On head covering

inheadcoveringdoc

I don’t know of any other topic in all of Christiandom that is more talked about… or misunderstood. If there is any other topic that elicits such a range of emotional response as head covering, I do not know what it would be.

Veiled Christian Women - YouTube

First of all there is the confusion as to its origin. When my nephew came to church HERE he asked, ‘What’s with the head coverings? Is that a Muslim thing?’. Sigh… no it is not a, ‘Muslim thing’. Islam did not come around until 300-400 years AFTER Christianity got its start at Pentecost. The origins of head covering are found in Judaism. Paul had been a Jewish leader before his conversion to Christianity. He had intimate knowledge of every law and custom. While some argue that head covering was a cultural standard for women in ancient times and not for women today, it does have a place in modern Christianity.

I began my research on head covering about 4-5 years ago. I had read a comment on a blog about how Christians pick and choose which bible verses they will follow, and if we were against some things because the bible said not to do them then why did we not do other things, such as head covering, which the bible tells us to do? While it is clear the individual who wrote that comment had no understanding of free will, it did get me thinking about head covering, and there began my journey.

At the beginning of this article you will find a link to an article on head covering written by a Jewish Rabbi. I hope it opens for you. It contains information I have never found on any Christian website or video that talks about head covering. Also, I cannot find this article any more on the Net. Maybe you can. I downloaded in onto my computer years ago and it is an invaluable tool. I believe one of the reasons why the bible verse about it is so confusing is because we lack the oral history that pertains to head covering. Because it is something that, Paul had to tell Christians to do, I think it would be a logical conclusion to say that it was not widely practice among pagans which would have been the primary converts to Christianity at the time Paul wrote to remind women to cover and why. Head covering, and the reasons why, would have been a part of daily life for Jewish women. Most of them would have known why they were to cover. Where scripture falls off about it, oral tradition would have carried on like a torch passed down from mother to daughter over centuries. Let’s take a look at the scripture, see what it has to say about head covering and then try to figure out why, Paul said nothing more in regards to covering ‘because of the angels’.

KANDYLAKI: AN EXEGESIS ON WOMEN’S HEAD COVERINGS

1 Corinthians 11:5-

5And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for it is just as if her head were shaved. 6 If a woman does not cover her head, let her hair be cut off. And if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 7A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man 8For man did not come from woman, but woman from man. 9Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10For this reason a woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels…

Ok, Paul. What about the angels? I wonder if he left out details explaining about the need to cover, ‘because of angels’ because they were such a well known factor of everyday life at that time that what people needed to know was SO well known he had no need to expand upon his statement? I do see where science has convinced many people that such spiritual encounters are not what we should know them to be. We as Christians should be used to such things but many are still doubtful regarding spiritual encounters. They are dismissed or over looked. such things are explained away and if you believe in them then you are the odd ball. Clearly, Paul had personal experience and wise advice regarding angelic encounters. While the bible tells us that the kingdom of heaven is not about miracles, I do believe we would be wise in not dismissing spiritual encounters, or ignoring biblical advice on how to protect ourselves regarding unseen beings.

There is quite a bit being written about head covering. I personally believe that there is a great deal of confusion about it with most of the confusion centering around the verse pertaining to the angels. First let us clear up one important misconception about head covering… head covering is NOT about the oppression, and subjugation of women, by their husbands. Head covering is about revealing the God-given authority of women; to the world around them, their husbands, other men, and the angels.

Women have the right to pray and prophesy publicly. Their head covering shows those around them, seen and unseen beings, that they have been given this gift by God who protects them through their head covering. Yes, it is right for women to head cover when praying at home alone, but it is especially important for us to do so when in public. In his article, Ye’hosheba tells us that when Paul talks about the angels he is talking about good angels, and bad angels. The good angels see the woman praying with her head covered and listen all the more attentively to her prayers because they see her as a woman who understands her God-given authority. ‘She means business how can we help her more?’ Evil angels, those who are the minions of Satan, see a covered woman praying and avoid her. ‘This woman knows her authority! We cannot prevail against her she is too strong. Let us go find one who is weak (uncovered) and see if we can destroy her.’.

