Monday, April 27, 2009

New Idea

Sometimes I come up with really good ideas. My most recent one I will share here. It is a game called "I am Thinking of an Animal and it Rhymes With ___"

This is the best game ever. Everyone who plays it loves it.

Shmelafunt!

Biller Dale!

Flamster!

Pluck-nilled Chatamuss.

There are absolutely no frills. If you guess it you get to go next or you can give your turn away to Little Mark who often growls and we all yell "Dinosaur!"

I should sell this idea, but instead I'm giving it away free.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dear Brethren,

Christ is Risen!

This morning Margaret was burned by hot water that was spilled in her lap. Her burns began to quickly blister and she was in great pain. Margaret was actually transported by ambulance to the Emergency Room of the Children's Hospital of Palmetto Richland in Columbia. In the ambulance she was given morphine for the pain and the initial assessment in the Emergency Room was that the burns were severe. After anointing her with the oil from the lampada of the sepulcher of St John Maximovich and saying the anointing prayers, the surgeon came to see her. At his examination, he determined that the burns were not nearly as bad as first thought (in fact the tiny red blood-spots had completely disappeared) and Margaret was able to be discharged from the hospital in the early afternoon. She has to have a specially dressing on her burns for a couple of weeks as well as take special baths once a day.


I am convinced that St John had some part in alleviating her burns and pain. (And this would not be the first time he has interceded on her behalf.) Nevertheless, please keep her and us in your prayers.

With much love in our risen Lord,

Fr Mark

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

CHRIST IS RISEN! ХРИСТОС ВОСКРЕСЕ!



People rejoice, all nations listen:
Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice!
Dance all ye stars and sing all ye mountains:
Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice!

Whisper ye woods and blow all ye winds:
Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice!
O seas proclaim and roar all ye beasts:
Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice!

Buzz all ye bees and sing all ye birds:
Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice!
O little lambs rejoice and be merry:
Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice!

Nightengales joyous, lending your song:
Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice!
Ring, O ye bells, let everyone hear:
Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice!

All angels join us, singing this song:
Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice!
Come down ye heavens, draw near the earth:
Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice!

Glory to Thee, God Almighty!
Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice!
Glory to Thee, God Almighty!
Christ God is risen! Let us rejoice!

Serbian Text:

Ljudi likujte, narodi čujte:
Hristos voskrse, radost donese!
Zvezde igrajte, gore pevajte,
Hristos voskrese, radost donese!
Šume šumite, vetri brujite,
Hristos voskrse, radost donese!
Mora gudite, zveri ričite,
Hristos voskrse, radost donese!
Pčele se rojte, a ptice pojte
Hristos voskrse, radost donese!

Anđeli stojte, pesmu utrojte,
Hristos voskrse, radost donese!
Nebo se snizi, zemlju uzvisi,
Hristos voskrse, radost donese!
Zvona zvonite, svima javite,
Hristos voskrse, radost donese!
Slava ti Bože, sve ti se može,
Hristos voskrse, radost donese!
Anđeli stojte, pesmu utrojte,
Hristos voskrse, radost donese!
Nebo se snizi, zemlju uzvisi,
Hristos voskrse, radost donese!
Zvona zvonite, svima javite,
Hristos voskrse, radost donese!
Slava ti Bože, sve ti se može,
Hristos voskrse, radost donese!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Church Family

This is a re-post from last year. This year I was again able to attend the Lamentations Service of Holy Friday. Again I was in awe of the beauty of the words, as well as way we sang them. I hope it doesn't seem like I am critical or diminutive of other churches when I talk about how much I love mine. We're very small, so it's like talking about how I love my own brother, sister, mother, father, child or grandparent when I talk about my brothers and sisters in Christ at St Elizabeth's. It's not a condemnation of anybody else, just a recognition of how super-awesome my own church family is.

---

My husband has been serializing an article in our church bulletin for Orthodox parents on raising children in the Orthodox Church.

