Monday, September 5, 2011

Meeting with Fr Gary this Saturday!

Fr Gary at Pascha

So this Saturday I scheduled a breakfast with Fr Gary. IHOP, of course.

It's kind of a big deal.

You see, I have been going to this parish for over a year (34 times to be exact ) but conversations I have had with anyone have been very brief. When I think about it, the only people I really talk to at the church is Deacon Ken (soon to be Fr Ken), Tammy and, just "hi" and "good-bye" to Fr. Gary. Most of my discussions at the church have been with Ken. He has taken a special interest in talking to me. This, I know, is motivated by his love for Christ and his church. By taking time to talk to a seeker, he is fulfilling the commandment of Jesus to go into all the world and preach the Gospel.

But this will be the first time I spend a chunk of time with a priest. I know Fr Gary through his homilies and a little bit through our very short conversations so it will be very good to speak to him one-on-one.

Okay, protocol question ~ How do you greet a priest in a public forum? I see him giving the triple kiss after vespers but I never really see anyone kiss his hands. I suspect, Orthodox being who they are, will have no special rules that apply outside the church walls.

So, what will we talk about? I imagine, I will seek guidance on my next step and how to proceed without alienating my wife and kids. I am at the point where, to grow in Christ, I need more.
Should be an interesting meeting.

Of course, I will let you know how it goes.

Pray for me, a sinner.


  1. I still ask for a blessing in public. They are still my spiritual father in and out of the church. He will most likely be wearing his cossak, so it will still feel appropriate.

    I am happy you are meeting with Fr. Gary! Remember, the closer you get, the more the demons will try to interfere. So beware of obstacles and keep pushing forward! Keep us up to date. I pray for you and your family regularly. :)

  2. Yes, typically a bow and request for a blessing when meeting in public and a kiss to the blessing hand once received is appropriate in public. But if you are uncomfortable no one would chastise you for abstaining. Such things sometimes come with time and familiarity. One could make the arguement that pride directs us to avoid such things... I have been guilty of this myself. So, have courage, and remember why you are meeting with him in the first place.

    I too, understand the difficulty of this journey when it is only you in the family. There will be challenges, to be sure, but so long as the family keeps the object of the search in mind, namely, Christ, and the living out of HIS life, all will be well in the end. If your wife and children can see the life of Christ in you then how could they not be drawn toward you and your practice of this life in love? Of course, we all have our demons. Often it's pride, sometimes fear, all at some level involve us getting out of our comfort zone. I am personally convinced that the devil loves the status quo. No growth, no challenges, just the usual...

    I am glad that you have gotten to the point of needing more. Many folks recognize this very early on but it takes time to actually act on it. Love your wife as Christ loves the church, and all will be well. (But this is a great mystery!)

    So, prayers for you, brother. This journey is of a lifetime and so, remember that although the destination is the end, the journey is the means. We enter into this life to work out our salvation with fear and trembling! Know that I will continue to pray with and for you in this endeavor!

    In the peace of Christ,

  3. An interesting side question in general. My priest, OCA, former Baptist, likes having his hand kissed. Most priests I know tolerate it. Formally showing respect is probably better than not.

    As to your particular journey, Jim, just keep moving forward. God will take care of the rest.

    Prayers for you and yours. Bill

  4. Seek the priest's blessing is the best way to go. Being a priest, his hands frequently come in contact with the Body and Blood of Christ and are set apart, and he bestows the Grace of our Lord upon you when you receive a blessing. It is not an empty gesture. You are in my prayers always. May the Lord continue to bless your journey, my brother.

  5. Lavenna/Ambrosia,
    Thank you for your prayers. They must be working because, no matter how easy it would be just to "forget this whole Orthodox thing" and stay a normal protestant, I cannot shake it.

    You are right about the demons. I will keep that in mind as I progress.

    Thanks again for the prayers.

  6. Jason/Anthony,
    Yes, I must have courage! As I get closer to Christ, I am hoping it becomes evident to my family. This will mean "dying to myself" as Jesus said.

    Thanks for the prayers!

  7. Bill,
    Thanks for the prayers.
    I always like to hear of evangelicals who convert. I think in my parish, the only converts are from Roman Catholicism, which isn't too much of a stretch to Orthodoxy. But your priest, came a long way and if he was from the Calvinist branch of the baptist church then it was a really long way!

  8. John,
    thanks for the advice regarding seeking the priest's blessing. It certainly makes sense.

    What I have to fight is the idea that this is "cultish" when, in reality, it is just different and ancient. Christians are supposed to be different from the world and, I guess, in Orthodoxy everything in your life is supposed to point you to Christ so kissing the priest's hands, ect is just one more thing to help.

    It makes sense. If Christ uses the priest's hands in the Divine Liturgy to "make Eucharist" then of course the hands are holy.

    continue to keep me in your prayers and I do for you.

  9. I love the photo with the time on the clock.

  10. Maria, Yes...almost three in the morning...Those Orthodox like to party! It looks like that is in the parish/fellowship hall which I didn't stay for. What would Fr. Gary be doing? Saying a blessing over food?

  11. Well....a blog post coming tomorrow, I hope.