Ladies… head covering is a big deal. Do not allow anyone to talk you out of it or try to embarrass you because you practice this important, outward expression of your authority. Once, when I was still a Protestant groping in the dark and trying to figure out head covering, I wore my cover to church.  The pastor of that church did not pull me aside to discuss privately why I covered. Instead, he stood right in front of me and preached a sermon against the practice of covering. Subtle. I hold no grudge against him for it. What he did only served to help me find a place where the practice of head covering would be more readily accepted and encouraged. Hello Orthodox Christianity.

Head covering is part of the armor that I put on when I pray and worship. I would feel, ‘out of uniform’ and unprotected if I were to enter temple without it or pray uncovered. I have had many strange, and wonderful, experiences through head covering. Each one serving to solidify my understanding of the importance of covering.

My dear sisters in Christ, if you have been struggling with head covering you are not alone. If you would like to have a safe place where you can discuss the struggles of head covering, please consider joining this Yahoo group that I have created: OCWWC. I believe head covering can heal, empower, show leadership, and in many ways enrich the lives of women. It is uniquely our weapon given to us by God. So-much-so that even the priest must remove HIS head covering before carrying out certain rites and rituals during liturgy. Please, do not allow head covering to be the thing that trips you up as you walk out your sanctification.

God grant you many years!

Sola scriptura does not exist

Could you be a Christian without the bible?

... keep silence or talk about ordinary things elder thaddeus of vitovnica

I am currently reading several books written by Orthodox ancient fathers. One of which is; Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives by, Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica. An amazing man of God who details for us how to walk out the love of Christ in our everyday lives, to everyone around us. His words are loving, hard and yet easy. That is one of the beautiful things about Orthodox Christianity, there are multiple truths. It is hard to walk out love if we try to do it in our flesh, but so easy to do when we die to ourselves and let God truly take over and lead us. This is just a tiny blurb about his book which includes a mini biography of this incredible man who was so at peace the little birds would fly to his chest, land, and eat the crumbs out of his beard that ended up there after a meal. I want that kind of peace in my life. His book is a spiritual road map to the land of internal peace according to the word of God. How does this relate to sola scriptura? Keep reading, please.

One of the main (read tired old) arguments that Protestants try to use against Orthodox Christianity is that they believe we all should be able to read the bible without any outside assistance because Holy Spirit will illumine us and help us with anything we do not understand. If that were true for them, there would not exist; Mathew Henry’s Commentary or the myriad of Christian bookstores. Also; Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Joel Olsteen and a host of other Christian writers would be out of jobs. Some Protestant writers develop bible studies. Why? If they truely believed in sola scripture (which, ironically, is not actually IN the bible) there would be no need for any Protestant to write anything and yet they too have their own versions of ancient fathers and mothers. Corrie ten Boom, Smith Wigglesworth, Watchman Nee, etc..

The real truth is that, while Protestants have their writers, for some reason they think it is wrong that Orthodox Christians have our own. I believe they do not like it because our writers are not their writers, but also because our writers talk about this life, and the life hereafter in a way that does not line up with the heretical teachings found in Protestantism. The writings of the ancient fathers focus largely on our inner conflict between our flesh & the Spirit of God, which we will submit to and allow to lead us through life. when I read the writings of the lives of those who have gone on this path before me, I receive comfort and guidance knowing that although these people lived in like-minded communities, they still had to struggle through life & many of the same issues we as Christians struggle with outside of monastic life. Struggle with loving those around us, being obedient, living below our means, relying on God to fill our plates, keep us healthy. Some ancient fathers and monastics struggle with severe mental and physical ailments. One father in particular said, ‘if you can live with the pain and suffering, do not pray for God to deliver you from your affliction!’.  Quite different, and more difficult to hear, than the message from Protestant writers.

