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!

Ebb and flow

... , Quadpartrite VRS, Orthodox Christian Icon - at Holy Trinity Store

One distinct difference between Protestants and Orthodox Christians is this; Orthodox Christians tend to meander, Protestants do not. Nothing is really ever rushed in Orthodox Churches… at least not that I have observed so far.

In the Orthodox church, there seems to be this deep connection & understanding of God being in charge and not needing our help at all… with anything. While many Protestants work themselves up into a frenzy through prayer and worship in the hopes of encountering God and influencing His decisions, the Orthodox seem to step back and have a ‘pray… wait & see’ attitude. This wait & see part has been, for me, an especially tough adjustment. While I have heard many Protestants talk about holding God accountable to the promises mentioned in the bible; Orthodox Christians realize that it is God who is sovereign and Who never forgets. Yes, there are promises from God to us in the bible, but how those promises are manifested, and when, is entirely up to God… not us. God IS good and His timing is perfect. We want what we want when we want it often forgetting, or more accurately refusing, to submit to God fully in all things.

My nephew and husband attended Gr. Vespers on Saturday. While I would have loved for them to have walked out committed catechumens with set dates for their baptisms, I realize those are the desires of my heart but that God takes each person on their own journey into the Orthodox Church and personal encounters with Him.

I am thankful that these two people who are so important to me were even at services. I will do my best to place them into the hands of God, step back, pray… not push.

If you have been doing more pushing than praying lately, why not take a step back and spend more time in front of icons and let God take over? His ways are better than our ways. He is good and He loves us.

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

St. Peter & Paul fast

Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles – Sunday, June 29th
St. Peter (on left) & St. Paul

 

We begin our Apostles’ Fast today and it continues to June 29th. Here are some bible verses to help carry you along:

These are taken from the Orthodox Church in America website. I’d like to focus for a moment on the first scripture listed: 1 Peter 1:3-9. In it we find a promise from God. A promise of eternal salvation. Not a promise to have our best life now full of health, wealth, and beauty. No. Those things are temporary trappings of this world. Such false promises, twisted out of scripture like a corrupted thread from a bundle of wool, entrap people and prevent them from being able to cope when trials come their way.  Writing about such lies as if they were truth sell books. Many, many books but that is all they do, unfortunately. they do not feed believers what they need to grow and mature in Christ. This is the true promise of God; 3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Verse 6 paints a more mature and accurate picture of life on earth; In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,

We are not grieved by various trials because we have done something wrong or because God does not love us. We live in a fallen world and things happen. We must remember to always put our hope in Christ and not in the things of this world which rust & decay and which we cannot take with us when we die.

People often times get so wrapped up in praying for ‘things’ that they forget to pray to ‘The One’. The most important aspect of prayer is to develop a close relationship with God that nothing, and no one can steal from us. Almost 1,000 people died during Ramadan this year. Ramadan is the bloodiest holiday in Islam. A bus load of Christians were shot, one-by-one when they refused to denounce God and their faith.  This was done on their way to a monastery to worship God. God is still good. He is still loving. People are corrupt but if we keep our eyes, and prayers fixed on God, the corruption will not overcome us. What corruption? The temptation of temporary things that appear to be what will save us but in the end, will be our ultimate doom.

We just don’t realize how good we have it right now as Christians in America. No one died yesterday in church just because they were in church. But those days are quickly coming to an end and we are the instruments of our own destruction.

Pray for the safety of Christians around the world and in America.

Pray that the freedom of religion is not further corrupted and that true religious freedom is restored in America.

Pray for the restoration of true family structure and true sexual identity as God made us and not as we remake for ourselves.

If one person in every household were to pray, and refuse to be offended (they became the peacemaker in their homes, offices, schools, etc.) the world would begin, and continue to change for the better. I’ve paraphrased this from the book by Elder Thaddeus of Vetovnica.

These are just a few suggestions of possible prayers during this fast. A fast is not just about the food… it’s about prayer and conversing with God in hopes that we, and the world around us, will begin to change.

Christ is risen!

 

My 1st Great Lent

... : Saint Theophylact of Ochrid-Meatfare Sunday, The Last Judgment
Mural of the Last Judgment.

Kondakion (Tone 1)

When You, O God, shall come to earth with glory,
All things shall tremble
And the river of fire shall flow before Your judgment seat;
The books shall be opened and the hidden things disclosed!
Then deliver me from the unquenchable fire,
And make me worthy to stand at Your right hand, righteous Judge!