It is a thoroughly no-nonsense approach to child-training and the rearing of children to be Orthodox Christians. By "training and rearing" I don't mean the nebulous "moral," "fair to others," and the "doing unto others as you would dooblydoo" found on godless public television and elsewhere. What I am talking about is the raising of children in the Church: being fully mindful of the fasts, head-coverings, standing, sitting, standing, modesty, and how it all involves the submission of the will in an Orthodox context.

On Holy Friday last year, I stood on the "women's side" of the church. As we sang the Lamentations together as a community, I heard only the voices of the women next to me. The melody and the words, as well as my own weariness, brought into perfect clarity the mourning of the myrrh-bearing women as they stood at the tomb of Our Lord. It was a group of sisters, mourning in unison with our saintly sisters, Susanna, Joanna, Mary, Mary, Mary, Martha and Salome.

Something published in the bulletin last week confirmed a notion I have held for a long time. It was this:

But when we go to church, we enter into a bigger community and a larger family. We do not in our churches have family pews, or even stand apart as families, leaving those without families even more alone and isolated. In this context our particular family has less significance, and we adopt all those present as our brothers and sisters, our family, in the Faith. (The Shepherd, Vol. XV, Number 9, p. 17.)

In my early days I would recoil at the words, but recently, "Brothers and Sisters in Christ" has become for me a reality. In Orthodoxy this brotherhood is not a clubbish, sentimental, self-congratulatory exclusivity that looks to the inside. Rather it is a unity that stands together reaching towards one another, towards the outside, and together towards heaven.

C. S. describes it: "though something goes from man to God, yet all, including this something comes from God to man. If he rises, he does so lifted on a wave of the incoming tide of God's love for him. He becomes nothing in that ascension. His love is perfected by becoming, in a sense, nothing. He is less than a mote in that sunbeam, vanishing not from God's sight but from ours and his own, into the nuptual solitude of the Love that Loves Love, and in Love, all things.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Letter 2

Dear A,

I'm glad to be of help. I understand how it is when you get these questions. You know someone doesn't really want to get the whole history of Christianity and the schism and the Orthodox position concerning everything under the sun that makes it distinct from other Christian bodies.

A quick answer I give, if someone asks me how we differ from the Roman Catholics (and the Protestants) is this: Historical Continuity. Even if the person doesn’t have time for a full dissertation, you can give him the basics of Church history, the Schism, and the filioque, which is more than 90% of church-goers know.

The thing about Orthodoxy, in my opinion, that makes it distinctive in modern America, is that we don’t claim to try to recapture or to have recreated a modern version of what we think was First Century Christianity. Nor do we have a guilt complex about our faith statement being “inaccessible” or “outdated” to the young or the modern mind. What Orthodoxy is, is the Church founded by Christ at Pentecost, and led by the Holy Spirit throughout history.

When non-Orthodox make their argument-of-choice against the Virgin Mary, icons, calling no man Father, confession, etc. it’s based upon the mistaken notion that the Church went into limbo after 33 A.D. and these issues were irrelevant to the Early Church.

What we have in Orthodoxy is preeminently Holy Scripture, the Liturgy, the writings of the Church Fathers, and the History of the Church in the lives of its Saints. In the daily readings of the lives of the saints from multiple centuries, we have some being martyred by the iconoclasts, one being boiled in pitch or flayed by a Roman emperor, another being exiled by leaders of a now-debunked heresy, and one or two sometimes reposing peacefully in a quiet village or monastery. Reading these lives makes church history real and imminent, but also personal.

I don’t think it’s necessary (unless you have an aptitude for this kind of thing) to read and to be able to spout off the Orthodox positions on every point of theology a non-Orthodox asks of you. Rather remember and be confident in the fact that the Orthodox Church has continued in unbroken continuity since the Apostles. It is and has been, for lack of a better phrase, alive-and-breathing for almost 2000 years. The best books to read are Bishop Kallistos' The Orthodox Church (for the history), and The Orthodox Way (for theology).

