Tuesday, November 16, 2010

14 visit! Back in the swing of things!

my wife Karen and I during the Veteran's Day parade in NYC two years ago.

After a three week absence, it was good to be back. I walked in, decided to grab a service book and sat in the back. I was originally opposed to using the book, afraid that I might “read ahead” instead of live in the moment of worship. (I usually do that when I go to my protestant church- during the sermon or at anytime really, I get distracted by reading) But I thought it would be a good idea to participate by singing along with the Psalms, ect. I was always impressed how some there would sing along, all from memory. Reader John comes to mind. He has memorized so much of the Vespers service that he is able to sing, do metanies, and worship with his whole being, without being distracted by a book. That, of course, comes from years of practice. If I want that, I have to start singing along , too and to do that I have to “know the lyrics.”

Father Gary gave a homily on the life of St. Philip. That particular saint I invoke every day (at least on the days I pray in the morning) because he is one of the patrons of “The fellowship of St. John the Divine” whose prayer book I use. (The other patron is St. John). I really hadn’t known much about Philip, other than what I had read in the Gospels. But Father Gary called upon Church Tradition and I learned several things about him that I had not known before. You see how much information and encouragement the Protestants miss but rejecting Tradition? St. Philip, pray for me!

At the end of the service, I grabbed Bill, the altar server, who is also in the Civil Air Patrol and gave him all of my BDU uniforms. I won’t need them anymore because, not only am I retired but that uniform is being phased out in favor of the ABU. You can see a picture above of me in a BDU uniform so you can know what they (and I) look like. I told Bill he has to take off all the name tapes, rank ect and he said, no problem. He was especially happy that he got a liner for his jacket. He must have had some cold days without it!

I rushed out of there in order to meet my wife and pick up the kids. Before I did, Deacon Ken said, “Well done good and faithful servant, in reference to my retirement. (He gave the same greeting on facebook). I do wish I didn’t have to rush out all the time. It will be hard to make friends, if I don’t spend time talking.


  1. I'm not convinced this is a picture of you. It does not match the drawing in your profile. Though, it's hard to be conclusive, because of the hat... :)

    I almost always pick up one of the service books when I visit, but sometimes I end up leaving it closed on the chair, or just refer to it now and then. I've not found the book to be too distracting.

    What is a distraction, for me, is watching other people... how do they cross? how do they bow? are they singing along? do they look bored? is this "real" to them?

    It might be better for me if I did look at the book more... :)

  2. In my case,because I am so new to Orthodoxy, I needed to look at other people just so I could know how I am supposed to act but I am doing less of that now...

    As for the picture of me, I think the cartoon version is better!

  3. I went to Thanksgiving morning liturgy yesterday, and took my 16-year-old daughter along - her first time at an Orthodox liturgy. On the drive there I told her about some of the things she might expect, and some to listen for. I warned her that she might get greeted with a kiss, but even I was unprepared when a nice old gentleman greeted us both with a three-fold kiss: cheek, cheek, lips! Yikes, that was a bit invasive for her first visit! :)

    Our main distraction yesterday was the adorable little toddler in front of us... :)

  4. I know my twenty year old daughter would freak out if an old man, no matter how nice he was, planted a kiss on her lips! I hope your daughter survived...lol...Question- Is that a European thing or just strictly an Orthodox thing? Because if it is only from the Culture of Europe than does that mean, in an American Church, such a practice should cease?

  5. I need to have a follow-up conversation with my daughter, and see how she's feeling about the visit overall, after several days to reflect on it. I hope she's OK... I know I'm still a little rattled by the kiss, and I was half-expecting it to happen some day, based on the reading I've done over the past couple years!

    As far as the status of the practice in the American church - that's a good question. I'll look to see if there's a conversation about it at Monachos.net. As I watch the people who attend liturgy at the church I visit, I see several kinds of customs, ranging from no kiss at all (handshake only) to the three-stage full-on that we received. It depends on who you stand next to, for what you get hit with... :)

  6. i guess since the Orthodox church in America is pretty much an immigrant Church, there customs will follow them to America. What I long for is an authentically American Orthodox Church with American customs. I have always heard Orthodoxy takes what is good in a culture and "adds" Orthodoxy to it. American, I don't think, were ever really big on kissing but handshakes seems about right...then again, it is scriptural to "greet each other with a holy kiss." I guess we need to find a balance...