Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ninth Visit - Great experice and getting gifts!

My Ninth visit to an Orthodox Church was wonderful!

Today I sat in the back on the left side of the church, instead of my usual front on right side. I did this because I did not want to get into a rut. I arrived early and noticed that Litya was on the table. In past visits, I was too afraid to go up front to receive it and, instead, Tammy would graciously bring some to me. Well, I determined I was going to participate so I went outside where I saw Deacon Ken, who was making some business calls, and I asked him about the proper protocol for receiving the oil upon the head and the bread of fellowship, ect. He explained, I listened and I returned to my seat.

Before Worship began, Ken came in and sat down, his business call done and said he noticed on my blog an entry from Maria had posted in response to my question, how could I incorporate the Liturgy into my daily life…

Maria said...
into daily life? How about the Jesus prayer? Perhaps you can ask
for a chotki/prayer rope?
August 25, 2010 1:01 AM
So Deacon Ken handed me a chotki, (pictured above) and explained how to use it. He says he himself uses it during the Divine Liturgy - listens to the sermon with his mind and prays with his spirit. He said he gives me this chotki “with my blessing”…A blessing from a Deacon from a church that spans 2000 years! Not too shabby.

When the service began, I was really able to enter in. I was less self-conscience and more concerned about worshiping the Triune God. It was this that made Worship so wonderful. Not being concerned on how I look or what others are doing can really help a person have Communion with God.

This wonderful worship experience happened despite three mistakes that transpired during the service. At one point when Fr Gary was reciting a long list of saints, (asking for their intercession) he paused, evidently losing his rhythm but he quickly recovered. At another point when the altar servers were chanting The Trisagion Prayers, they fumbled when they were not sure who was to take the next part, but again, they quickly recovered and lastly a young lady in the choir (who, by the way, has the most beautiful, sweet voice I have ever heard! and when she chants a psalm or a reading, her melodious voice really helps expound the text for me...) Well, she belted out a “Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” but evidently it was a mistake because she stopped before the entire Trinity could be praised. She had an embarrassed smile and the choir director had a smile that says, “Oops, things like this happen.” Again, they all quickly recovered and Fr Gary continued with the prayers.

So why didn’t these mistake distract? I believe it is because I am beginning to be less of an observer and more or a worshipper. It is, in fact, endearing that people can stumble but quickly recover and continue on with worship. I have been to some services where mistakes like that would destroy the whole mood of the congregation but not so here!

A word about the choir before I end. I stand in awe that a group of only six people can produce such a quality, euphonious sound! They are wonderful.

When everyone else went up to receive the Oil from Fr Gary and the Litya from the Altar Servers, I went up, too. I was a bit nervous but as Fr Gary anointed my head with the words "Enjoy the Feast" (or something like that), I kissed his hand which is something that takes getting used to.

After the service ended, Tammy greeted me and asked how I liked the jam. I told her I couldn't open the lid. She told me to bang it with a hammer because it was sealed air tight to preserve it. so I guess I have to find my hammer....

I had to pick up my son from work so I could not stop to chat with everyone.

Now, I have to start using the chotki.


  1. Hi! I read some of your posts on the Orthodox forum. I came to this site just to say hi and wish you good luck. I too am in the process of becoming a catechumen. My local parish is a Greek church. Again, best of luck! Thanks. :)

  2. I have read through some of your posts. We are all converts, either born into Orthodoxy or baptism as an adult. May God give you the strength and will to follow the Truth to Orthodoxy. It is something you will always cherish, no matter where you go or how long you have. I have never once regretted that first time I walked into an Orthodox church and knew that I was in a holy place, before the Burning Bush.

  3. Thanks, D.R., for the well wishes...this certainly is an exciting journey home, isn't it?

  4. Issacherrin,
    That is exactly right! I feel like I am in a holy place before the Burning Bush...and isn't that what church is supposed to be? I have been in many protestant churches, and although, I did "find God" there, there is nothing that compares to Orthodox Worship. It is so God centered and not worried about being seeker friendly...You'll never see people walk into worship with a cup of coffee in their hand like I've seen in some other churches...

  5. If you are able, you should try to plan a trip to Wayne, West Virginia next month. The Hermitage of the Holy Cross (Russian Orthodox) is having their pilgrimage weekend October 2-3. It is one of the beautiful and Holy places I've ever seen! And Pilgrimage Weekend brings so many of the faithful together. I look forward to it every year! I've really enjoyed reading your blog thus far and I pray for you regularly. You are at such a wonderful place in your life right now. Please friend me on facebook. My name Lavenna Ambrosia Stambaugh. Also, here is a link to the monastery:
    If you are unable to make pilgrimage weekend, it is still worth planning a trip. Bishop George, Father Seraphim and all the monks there are so welcoming to guests. Fr. Tikhon likes being able to take my kids to see the goat when we visit :) It is such a blessed place...
    In Christ, Ambrosia

  6. I just ran across your blog today. It's neat watching another Orthodoxy inquirer going through their experiences on a blog. I look forward to following your story.

    Btw, a bottle opener (like for opening glass Coke bottles) works great for opening mason jar canning lids.

  7. Ambrosia,
    The pilgrimage weekend sounds great but I don't think I can make it to west virgina anytime soon and thanks for friending me on Facebook!

  8. Kim,
    Thanks for stopping by and I hope you continue to enjoy my experiences drawing me towards Orthodoxy are so striking that I have to write about it!

    I ended up using a hammer on the lid and that losened it up for me :)

  9. Very interesting blog. There's no way to really explain the Orthodox Christian faith - you can only experience it and that experience will change you continuously if you let it. There is no end to your journey, only the movement ever closer to God.

  10. thank you for your comment. I agree. You have to experience Orthodoxy to really to even begin to understand it...I have been reading about it and listening to podcasts about it for years but it wasn't until I started worshiping at Vespers that I even began to understand...and so the journey continues!