Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Following the Advice of Fr. Hopko

Fr Hopko
I was listening to a podcast by Fr. Hopko on the Commandments of Christ and, in it, he reminds us that we cannot follow the Gospel Commandments unless we actually read the Gospels. Obvious, right? Well, I am ashamed to say that my Bible reading is woefully inadequate so I decided that if I read one of the Gospel readings that the Church prescribes for the day, that I can write a little meditation for myself.  For me, when I write things down, they become real to me and part of my life.  And in that way I can incorporate the Gospel into my life, helping me to Live according to the Gospel.

So I started a blog where I can write these thoughts down and I invite you to read my very short observations and comment where you can and offer correction where it is needed. I am NOT trying to be a teacher but, as I said, when I write things down, it becomes real to me. I am especially grateful for the advice of my facebook friend John who advised me to incorporate the teachings of the Fathers into my blog. So, for  that, I turn to The Path, the Ancient Faith Radio podcast on the daily readings.

Here is a link to the blog called "Living According to the Gospel. .http://livingaccordingtothegospel.blogspot.com/ 
Please "follow" it or sign up for email notifications. Also, this blog is listed on the right side of "Blogs I like" and it is usually near the top of the list since I update it everyday.

Keep me in your prayers as I keep you and together we shall journey towards Salvation.

P.S. Here is a link to the podcast by Fr Hopko that inspired me to do this.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Arriving Pretty late on my 85th visit, but still worth going!

With the amount of times I report that I  arrive late at Vespers, you may be surprised to hear that I hate being late to anything.  If I reach back into my pentacostal heritage, I would just blame the devil.  While I have no doubt the evil one doesn't like me going to Vespers, I guess I have to claim some responsibility for myself. And, plus, sometimes stuff just happens.

My son needed a ride to our protestant parish because of a youth group game night. He got out at 6pm so by the time he showered and I dropped him off, it turned out I was just arriving as we sing the Psalm that introduces the readings. I forget the name. Wait, I just googled it and it's called the prokeimenon. 

            I walked in on this part!

Yes, that is late in the service but I "entered in" right away.  Fr Gary was away this week on vacation so Fr. Sergious was filling in. He has such a rich, deep voice, it is a joy to have him lead us in Worship. Fr. Sergious  read a writing from one of the Saints, which, sadly, I cannot remember the Saint's name. The reading, though, talked about how the light from the Sun comes from the Sun and we cannot see the Sun without its light. So, too, we cannot see the Father without the Light of the Son!

Sometimes I don't have a lot to talk about regarding my Vesper's visit but I can say I am always glad I went!

Glory to God!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Water, Water, Everywhere...on my 84th Visit....

Crown Center Fountain
photo by Mike Willis,used under the creative commons liscense
check out more photos at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/mpwillis/
As I walk into the Nave, I notice a table with pitchers of water, a funnel and some cups on the left under the Icon depicting Jesus' first miracle.  I also notice in the center of the Nave, where we keep the Icon of the day on a table (Sorry, I think that has a special Orthodox name but I don't know what it is), that in front of that Icon, is what looks like a baptismal fount with three candles but the fount is covered. I also notice the Icon itself and it is, of course, the Baptism of our Lord!

It's Theophany and today we celebrate, the Revelation of God to us! He revealed Himself to us as Trinity in Christ's Baptism and in our own baptism, using water, He gives us Grace; He gives us Himself!  So, as far as I am concerned, that is a fantastic reason to Worship! I am glad I went to Vesper's!

I don't think I was the only one glad, either. It seems to me the choir sounded especially good last night. They sounded so good, that, at times, I stopped singing myself just so I could here them instead of my own poor voice.  I love the Hymns they sang:

When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan the worship of the Trinity was made manifest! For the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee his Beloved Son. And the Spirit, in the form of a dove, confirmed the truthfulness of his Word. O Christ our God, who hast revealed Thyself and hast enlightened the world, glory to Thee.

Fr. Gary's homily was exceptional, too.  He preached about the reality of evil and, more specifically  the evil one.  He referenced the Gospel reading from Saturday, which, liturgically is the day before and in that Gospel, Christ is tempted by the evil one but Jesus sails right through these temptations.  Now, we don't have it that easy because when the evil one tempts us, we fall.  But God, in His Mercy, helps us and reveals Himself to us. Christ entered into the waters of baptism and through baptism, we are united to Him!

Theophany Table
I did notice at the end of the service, as people made their rounds to the venerate the Icons before we left for the day, that one of the faithful stopped by the table and poured himself a drink of the water, which, I assume, is blessed. So my question is, who may partake of this water? Is it only the Orthodox or can inquirers who have been stalking Vespers Services for over two years partake? Also, the baptismal fount in the front of the Nave was covered but after the Service, reader John, uncovered it. Why would he do that? I mean, are the Faithful supposed to dip their hands in that and cross themselves like the Roman Catholics do with their little holy water founts they have in the narthex of their churches? Or does that fount serve another purpose? If anyone knows the answer to these questions, I'd love to hear it!

In any event, I am glad I went to Vespers last night. It is good to remember that in Theophany, the Holy Trinity is revealed and in baptism, God uses water to unite us to Him.  May all things in creation, remind us of His Presence!

Christ is baptized....in the Jordan!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ending the year right with Visit #83

Litya table
 I wasn't feeling too well Saturday so I didn't make it to Vespers but, thankfully, our parish had Vespers on New Year's eve commemorating  the Circumcision of our Lord and also St. Basil. We had Litya and during those special prayers where Fr. Gary asks for the prayers of different Saints, I was moved to hear just how many Saints there are and how they can help us. I have gotten to know these Saints through Ancient Faith Radio where they will give little "blurbs" about their lives or read some of their writings. I love the Saints; it's great to know we are not in this alone!

May the prayers of the Saints bring us all closer to Christ this new year!