question why, but accept His will for us.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Power packed month

The smallest month of the year is the one of the most important in terms of its unique potential for love. Of course, Valentine's day is one of the reasons one can make that determination. Tons of chocolates, flowers and other goodies are exchanged on the 14th. You can take it as a hint as this commercially designed, get rich card company day, is right around the corner, "if " you have forgotten. We joke about it, but it is extremely important that you do not forget that "special person" or people, in your life. I can remember my son gave his girl a nice homemade gift years ago, a big cookie made in a pizza pan that he personalized with icing.

Love is in the air. Is it any wonder that the "author of Love" would place so much importance on this four-letter word. So much so that the Parable of the Last Judgment is all about Christian love. It is our duty and mission to transform the world with our "personal love".

As a child raised in a large family with other large families around there was enough love to go around. Certain cultures are affectionate and other's are not. I remember going to visit my aunts and they always had a hug for us, that was on my dad's side. The other side, tended to be "cold" in comparison. They were not the hugging or kissing type, no kissing cousins. Yet, we knew that despite the culture difference, they were there for us, if we needed them. People who are unloved are often said to be sick, and hunger and thirst for that "need". The importance of being loved cannot be underestimated. Love of other's is a responsibility that cannot be ignored, that is if you want to be counted among those saved and those who will merit the Kingdom of Heaven. Everyone deserves to be loved irregardless of, lest we enter into judgement.

Nothing on this earth counts more than the power of love given you to share with someone else in need. It's Christ's love after all, period.

What is love? Many things...forgiveness, tenderness, patience, kindness, and sometimes just listening-being there for someone else, protecting, careing for, and being sensitive and non-judgemental. Remember that the measure that will be given us is determined by how much we give to others. Everything is determined by how much we love others. Put simply, "no love in you, no life in you." For in this, you will judged-- "if we denied someone love" by our refusal. Self-centeredness and hardened hearts are opposite of the Divine plan, in which God gave us His only begotton Son, because He Loves us.

Love is a decision. "For inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me..." (Orthodox Study Bible) "and what measure you use, it will be measured back to you."

Better make a list! Your future depends upon it.

A Journey to Pascha

Those who are unfamiliar with the word Pascha, may call it Easter. It is a journey that has already begun. Rest assured, it has nothing to do with a bunny, nor any other frivolous and non-essential thing.

When we take a journey we must chart our course. John has the new system which is only too happy to tell us where to go. Unfortunately, on our last trip, we got off and on the highway unnecessarily, more times than we care to mention. So much for non-human direction. If we had been wise, we would have prepared for our journey by marking out a map, "just in case." Good preparation leads to a place. We were fortunate that someone at a toll booth was able to accommodate us with the information that charted our course successfully to reach our destination. Our spiritual journey is much like that, "directed" that we might walk on the right path in order to reach our spiritual fulfillment. Our Holy Father's are there to lead the way, having been down the path before us.

To prepare for Pascha, we must have an action plan and goal to connect us with "Him" who is in our heart, our Love and our joy. He is the One that surrounds us with goodness and gives us the good things in life.

How do we get there? Always the hard way. Seek and you find and the doors will be opened to you? Seek where? That is "THE" question. So how do you get to where you are going if you don't know how to get there? Ask someone who's been there.

I'm sure you'll find your way, you go everywhere else. It begins with "Desire." Isn't it time we humble ourselves, and like the Podigal son, come home? We are sorely missed!

There are plenty of seats open in church. Sunday would be a good day to start. Don't wait too long it'll be here before you know it. The Giver of Light will gladly show you the way when you pray. Your first step into the "bright sadness" of Lent will begin your journey to new life in Him, making your "spiritual spring" glorious.

Taken from the book "GREAT LENT, Journey to Pascha" by: Alexander Schmemann, is found my favorite Great Prokeimenon, which announces the beginning of Lent.

"Turn not away Thy face from Thy servant
for I am afflicted!
Hear me speedily.
Attend to my soul and deliver it!"

The two words "Bright Sadness" take on a new meaning. Sunday, the theme will be on "forgiveness." That is always a great place for all of us to start...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Years ago when being raised in a particular denomination you would not even consider "if you were in the right church" because it was not an option, and you were what you were because you were born into it. Today due to mixed marriages and exposure to other faiths, choices are the norm for individuals and change is the result. If you don't like one church, you can go to another. Maybe it is better to switch, than not go at all. It's not a family affair anymore.

Usually the man follows the woman to the altar in her church. Then, once married the priest expects your family will also attend that parish, once you are baptized into it. That is one type of "growth in a parish." Some faiths are not in favor of birth control, that means more kids and eventually a larger church. It used to be that way, anyway.

