What I learned about the Orthodox church from Pinterest

No, Really. Say what you will about memes. They helped me to find my way toward Orthodoxy.

  1. Bees respect icons and do not build wax combs across them: MYSTAGOGY: The Respect Bees Have For Holy Icons - THIS IS INCREDIBLE! HOW CAN PEOPLE SEE MIRACLES LIKE THIS AND NOT  SEE THE PROOF OF GOD IN OUR WORLD?:
  2. Prostrating is a Christian thing:

Prostrations are a part of Orthodox praxis (Russian Orthodox Christian Pilgrims visiting Jerusalem Israel):

3. Monks and animals go together like PB&J!

Beautiful Mount Athos http://www.travelandtransitions.com/european-travel/:

4. They take scripture serious:

"The more one is united to his neighbor, the more he is united to God." - Dortheos of Gaza:

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5. Orthodox Christians have a great sense of humor:

"Honk Forty Times if You're Orthodox" bumper sticker :): Orthodoxy. For kids who like to stay up all night, drink wine, and play with fire.:

6. God is good and He loves us. (I already knew this but the Orthodox say it in every service. Perhaps so that we do not forget. Especially when we are going through hard times. )

"The Anthropic Principle states that if you were to change the conditions of the universe from what we currently observe, it would make life impossible".:

7. It all began with t he Orthodox Christians after Pentecost; the bible, how services are run, prayer, fasting, etc. It can be exasperating when Protestants ask if we know, Jesus.

Ha ha!:

8. How deep a faith you wish to have is completely up to and reliant upon what you’re willing to give up in, Jesus name. (I knew this too but it seems to be lacking more and more in modern church sermons.)

Free from Passions:

9. It’s okay to acknowledge and venerate, Mary:

Mary is venerated because she is Theotokos. To venerate the Theotokos is an inherent part of rightly believing in the Incarnation of God-Man. To ignore her as Theotokos is to hold a diminished and inadequate understanding of the Incarnation. -Stephen Freeman:

10. Sometimes, the peculiar things you read about being in heaven show up on the walls of the temple… and that’s ok. All Seeing Eye Icon:

11. There is more to fasting than just food:

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Lent:

12. Orthodox Christians know how to celebrate & worship God with all five sense:

The Byzantine style frescos of the new Orthodox church of Omala. Kefalonia, Ionian Islands, Greece.:

Γιατί θυμιατίζουμε στην Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία;:

Cross and candles + + + Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱὲ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με τὸν + + + The Eastern Orthodox Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheEasternOrthodox Pinterest The Eastern Orthodox: http://www.pinterest.com/easternorthodox/ Pinterest The Eastern Orthodox Saints: http://www.pinterest.com/easternorthodo2/:

13. Prayer is a big deal… a BIG deal.

It is of great significance if there is a person in a family who truly prays. Prayer attracts God's grace, and all the family feels it, even those whose hearts have grown cold. Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica:

Someone seriously loves their saints. Add photos of family and friends to remember to pray for them:

 

And more but that’s all for today…

Lord have mercy.

 

 

Encountering the Spirit of God in others

Something amazing happened in Temple today. Aside from the usual wonderment that takes place when one is in the presence of, God.

I had stepped outside to see if my guest had arrived. I keep telling people to come early but…   As I stood  in the parking lot visiting with one of the men who help out in the narthex, two ‘older’ gentlemen- one that appeared to be in his 60’s and the other older but of an indeterminable age, came shuffling across the parking lot. I think they are monks. They did not carry signs that read, ‘Hey! We are monks!’ and I hate to admit it but when the  high priest was talking about them I was asking someone about a mural on the wall. However, they looked like they could be monks, or priests but I’m pretty sure they are monks. The older man was shorter, a bit hunched and needed a walking staff and the other man to assist him in walking. He was very obviously suffering as he walked.  Their progress was slow, my guest was late, service was starting so back inside I went. We get many visitors at our church so I didn’t think too much about it until they entered the nave.

Ka-whoosh! As they shuffled slowly into the room, the atmosphere physically changed. The room seemed unable to contain the presence that was contained within these two men. The spirit of God was so huge in these two, humble men; one shuffling, the other assisting, that you could feel the pressure in the room increase. So much so that my ears felt like they were going to pop. When my guest arrived, I asked her if she felt it too. She said she had. She was venerating icons, felt something behind her, turned and that’s when she saw them.

That’s how I wish to be. So filled with the spirit of God that His presence in me fills a room.

Lord have mercy!

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

monasticclothing

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.