There is a part of me that wants to open a big orthodox Christian book store here in town. There is already a small one connected to a coffee shop that is also a missions. They serve coffee and ancient wisdom… love it! On Friday nights, our head priest is behind the counter slinging coffee & food. He sets the example for the rest of us on walking out the word of God.

If you are someone who has hopped onto the ‘sola scriptura’ band wagon, I challenge you to look around your house and count how many books about God and Christianity you have that are not the actual bible. Why do you have them and how have they enriched your life? As with anything we read, even the bible, it only works if we do what is written on the page. Love your neighbor, yes even the one that does whatever it is that upsets you. Speak kind words to everyone around you and consider others better than yourself. Forgive, forgive, forgive. I only have to deal with rude, inconsiderate people while some of the Orthodox writers have had to forgive those who tortured them and held them in prison for many years. Do you want God to forgive your sins? Then you must forgive the things other people do to you. True deep forgiveness. None of this, ‘I’ll forgive but I’ll never forget!’ nonsense. Jesus forgives AND forgets!! So too must we do the same.

Sola scriptura does not exist. It is a lie from the enemy to keep those who would become Orthodox Christians from doing so. It is such a feeble excuse. The bible came along 300-500 years after the Orthodox Church was started. Holy tradition, and the stories about those who went before them, was all the early Christians had to guide them on how to live a Christian life. Then, they wrote the bible and now modern churches claim to be based on the bible but they look nothing like the ancient, and original church.

BY M. D. TALBOT.       LETTER I. TO THE LORD BISHOP OF EXETER. cont     4th. Luther with his Consubstantiation, setting aside tradition, wo...

If you would like to visit my Pinterest board for more Orthodox wisdom and humor you may do so by following this LINK but remember, it too violates the sola scripture fairy tale.

Lord have mercy.

 

 

Appearance of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God

Commemorated on June 26

According to ancient tradition, the wonderworking icon of Tikhvin is one of several painted by Saint Luke the Evangelist. The icon was taken from Jerusalem to Constantinople in the fifth century, where it was enshrined in the Church of Blachernae, which was built especially for this purpose.

In 1383, seventy years before the fall of Constantinople at the hands of the (Muslims) Turks, fishermen on Lake Ladoga in the principality of Novgorod the Great witnessed the icon miraculously hovering over the lake’s waters amid a radiant light. According to an early sixteenth century Russian manuscript, “The Tale of Miracles of the Icon of the Tikhvin Mother of God,” the Theotokos herself decided that her image should leave Constantinople, perhaps in anticipation of the impending fall of the Byzantine Empire.

Shortly after its miraculous appearance, the icon was discovered in several neighboring towns, including the village of Motchenitsy on the bank of the Tikhvinka River, before it finally appeared near the town of Tikhvin. A wooden church dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos was built on the site of the icon’s final resting place. Miraculously, the icon survived a number of fires.

In the early sixteenth century, through the zeal of Great Prince Basil Ivanovich, a stone church was built to replace the original wooden structure. In 1560, by order of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, a men’s monastery was established near the church and enclosed with a stone wall.

In 1613-1614, the Swedish army, having seized Novgorod, made several attempts to destroy the monastery. The countless prayers offered to the Theotokos before the icon were heard, and the monastery was spared. On one occasion, after monks had been alerted to the approaching Swedish army, they decided to flee and to take the icon with them. But the monks soon discovered that they could not remove the icon from its shrine. Seeing this as a sign of the Theotokos’ protection, the monks decided not to abandon the monastery, begging the Theotokos to spare them and their beloved spiritual home. To their amazement, a large Muscovite army appeared to defend the monastery.

When the Swedes encountered the army, they retreated immediately. Word of this miracle spread rapidly, and imperial emissaries soon visited the monastery. Accompanied by a copy of the wonderworking icon, they set off for the village of Stolbovo, 33 miles from Tikhvin, where they concluded a peace treaty with the Swedes on February 10, 1617. Afterwards, the copy of the icon was taken to Moscow and enshrined in the Kremlin’s Dormition Cathedral. Later, the same icon was placed in the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) cathedral in Novgorod at the request of the city’s faithful, who also found themselves under attack by the Swedes. Once again, through the intercession of the Theotokos, the city was spared.