Sometimes talented pastors get "butts" in the seat by telling them what they want to hear. No one wants a long winded pastor. He has to have a sense of humor as well. It is true that unless people are drawn to hear the truth, they cannot have closer communion with God.

Churches gaining popularity these days are the "feel good" churches. They are packed with people who just want to be "churched" without commitment, just in and out so to speak. They want to be entertained and leave with the knowledge that God loves them, no matter what. They will not have consequences for their "sins" although they know they are sinners, the price has already been paid. They are no longer in bondage but "free." Free to worship with their friends and neighbors in a carefree manner, and of course, don't forget the social hour. I call this superficial. Deepness is not needed to fulfil the need of being a church attendee.

Some churches have fancy organs and others entertain with music groups. And, around Christmas, don't forget Santa. The feel good churches are raking the bucks so they can afford to advertise to bring in more activities that will entice new members, which will allow any pastor to boast about and write books about the numbers. It is not personal. Your always welcome with no obligation, and that fulfills your need to go to church.

Pastors have accountability for their flock. All flocks grow, as people grow their families. Some worry about declining numbers, which cause them to examine themselves asking, "what am I doing wrong?" Some have said that they have found "the true faith" and that they believe it is, and wonder why people are not flocking to their church. People believe in what they choose to believe in, not what you believe in.

The only time people flock together is out of respect for family or friends, and will attend funerals, weddings and other special services, held on a feast day like Easter or Christmas.
People have for the most part become shallow and showy.

Another blog that I read recently compared a bible passage that implied that nets must be "cast out for a catch", and noted that sitting on the shore with a net would not bring fish to it.
Yet, you could sit out all day fishing, having done all the right things and it does not guarantee catching any fish. Would that mean you did not do your job? Of course not, it just means that the fish are not biting.

Finally, if your church were to close tomorrow would it be missed? Would anyone know that you were gone? Now that is a good question. It is the question. Depending on "what's in it for me" will determine that answer. Most people will just say "it's too bad, and move on."

Churches are closing everywhere, suggesting that they are a thing of the past. Young people are just not buying into the obligation sadly and outside of the "feel good, noncommittal, churches" (which are not structured buildings, but can be held in tents and auditoriums, or are held in rented buildings), do not have a need to attend on a regular basis or, not at all. Everything else has gained their attention on Sunday, no longer a "church day for most."

If it were me, I'd cut bait not having the patience to sit and wait for the bite. Yet, where there is one fish, there may be a school of them waiting to take the bait. You have to decide if your a fisherman or not. Casting the net requires that you believe that there are fish out there, hungry ones.

A Virgin Bride

Finding a virgin bride today is just as popular as finding church goers, far and few between. The desire to find yourself a virgin bride is noble but fruitless, as the custom went out of style before the sixties in this country. If you were still a virgin when you married, you were thought to be unattractive or taboo (off limits), for some reason. That reason may have been that you spent a lot of time in church and had a very strict set of "do and don'ts" expected of you by your parents. "My mom esteemed virginity, and marriage." So do I.

I didn't date much. I was too busy helping my family and of course going to school. It actually bothered me to think of myself as "one of the only virgins around, "still" and that was in the seventies. I guess you would have said of me that I was "old-fashioned, and on the defense."

Looking back, I'm sure it was the way I was raised. My mother was very much in control of her children and my dad made sure we were in the house, early. Almost like the years of chaperone's, we went out in groups. The commandments were drilled in our heads at Sunday school and prior generations who were found in a family-way were forced to give up their baby. I only learned years later why her older brother was adopted. Birth control was not as available and that was was not guaranteed to work. It wasn't free, and things were very different.

I was placed in a position where a man having lost his wife, and was living in this town, formerly from the old country, wanted to marry me. This arrangement would have left me "set financially." My mother disagreed, saying we are in America now and that is not the way it is done anymore, and I'd marry for love and for no other reason.

Change is what happens while life goes on and we need to keep up or we are on the outside looking in. Some changes were not good, but they happened anyway. When you are different for any reason you sometimes feel like a failure. Everyone must make his or her own decision in the end.

So what became unfashionable? Church, Virginity and life itself. All these are related to one question, and that is what is Love.

If you know where loves comes from, you will find a church where you can thank your maker who is Love Himself. If you have respect for yourself, then virginity is the natural way for you to be. And, married women seldom have need to destroy the child present in their womb, because that child gives life meaning and it is a precious gift from a loving God.

We all look for answers to the question why because we feel we are not doing our job. Our ideals cannot be forced on people who desire change and we have all heard the story about the wide and narrow path. Once you go down that road it is hard to find your way back. Will we in time understand the truth and walk the narrow path? Or, will time with it's multitude of changes mostly in err, according to the guideline of our earlier Christian upbringing, fall by the wayside?