Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Great Homily and Great Priestly Advice

Getting advice is always a good thing
photo by Paul W. Locke, used under the creative commons license
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I came early to Vespers on Saturday and sat (stood) in a place I normally don't, right next to the Icon of St. John Maxamovich., Bishop of San Francisco. He is one of my Fav's and I ask for his intercessions a lot. This being my 113th visit to an Orthodox parish, I of course, entered into worship, enjoying the Psalms and was pleasantly distracted by the family in front of me.  They had two children, a boy and a girl and the little girl was a bit frigidity, wanting to get picked up by her father, ect. I loved how the parents, while showing them proper attention, kept directing them to worship, in a loving yet firm way.  That is the way family worship should be and it was a blessing to watch. After Vespers, this family received special prayers from all of us for traveling mercies.  It seems they were going on vacation the next day.

I loved Fr. Gary's homily. He talked about how we need the Divine Services and should go as much as possible. He also said no matter how many times we fall, we should always come back. Fr. Gary even went so far to say that tonight, some of us will succumb to the passions but that we should always come back.  How true that is! No matter how many times we fall, we must come back!

I had sent Fr. Gary an email (Facebook IM, really) asking if he would hear my confession. What prompted this request is some activity/advice I got from an Orthodox group on Facebook.  I had posted my dilemma of wanting to convert and, yet having a spouse who wasn't that interested. Some good advice I got was this:
“Attend (Liturgy) as often as is reasonably possible, pray, fast, give alms. Live out the Orthodox faith. You don't have to be Chrismated to do that, and it will teach you more about the faith than all the books in the world. If you can make mid-week Liturgies, go. The Liturgy will teach you all you need to know.”
So I figured if I confessed my sins to God in front of His priest, that even though it would not be a sacrament because I am not Orthodox, I would be doing the best I can given my protestant status.  I explained all of this to Fr. Gary, how I figured if I (finally) got serious and strove to "live the life," I'll be closer to Christ and, perhaps that would lead to conversion.  In any event, being closer to Christ is bound to make me a better husband, don't you think?

Fr. Gary said he would hear my confession, if it was something pressing or major but it sounded to him that confessing my sins during my personal evening prayer (which seem to be the focus of evening prayers) is the way I should go. God would hear me and forgive me but unless I had some heavy burden on my heart, which he would be happy to listen to, he believed it would be better not "hear my confession."  Basically, in order to be Orthodox, I have to be Orthodox.

Since I hadn't murdered anyone since breakfast and avoided bank heists, I figured my ordinary run of the mill sins would have to be handled in evening prayers. I was touched by Fr. Gary's pastoral demeanor while talking to me. He kept emphasizing that if something was "heavy upon my heart" that he would listen to me. I did ask him if he thought it would be a good idea for me to fast with the Church. He said all Christians are called to fast so he would not discourage fasting.  Okay, I better buy some more beans.

So keep me in your prayers as I strive to live close to Christ, using all the tools in the Church that I am able, given I am not yet a member.

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