Over the centuries, the icon’s fame spread far and wide. Copies of the wonderworking icon began to adorn churches throughout the land. Some of these copies also proved to be sources of miracles, and it was not uncommon to find the faithful praying before the icon to seek healing for children who were ill.

No fewer than 24 processions with the icon were celebrated each year at the Tikhvin Monastery, where the icon was enshrined. A decorative cover, or “riza,” adorned the icon, exposing only the faces and hands of the Holy Virgin and Christ child. Numerous precious stones studded the riza, and many of the faithful, desiring to express thanksgiving for prayers answered through the Theotokos’ intercession, affixed precious jewelry to the riza.

Most miraculous is the fact that the icon was preserved from destruction or sale after the Russian Revolution, which ushered in a 74-year persecution of the Church. During the 1920s, the communist government demanded that the Russian Orthodox Church turn over countless icons and other precious liturgical items, which through the nationalization of private property were considered the property of “the people.” Many of these sacred items were sold, allegedly to raise money to feed the Russian and Ukrainian population which was afflicted by famine.

During the World War II German occupation, the Nazis removed the icon from the Tikhvin Monastery, from where it was taken to Pskov and subsequently to Riga, Latvia. When the city was evacuated, Bishop John [Garklavs] of Riga, in whose care the icon was placed, took the icon to Bavaria, where it was venerated by Orthodox faithful who had been displaced because of the war. While Soviet agents had spotted the icon, Bishop John was permitted to take the icon to the United States in 1949, under the pretext that the icon in his care was a reproduction, the work of a simple monk, and that it was of little historic or monetary value. Shortly after his arrival in the United States, Bishop John, who was later elevated to the rank of Archbishop, was elected to oversee the Diocese of Chicago, and the icon was regularly displayed and venerated in Chicago’s Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Bishop John frequently took the icon on pilgrimage to various places throughout the United States and Canada. After his retirement in the late 1970s and death on Palm Sunday in 1982, Archpriest Sergei Garklavs, Bishop John’s adopted son, became the caretaker of the icon. In 2003, over a decade after the fall of communism and the resurrection of the Russian Orthodox Church, the decision was made to return the precious icon to its original home.

The icon began its year-long journey to Russia at the 99th annual Pilgrimage to Saint Tikhon Monastery, South Canaan, Pennsylvania, May 23-26, 2003. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, together with members of the Holy Synod of Bishops and guest hierarchs, greeted the icon, which was available for veneration by the faithful.

The icon follows the “Hodigitria” model and is similar in style to the ancient Iveron icon of Our Lady. It differs in that the Christ child’s legs are crossed, while the sole of His foot is turned to the viewer. Several historic sources note that several other Hodigitria icons of the Theotokos had been brought to Russia in the 1380s, during the rule of the saintly prince Demetrius Donskoy.

— Archpriest John Matusiak

1st Sunday after Pentecost

allsaintsicon
All saints icon.

Here is a bit of what was sung in church last night. Incredibly moving. I could barely get through it.

The Savior’s inspired Disciples

became instruments of the Spirit through faith.

They were scattered to the ends of the earth,

sowing the glad tidings of the true faith.

From their divine garden the army of martyrs blossomed in grace.

They became images of Christ’s saving Passion,

enduring every kind of torture, scourging, and fire.//

Now they boldly pray for our souls.

v. (3) For with the Lord there is mercy and with Him is plenteous redemption, and He will deliver Israel from all his iniquities.

The noble martyrs, burning with love of the Lord,

laughed at the fires and were consumed as burning coals.

Through Christ, they burned the withered arrogance of error.

They stilled the roaring of beasts with the voice of their prayers.

Beheaded, they decapitated the demonic hosts.//

By the shedding of their own blood they watered the Church with faith.

v. (2) Praise the Lord, all nations! Praise Him, all peoples!

The heroic martyrs wrestled with beasts and were torn by their claws.