Something you might find easy and helpful is listening to a podcast by Fr John Whiteford on the Protestant perspective of “Sola Scriptura.” It’s an enjoyable and edifying talk on the differences between the Protestant and Orthodox understanding of Scripture.
Here’s a link for the Prologue (I can't find a main page where you select the date, but here's one day).

Let me know if this helps.

BTW we had a lovely visit with Bishop George and the monks from Holy Cross in West Virginia. Here's an excellent video of theirs on living the Christian life.

Some pictures of Bp George's visit are posted in the church photo gallery. More will be put up soon.

Much love,
Matushka

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Letter 1

With my new resolve to talk more about Orthodoxy on my blog I am going to post a reply I made to a friend of mine in a letter regarding a question she encountered about women in the priesthood, and why Orthodoxy doesn't allow it.

My husband has been too busy preparing for the first bishop's visit we've had in almost six years to proof this, but I wanted to post it anyway. I'm sure I'll hear from him if I'm wrong.

* * *

Dear A.

I could research this point, but I imagine you would rather hear from a reformed feminist than a theologian. If that’s the case, here’s my perspective.

I grew up in the Catholic Church in the 70s when the feminist movement was activating itself inside the church. Even the Catholic parish I attended was inarguably modern. It had a rock band choir, weird modern Christian art, as well as women reading in the services, passing out communion, and also acting as altar girls. The latter role wasn’t allowed in the Roman Church till the 90s, but this parish promoted it in the 70s.

While I was told in my Sunday school to memorize this or that point of theology, I remember learning that the Bible didn’t really mean what it said; miracles were easily explained through science; and the Church lacked an enlightened perspective, sensitive to the needs of people, especially women.

I could go through the history that got me to the point at which I realized the whole movement was more patronizing than empowering, but I won’t.

St John Chrysostom says that the priesthood excludes most men and all women. This is to say that the Church doesn’t cavalierly ordain anyone who feels called to lead, or who has a special charism about their ability to sing, preach, or teach in the Church. There is much more to it—and, as many hagiographies tell us, very little of what the Church wants and needs has to do with a man’s
desire to become a priest.

When I chose to become Orthodox, it was to embrace a theology, a worldview, and a state of soul that made me aspire to be worthy of it. I didn’t convert hoping that it would do something to become worthy of making my precious self show up on Sundays.

Seriously, if a woman wants to be a priest, there are plenty of churches that will let her. In fact, there are probably more churches that will let her lead their services than there are not.

With regard to your friend’s point, you answered correctly, I believe. It is about choosing to be a part of a church that requires certain things of you. If you choose to become Orthodox, this is the way things are. If you grow up as an Orthodox Christian, you know this is the way things are. No one is forcing you to stay if you’re ticked off you can’t be a priest.

There are a kazillion points you could make to a feminist. About the veneration of the Theotokos: how she is more prominent than any man other than Christ Himself in the Church. That she “pondered these things in her heart” and didn’t picket to be included among the apostles.

Even among the saints, women saints are venerated equally with men, and perhaps even more so because, being the weaker sex, we aren’t expected to be valiant in battle or courageous under extreme circumstances. When, as numerous women saints and martyrs in the history of the Church have done, we show not only piety and humility in our lives, but courage in the face of adversity and martyrdom, we prove ourselves to be worthy to be called saints and "the pillars of the Church."

Anyway, this is where I am coming from. I’d be happy to continue this conversation if you need clarification. I’m sure Fr Mark would have plenty to add, since he was the one who converted me from feminism. Although, I have to say my conversion wasn’t that difficult, since he was a handsome conservative I knew I wouldn’t be able to flip over to my point of view if I wanted him to marry me.

Let me know how your conversation goes.

All the best,
Matushka
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