I think that perhaps if more non-Orthodox Churches had awesome murals such as this, showing the Last Judgment, more Christians would take their faith serious.

I made my first Koliva for the memorial service our church held on Saturday. I started on Thursday, and finished up decorating them on Saturday morning.

Today is Meatfare Sunday. Then, starting Monday, it’s time to begin fasting. Our first fast category is meat, but eggs and dairy products are permitted, even on Wednesday and Friday.

Here is a fasting schedule taken from the website: http://www.abbamoses.com/fasting.html

First Week of Lent: Only two full meals are eaten during the first five days, on Wednesday and Friday after the Presanctified Liturgy. Nothing is eaten from Monday morning until Wednesday evening, the longest time without food in the Church year. (Few laymen keep these rules in their fullness). For the Wednesday and Friday meals, as for all weekdays in Lent, meat and animal products, fish, dairy products, wine and oil are avoided. On Saturday of the first week, the usual rule for Lenten Saturdays begins (see below).

Weekdays in the Second through Sixth Weeks: The strict fasting rule is kept every day: avoidance of meat, meat products, fish, eggs, dairy, wine and oil.

Saturdays and Sundays in the Second through Sixth Weeks: Wine and oil are permitted; otherwise the strict fasting rule is kept.

Holy Week: The Thursday evening meal is ideally the last meal taken until Pascha. At this meal, wine and oil are permitted. The Fast of Great and Holy Friday is the strictest fast day of the year: even those who have not kept a strict Lenten fast are strongly urged not to eat on this day. After St. Basil’s Liturgy on Holy Saturday, a little wine and fruit may be taken for sustenance. The fast is sometimes broken on Saturday night after Resurrection Matins, or, at the latest, after the Divine Liturgy on Pascha.

Wine and oil are permitted on several feast days if they fall on a weekday during Lent. Consult your parish calendar. On Annunciation and Palm Sunday, fish is also permitted.

We are not only to fast during Lent, but also we are called to increase our prayer life. Prayer and fasting are often mentioned together in the bible as powerful tools against The Enemy, as well as tools intended to draw us closer to God. Lent is not intended as a time of suffering. We are to use it as a time of purification and sanctification. There is a divine, and mystical, purpose to Lent. It is a waste of Lent to merely fast and ‘suffer’ because one is not able to enjoy ‘regular’ eating which I’m sure involves some sort of glutton as we in America are prone to do.

In the churches I grew up in and worshiped in as an adult, protestant churches, not much emphasis was placed on overcoming fleshly desires.  I want to overcome my passions, and food is one of the things I need to overcome. I hope that this Lenten season will be the transformative tool I have been looking for that sets me free. I love that the Orthodox Church provides us with the tools we need to obtain whatever level of sanctification, or asceticism, the Lord has placed within our hearts as our personal goal. Each person’s spiritual walk is individualized but all are pointed toward the same target, sanctification for Eternity with God.

1 Corinthians 10:31English Standard Version (ESV) 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Get back to church

Extreme Humility Icon Orthodox
Icon of Extreme Humility. No one forced Jesus to go through the trials of the cross. He humbled Himself for us. Can we not humble ourselves for Him?

‘I love God, it’s His people I have a hard time being around!’ I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard this phrase spoken from the lips of Christians. going to church is hard. It’s so hard in fact that it’s not a suggestion, but a directive. here is a small collection of bible verse on the topic of assembling together.

Hebrews 10:25 – Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Matthew 18:20 – For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Exodus 20:8 – Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Romans 10:17 – So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

Acts 2:42 – And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Hebrews 13:17 – Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that [is] unprofitable for you.

Also (taken form another website)

Benefits of going to church regularly:

  • During Holy Mass, receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord regularly, brings us into continuous reminder that God is with us and in us. If we believe that, then it has a huge affect on our behavior and mind set.
  • Being with a community of believers is extremely encouraging. When I see fellow believers humble themselves by kneeling or going to receive the Eucharist or giving each other the sign of peace, I feel immense joy and peace. And experiencing this on a regular basis must surely be good for your soul.
  • Hearing the Word of God on a regular basis helps us to obtain the mind of Christ and a healthy Christian worldview.
  • Regular attendance (especially when you don’t feel like it) is like spiritual exercise, training to submit your will to Christ.
  • Consistent attendance makes you more comfortable with the local community of believers and makes it easier for you to fellowship with them.
  • It is a benefit to others because they might find joy in seeing you there.
  • The grace of God trains us to “live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives”.
  • It brings peace and guidance.
  • Regular church, means regular worship, and regular communal prayer.