They were dismembered, slashed with swords, and shot with arrows;

they were consumed in the flames and pierced with lances.

All this they willingly endured,

for already they saw their unfading crowns, and the glory of Christ,//

before Whom they boldly pray for our souls.

v. (1) For His mercy is abundant towards us; and the truth of the Lord endures for ever.

Come, let us praise the heroes of our faith:

Apostles, martyrs, holy priests, and noble women!

They fought for the faith in every part of the earth.

Though born of earth, they were united with the heavenly hosts.

Through their sufferings, they triumphed over evil by the grace of Christ.

As unfading lights, they illumine our hearts,//

and with boldness they pray for our souls.

Fr. Lazarus and the desert monks of Egypt-pray for them!

Father Anthony El Lazarus
Fr. Lazarus. A desert monk living in Egypt in the mountains above St. Anthony’s monastery.

when I began my journey that lead me to Orthodox Christianity, one of the things that influenced me was the life of, Fr. Lazarus. I watched his documentary several times. I was truely amazed at his transformation from atheist to devout monk. His sweet spirit shone through even past the camera lens. These monks go about doing their thing; praying, fasting, worshiping, etc., not knowing if what they do is impacting anyone’s life. Thousands of miles away, in America, here I am watching videos about them and thinking, ‘Whatever it is they have, it’s missing from the Christian walk and I want it!’. I did more, and more research until I found what I was looking for which lead me to my new parish home. Now, these monk’s lives, and more, are being threatened by, ISIS. Some monasteries have already been destroyed. The bodies of saints have been desecrated and the monastery walls bulldozed to the ground. Centuries of history wiped out in a single day by mad men.

Please join me in praying for the protection of these, and other holy sites.  Whether or not you realize it, our Christian heritage is being erased. YOUR Christian heritage is being erased. Tombs of saints we read about in the bible are now gone. Ancient places of worship no longer exist. People are dead and dying. Lord have mercy. Please pray!

How to behave at a monastery

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Unless they make a study of it, most protestants have no clue about what goes on inside the walls of a monastery. As our society becomes more and more casual in everyday encounters; people wearing their pajamas out in public, or wearing sweat pants to the opera and calling strangers by their first names instead of, ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’ visits to holy places (and this includes your local Orthodox temple) can easily become places where etiquette faux pas abound and flat out rude behavior may be acknowledge, by the offender themselves although not corrected, while the offender is in the midst of said behavior.

Before you head out to the local monastery, here are some things to keep in mind that will make your intrusion into the quiet lives of those within the hollowed walls easier for the monks and nuns you visit to endure. If you are not in a place in your Orthodox journey to where you can submit yourself to all of these rules, please refrain from visiting any monastery until you can be respectful enough to fully submit.

