Sunday, August 26, 2012

Thankfully, No Political Protests at Vespers Last Night!

Not in attendance at Vespers Last night!

It seems I have been hearing and reading a lot about "Pussy Riot" and their prayer/protest lately. Tons of articles on the internet and loads of podcasts talking about it. So I started wondering as I sang the Psalms with the Faithful, last night, what would our reaction be if some people came to the front of the Church and started uttering blasphemies couched in the form of a rebellious prayer? I know, I wouldn't be thinking of their "Free Speech" rights. I would be thinking of the kids that were in attendance and how inappropriate it would be for them to be subjected to this! I would also be thinking, "This is not the place for that."

Most of what I heard from Orthodox podcasts came out against it. I think specifically of Frederica Matthews Green who, while admiring their kicking skills, came out against them and Abbott Tryphon is absolutely livid about them. I only heard one Orthodox source that thought Pussy Riot were somehow to be commended for speaking out against President Puttin. That would be the Compass Podcast so you know they are non-chalacdeon Orthodox, if that makes a difference~ Armenian Orthodox.

Our society is becoming more and more hostile to Christians. I think had a protest like this happened in a Mosque, not only would the Muslims be outraged (and some calling for the death penalty) but all of the West would have been calling down condemnation on these girls. But since it was against Christians....Well, Christians deserve this type of treatment, I suppose! At least, that is what some think.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Christ is dishonored in this way. Surely, the enemy of our souls, hates Christ and will encourage such behavior where he will. But that doesn't mean I have to like it or not speak out against it.

Last night, when Fr. Gary was censing the icons, he walked past the front seats where a family with a little girl was standing. As he passed and left behind a cloud of smoke. The little girl put her face in that cloud because it was just her level and she took a deep breath. As she inhaled in the unique smell of incense, I thought, this smoke is our prayer. This smoke raises towards heaven, carried by Angels and echoed by the Saints, to the Throne of God! Surely, that is the kind of "Free Speech" that is appropriate for the Church.

"Illustrated by Anush Movsesian Avejic check out:

If people want to offer "Punk Prayers", let them do so somewhere else.

I came to Church to offer prayer to God and I don't think anyone should interrupt us!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Somethings up at Vespers....

....I noticed a few more cars than usual and I noticed that certain people were dressed up just a bit more "Fancy" than usual. So what's all the hub-bub? Oh, yeah, now I remember; Bishop Michael would be at Vespers tonight! The man we pray for every week, our spiritual leader, would be worshiping with us. And that is cool!

I walked in and after venerating the Icons, I worked my way to the back and noticed Tiffany sitting alone. Wonder where Jim was? I asked her about him. Turns out, he was in the back yard or something and had a run in with a skunk! Yikes! I think that's a good enough reason to stay home :)

Bishop Michael's homily was excellent. One of the reasons he is here for a few days is to bless the Icons Sunday (Today) so he spoke about it last night. He recalled how Solomon asked for God's blessing on the Temple. When there was famine or when there was war or when the people had sinned, may they always pray in this place and be heard. Bishop Michael applied that to our parish, offering this caveat, this only comes about by humility on our part and by our constant repentance. As long as we remember that, God will be with us.

His Grace, Bishop Michael
Speaking of humility, I am struck with its constant predominance in Orthodoxy. Bishop Michael is but one example of humility. Yes, we do treat him with honor but he doesn't act like a king, only a servant of Christ. I can hear it in his voice as he speaks to us. I can see it in his actions as he blesses a college student and shows genuine affection in a hug to him, since he is leaving for College today. This was not the action of a "stand offish" high and exalted Bishop, but rather that of a Shepherd of his people.

I had to scoot out of there pretty fast. I usually pick up my son from work and, as it is, he waits around for about an hour for me to finish with Vespers and Vespers went a bit longer last night. So I didn't have a chance to greet Tammy but was happy to see the hug given to Tiffany by her as I left. It's a joy to see Tiffany at Vespers. Indeed, she is becoming more Orthodox than me, going to Divine Liturgy as well, I believe.

I did see Fr Ken on the way out and said, "Hello Padre" as I gave him the trinitarian kiss on the cheek. He invited me to a Picnic next week.

That, I am looking forward to!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Thinking of Orthodox Novels during Vespers

I am right now reading a fantastic novel by R. Leo Olson, called "Sojourning with Angels: The rise of Zazriel" It is a sometimes gritty novel that portrays the sinful life of a lapsed Orthodox Christian who is about to meet final judgment. The story is from the Guardian Angel's point of view. You can listen to an excellent review of this book on Ancient Faith Radio .

Well, in that book, there is a scene where all the guardian angels of those who have been sealed (by baptism, I suppose) are participating in Worship during a Vespers Service. That is what I thought about last night as we chanted the Psalms and sang the Hymns of the Church. It isn't just us "Image Bearers" (as people are called by Angels in the book~I bet you can guess Whose Image we bear) but also Angels join us. I like that idea.

Tammy sat down beside me right before Vespers started and we chatted about the weather. It has been a very hot summer and she helped out at St. Stephen's camp in upstate New York in the kitchen! Man, that must have been hot. After our short and pleasant conversation, she got up and joined the choir, ready to add her voice to the Angelic choir among us!

I had missed Vespers last week. (I was a little too exhausted from work) so it was great to be back again. Sadly, Jim Martin and Tiffany weren't able to be there. I look forward to worshiping all together again soon.

And it won't be just us, but Angels will join our praise!