When we neglect to go to church (especially when we feel that the other people at church are in someway ‘doing it all wrong’) we tend to become our own gods. When we refuse to go to church, we are telling ourselves, and those around us, that we know better than God what is good for us. “I don’t need to go into a building to worship God, I’ll just spend some time in nature. That’s all the ‘god’ I need.’ Well… as lovely as nature is, it is only the created, not the Creator. We are called to worship the Creator in His house. In His temple. Going to church shows obedience to God. It humbles us to be in His presence with other believers. It gives us hope. It strengthens us. It illuminates the dark places  in our hearts & minds, and light chases away darkness. Going to church builds community. Going to church heals. Going to church takes us from the darkness of this world and puts us in the presence of the Lord without distraction. God made us with the need to be with others in holy worship of Him. We are family. We are the body of Christ. Part of your spiritual identity (a large part) is going to church. We cannot be unified in Christ if we never go and fellowship together. If it has been a while since you’ve been to church, it’s time to humble yourself and go back.

Lord have mercy.

A comforting dream

Yesterday was a particularly difficult day. I was trying to decide if I should continue to attend my local Orthodox Church. I asked God for a sign to let me know that what I was doing was ok.  He sent to me a beautiful, comforting dream. I dreamt that I was participating in a Divine Liturgy celebrating Mary. Everything was covered in gold. In the in between spaces of the icons painted on the walls there was gold leaf. Everything that you would normally see as bare wood in a church was covered in gold. It was almost blinding. It was beautiful, warm, inviting and comforting. I’ve decided to continue to go to church.

(Update: I am to be baptized on Pentecost!)

Lord have mercy.

Speculation is the thief of wisdom.

C.S. Lewis wrote in The Last Battle,

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…come further up, come further in!”

romanianmaryicon

A favorite saying of mine is, ‘get your oats fresh’. This means to get your information straight from the horse’s mouth… from the source. Not through friends, family or well meaning lay people in the church.

Previously, in this POST, I wrote about my concerns regarding what I thought was, ‘Mary worship’. To better understand the Orthodox Church, I ordered, and received the book; Welcome to the Orthodox Church, an Introduction to Eastern Christianity written by, Frederica Mathewes-Green. Click LINK to purchase because if you’ve ever had any sort of question about Eastern Orthodox Christianity, I’m certain this book will answer it. I’m on page 55 out of 361 and already my eyes have been opened to the truth. Historical truths about the origins of the early church. Truths about the icons, Mary, and the saints. Wisdom casts out fear and ignorance. Two things about the Orthodox Church I had been unnecessarily carrying around. I’m so glad that I decided to investigate things further instead of just following the words of ex-Catholic friends and family who associate Eastern Orthodox Christianity with Catholicism.

As I read, Mrs. Green’s most excellent book, I feel as though I can ear her voice speaking to me with love and warmth about something dear to her heart. You can tell by her words, how she explains the ins-and-outs of Orthodoxy, that she truely has a deep, and abiding love for God, and His church; as well as a deep desire for others who are seeking to find the answers to their questions.

I’m new to the Orthodox ‘Way’. I grew up in churches without icons or murals. Yes, my childhood church had crosses on the walls and handmade banners commemorating feasts and holidays, but compared to an orthodox church it looked bare. I love that I can walk into an orthodox church and experience God without the priest saying a single word. There, on the walls are bible stories, and the saints we read about when we open our bibles. In this crazy world full of violence and death, the more time I can spend in the presence of God the better, and I’m not just talking about reading His Word, but experiencing it through visual reminders seen on the church walls and the icons presented on altars. His beauty, reflected back to me through the icons, candles, incense, etc., has given me a sense of peace and joy I have not felt in a long time. I’m sure I’m not the only person out there in need of some peace and joy. Some comfort please to help alleviate this deep set weariness that comes not from physical exhaustion but spiritual turmoil caused by what is going on in our world, in our nation, in our cities and in our neighborhoods.

If you are in need of spiritual beauty, perhaps it is time to turn off the news, go to church, and light a candle. While you are there, say a prayer for me? I’ll be praying for you.

Lord have mercy.