  1. Dress appropriately. Long skirts and closed toed shoes, ladies. Also, headcoverings are mandatory as are long sleeves and high necks on your collars. Men, wear slacks not shorts and closed toed shoes. Long sleeve shirts, please. also for men and women, please no printed t-shirts with offensive words. Remember, just because it doesn’t offend you doesn’t necessarily mean it is not offensive to those around you.
  2. BE QUIET! Speak in low tones. Think golf tournament announcer and then try to speak in softer tones than they do. 2b. SILENCE YOUR CELL PHONE. There is nothing more important going on in your life than what is going on around you when you are in the presence of God.
  3. Call before you go to the monastery to see if your visit is coming at a good time for the residents of the monastic community.
  4. Bring gifts; leave money. Monasteries run on outside support as well as what they can sell. many raise and grow their own food but they still need cash to pay their utility bills just like you do. On a side note; in December of 2016, I wrote an article; Leave Your Protestantism at the Door.  It was originally intended for the protestant convert new to Orthodoxy but after a conversation with the Mother at the monastery, I’m addressing it to former protestants who find themselves in leadership and or priestly roles in Orthodox Churches. When I was a protestant, I sat through MANY sermons on tithing. One main themes was’ give bread where you’re fed’. Okay… for an Orthodox Christian, that can also mean tithing to a monastery, not just to church. You see, the bible never states to which institution one is to tithe, only that we are to tithe. The Lord may, and often does, move a perosn to tithe to a monastery. Monasteries, as I said, are a foreign concept to protestants so we may not always understand how important of a role they play in the development of a Christian’s spiritual life. IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT THAT PARISHIONERS SUPPORT THEIR LOCAL MONASTERY AS MUCH AS THEY CAN!! Go to the monastery on work days and help out. Go when it’s not a work day and help however you’re asked. But whenever you go to the monastery, LEAVE SOME MONEY WITH THEM WHEN YOU LEAVE! Go with the intent to give a financial blessing. If there is a bookstore, buy something. You don’t always have to buy books off the internet. Call ahead and ask if you can bring any food or supplies. Be a blessing, not a burden.
  5. Be obedient. Do what your told and ask permission always.
  6. make sure your children are well behaved enough to be in a monastic setting. Many children are not taught to be quiet and respectful these days. parents let them get away with much too much. Churches and monasteries are holy places. Children learn how to behave in special settings from their parents. it begins by praying at home and making sure children understand that this is something different… something special. Children want to please those around them, especially their parents and they are eager to learn. Help them fit in a to be welcomed in new settings by teaching them how to behave properly right at home. Set a side a prayer time with your children where they must be quiet. In crease the time they must be quiet and SIT STILL. Reward and punish as appropriate.
  7. Do not touch the monks or nuns. (I did this today and learned it’s a MAJOR no-no to hug a nun!) oops!
  8. Don’t stay too long. Remember, monks and nuns live where they live to serve God, live in peace and quiet and to pray (they are even praying for you!). So make sure you do not take up too much of their time when you visit.

You may have come from a protestant background but that doesn’t mean your mind must stay there. Lay people as well as priests must put aside their protestant ways and fully embrace Orthodoxy if it is to work in their lives as it is intended. If you became an Orthodox Christian to ‘fix’ the Orthodox system, you’ve come into it for all the wrong reasons. You will most likely fail as an Orthodox Christian and if you’re in leadership, you will also fail your parishioners, as well as the monastery your church is supposed to be supporting.

When converting from Protestantism to Orthodoxy,  I decided I would be, ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’. I would embrace it fully or not even bother. You cannot serve two masters. Trying to be a Protestant Orthodox Christian will not work. Your attempts at ‘kicking at the goads’  is not going to change a system that is over two thousand years old. They have come across tougher opposition than American Protestants… and won. Time and again they have won.

Visit the monasteries, tithe where the LORD tells you to tithe and be at peace with your decision no matter what opposition you face.

St. Patrick’s Day 3/17/2017

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Although it is not officially until march 17 that St. Patrick is celebrated, let’s talk about him a bit shall we? Today, my city is hosting their annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. If I had not messed up my knee yesterday, I just might have attended the celebration. Something I never would have done before I started my journey into Orthodox Christianity.

I never used to give, St. Patrick much thought before I became an Orthodox Christian. like most ‘good’ Protestants, the celebration of saints was something, ‘those other people did’. I never wore green and I dared anyone to be foolish enough to pinch me. To my protestant eyes, St. Patrick’s Day was just another excuse for people to get drunk and behave badly. It didn’t really seem to mean much to those who celebrated it beyond green beer and kissing. I always thought of him as a Catholic/Irish saint and I was neither Catholic… nor Irish. Why celebrate him? Turns out, St. Patrick is an Orthodox Christian saint. No, really. Read about him HERE.

A couple of years ago, before I began my Orthodox journey, I watched an animated movie; The Secret of Kells. It is a movie about the illuminated manuscript of the four gospels. It sparked two things within me; 1. the desire to learn more about calligraphy & illuminated manuscripts, 2. I became intrigued by the passion of people to create such a beautiful work of art & to die/risk their lives to protect it. Such passions are not ignited within the context of evangelical/charismatic circles. It’s as if these sects of Protestantism have no history to celebrate; no examples to read about, and to be encourage by, in one’s walk of faith. At least… not openly.

In the Orthodox Church, the lives of saints are read, studied, and celebrated in an effort to emulate these pillars of Christianity. Growing up in Protestantism, it was almost like a treasure hunt to try and find people of valor to read about, that is how deep the fear of saint/icon worship runs within these communities.

St. Patrick was kidnapped and taken into slavery at the young age of 16. How terrifying to be separated from friends, and family and not to know from one day to the next if he would be killed. He finally escaped and made it back to his home. Instead of returning years later and burning down the villages where he was once held captive and/or killing the inhabitants, he evangelized Ireland bringing to its people the Light of God. Talk about loving one’s enemies.

I am so thankful that I have begun my journey into Orthodox Christianity. I had an inkling of the darkness of Protestantism while I was still a Protestant (things said from the pulpit (that there is even a pulpit) and done within the church, were not aligning with scripture). However, one has no concept of how dark darkness truly is until they step into the light.

I now know how much of church history has been lost within Protestantism simply by ignoring saints. So many questions are answered when one studies the saints. How do I pray? How can I live a more ascetic life? Look to the saints. In Protestantism, only what, Jesus did is considered worthy of study. What, Jesus did was amazing and is of course worthy of study and emulation. As the Son of God, what, Jesus did was perfect and without blemish. The saints give us an example of how we can overcome the passions of the flesh, of this world, from the perspective of ones who are themselves imperfect.

When I’m having a particularly bad day, I look at St. Ignatius and I think, ‘yes, I’m having a bad day, but at least lions are not chewing on my bones’.

stignatius
St. Ignatius being chewed on by lions. When the lions were done, his friends gathered up his bones out of the arena.

St. Patrick is perhaps the most well known of saints. He is even known by those who are not religious due to the, almost, world wide celebration of him once a year. If you want to know more about the Orthodox Church before actually stepping inside of an Orthodox Church, start reading about the saints. You can head over to the websites of the Orthodox Church in America or, the Orthodox Christian Network for daily information about which saints are being remembered. I encourage you, no matter what your religious background, to find out more about the early Christian Church and the saints who lived and died for her.

32nd Sunday after Pentecost

I had not been able to go to church for just over a week. I went to Gr. Vespers last night. The joy in my heart at being in church felt as though I was  greeting a friend I had not seen for months, not days. There is so much joy, peace, and refreshment waiting for me in church.

There was a young man there last night; attending for the first time. I’m nosy. I asked him what drew him to the church. I knew it was his first time because of how he was dressed and because he was carrying his bible. I’m not saying Orthodox persons do not, or cannot dress up for church. He just looked more like a deacon in a baptist church than an orthodox parishioner. He struggled a bit for his words when I asked him what drew him here, to Holy Theophany. I think perhaps his first Orthodox service was a bit overwhelming? What I did hear was that he was not raised in a religious family. He had not grown up going to church (so sad!). He was looking for more substance, more sobriety in worship and reverence in interaction with God (I’m paraphrasing as I do not recall his actual words but it is the same kind of thread I see running through many converts to the Orthodox faith… we’re fed up with the circus that many churches have become and yearn for piety. Piety from our leaders, piety from other congregants, piety within ourselves. More dogma, less foofoowawa.). I pray he finds what he is looking for, Lord have mercy.

Today is the 32nd Sunday after Pentecost.  One of the persons being honored today is; Hieromartyr Ignatius the God Bearer. Cool name, huh? Yeah, he was eaten by lions. Yikes!!

ignatius

http://www.holyassumption.net/files/bulletins/archive/2012/Jan-29-2012-33afpent.pdf

The link I just provided is to another church’s bulletin from 2012 explaining about Ignatius. After last night’s mini-sermon given by Ft. Moses, and seeing this icon and reading about Ignatius, I have to wonder- what do we consider to be suffering to we who are present day Christians? Fr. Moses was talking about Orthodox fathers being held in prisons and internment camps. They endured great suffering and many would have gone back (some prayed to be sent back!) so that they could continue to suffer. Why? Why would someone pray for something that seems so crazy? Suffering and persecution on purpose? They said it was because Prior to, and after their captivity they never prayed the way they prayed while in prison and felt closer to God in that setting.

When our lives are going well, how much do we really pay attention to God? When our lives are going through storms, do we not find ourselves praying more, and more fervently? I hope I never have to endure what these fathers and monks went through in order to have a deeper and more meaningful prayer life. I have, however, found comfort and encouragement from the stories of the martyrs and now, I have St. Ignatius to add to my mental library when times are tough. I’ll say, ‘hey, this is hard but at least lions are not chewing on my bones!’.

My prayer for you, for all those who are seeking something more substantial is that you will give the Orthodox church a try. At least for a year. Cycle through all the feast, and fasts. Learn about the saints, ancient fathers, martyrs, and everyone else in this wonderful, amazing mix of people who make up The Church; past, present, and those who are yet to walk through our doors but whom God already knows are on their way.

Lord have mercy.

What I’m reading this month

Orthodoxy is a wild journey with a beautiful destination; Eternity in the Presence of God.

For someone who did not grow up in the Orthodox Church, I have a steep learning curve. As I mentioned before HERE, I did not grow up venerating icons and Mary was especially taboo. I’ve been listening to podcasts about, Mary on the Ancient Faith website and it’s helping quite a bit. I’ve also requested several books from my local library and from the Inter Library Loan system or, ILL. One that came in recently is: The Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God. Another book I checked out from my local library is; Sacred Doorways: A Beginner’s Guide to icons, and lastly; Thirty Steps to heaven.

I also have coming a couple of books about the Orthodox teachings on psychology.

If you were not aware of it, there is a system for checking out books from other libraries around the US if your library doe snot carry a particular title. Your library may or may not have it, you’ll need to ask them about the ILL system.

It’s always a good idea to do your own research whenever possible and within reason. What’s ‘within reason’ mean? There will be times when you’ve reached the end of the research road. When that happens, one must trust in the knowledge of those who have gone on before down the same road. Western minds believe in reinventing something when they feel it no longer applies to them or their lifestyle choices. Heresy in the church comes form within the church and not from outside the church. It comes when we try to convince ourselves we can conform God to our will and not ourselves to His. When reading and researching the ancient church and church fathers, try not to talk yourself out of the wonderment of God. Be childlike. Be in awe of the One who created you.

Lord have mercy.

What does this mean?

I’ve been ordering study materials off of Amazon to help me understand Orthodoxy better. I’m researching icons and the meaning behind; this and that. One item I thought was particularly interesting was this cross.

San Damiano Crucifix from Monastery Icons

It is quite colorful. Everything about it tells us a story about the passion of Christ. It circles back around from the foretelling of what is to come; the angels holding the items to be used in the crucifixion of Christ are also featured in the icon of Mary; ‘Our Lady of Perpetual Help’. Since these instruments of the crucifixion are held in the hands of angels, we are shown that this is in the hands of God, not men. I’m going to stop right there and not tell you more about it because discovering these truths for ourselves is so much more powerful than having them spoon fed to us. Please click on this LINK to read more about the imagery used on this icon. This cross, in any size, would make a great gift this Christmas/Nativity season. It’s so easy to just give mindlessly during the holidays. As Christians, it is wholly appropriate to give gifts during the holidays that represent, and help us to reflect on, who Christ is, what He did for us, and that will help us draw nearer to Him- and thus further away from the destructive things of this world.

I am not receiving any sort of kickback from Amazon, or this website, by promoting this cross. I just think it would make a lovely gift for so many people for so many reasons. When I give them this year, I’m going to include the information on what the symbols mean so that those who receive them can have a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and what He has and still is, doing for us.

Eight inch cross for wall-LINK

Three and four eighths inch cross necklace (or can hang in car, office cubicle, etc.) LINK

Nine inch cross on stand LINK

Some of the crosses full depict every image on the Brigantine cross mentioned at the beginning of this article, some do not. I believe, however, that any of them would a blessing to the receiver as well as the giver.