Sunday, November 24, 2013

122nd Vespers ~ back after too long of a Time!

my Parish
It's been over two weeks since I've been to Vespers and it was great to get back! I enjoy the reverence and care that people give to worship. I especially liked to watch Reader John do some "maintenance" in the Nave as the Service is going on. It is Reader John's practice to watch the candles as they burn up front and, usually towards the end of Vespers, he will quietly walk to the candle stand and extinguish  those candles which are almost already burned down. I guess this saves a mess. Well, last night, some stray leaves blew into the Nave and Reader John picked up the leaves, placed them in his hand and walked out the back to throw them out.  He does this, no doubt, because this place is consecrated to the Lord for worship and should be in tip-top shape,especially when Worship is going on.  Such humble service, I am sure, does not go unrecognized by the Lord. The Psalmist says, I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness. I bet that goes for janitor as well.  In any event, in a beautiful place of Worship, where beautiful hymns are chanted in reverence....that is the place I want to be! By God's Grace, I'll be back again soon!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Angels! Angels! Angels!

My job has been killing me (but I'm grateful I have it☺)so this post about my 121st Divine Service is late. Considering  that the Vespers Service I attended was the SYNAXIS OF THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL AND THE OTHER BODILESS POWERS and that was back on November 8th. But I have a spare moment before I head off to work so here it is.

When I was a teenager and very much a born-again, tongues-talking, charasmatic Christian, I remember when Billy Graham came out with the Book Angels: God's Secret Agents so I rushed to the huge Christian book store in Manhatten and was about to ask about the book when a very old lady came up to the counter and asked, "Do you have the book, Angels, Angels, Angels by Billy Graham?" Uh, lady, that's not what it's called but looking at the graphics on the book, I can see how this dear woman thought that was the title. In any event, the book by Billy Graham was a really interesting read and since it was so long ago I don't remember any details of the book, I can say that I remember that I really liked it.  Angels, you see, are a fascinating subject.

And, of course, the Church holds angels in honor which is only appropriate since they look out for us and guide us to Christ. The Vespers service was inspiring, as always and it was a delight to behold the icons of Gabriel and Michael on the doors as we sang their hymns.

When I told my son that I was going to Vespers that evening, I told him we were commemorating St. Michael. He told me, that only humans can be Saints and not angels. I told him he was wrong since they are in heaven praying for us.  Then when I got to Vespers I noticed that in the hymns Michael was referred to as archangel and not Saint Michael.

So my question is for those of you who are more knowledgeable than I: Are angels ever called Saints or is that just reserved for those people on earth who have struggled toward Salvation? I think the Roman Catholics call Angels, Saints and perhaps that is what I was thinking about when I referred to Michael as St. Michael.  So, please, enlighten me! ☺

Fr. Gary's homily was a short teaching on Angels, their ranks and how they act on our behalf.  Some "modern" Christians don't believe in Angels but I am glad that the Orthodox hold them in high regard.  I do know that I shall have to thank my Guardian Angel when I see him and apologize for messing up so much.  But maybe I have an angel that likes to keep busy so, perhaps, he doesn't mind me messing up so much.  After all, I wonder how much work angels have if their charges happen to be Saints already.

Holy Angels, pray for us!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Two blog posts in One

When I was 8 years this commercial came out for Certs which boasted to be Two mints in One.  Well, today, I am giving you Two blog posts in One. You see, since I started training as a TSA officer and finishing up on my online Medical Billing and Coding Course, I have been too tired to post to my blog so today I will be talking about my 119th time AND my 120th  time I've been to my Orthodox parish. Before I begin, I want to thank God for providing my new job. It is challenging to learn about security and it is very different from selling Twinkies (which I had done for over 20 years.)

When I walked into the Church two Saturdays ago (October 20th would be #119), I went up the side steps to the Church, as I normally do but I won't be doing that anymore (more on that later.) I was happy to be in Church early and I said a prayer for my wife's two uncles, both of whom were in the hospital that very week.  It was comforting to be in the presence of Saints, whose prayers I "felt" and it seemed easy to offer my own prayers, knowing those in Heaven are helping me through.  I know people say they feel God everywhere, especially in nature (or on a golf course Sunday morning) but to be in a Church that has been set apart for Worship and consecrated by a Bishop is something that should not be downplayed. In Church, you can get close to God. Yes, God is everywhere but there are places on earth where God can be more easily sensed. I was glad to be in Church and pray for my family.

Father Deacon Alexander, newly assigned to our parish, led an Adult education class on Thursday. I was able to attend and there I was happy to see Jim Martin and Tiffany. Deacon Alexander was talking about the structure of the Church (the physical building) and said that always in an Orthodox Church, there are steps leading up to the front doors. In this way, the faithful can remember that they are ascending to the Kingdom. Now I always liked to come in through the side doors (which took me to the Narthex) and even though they too have stairs, I think that I am missing the teaching point for myself if I don't come in through the front doors. Every time I ascend the steps in order to attend a divine service, I am reminding myself how I am connecting with the Kingdom of God.  So for now on, it's the front doors for me.

Last night, (#120), I put Father Deacon Alexander's lesson to heart and walked through the front doors. On the way up the stairs, I uttered a short pray.  I came early so I didn't feel rushed as I venerated the icons. That's a good thing. I need to work on being less "self conscious" and more "God conscious." Fr. Gary was not there last night and Father Sergious filled in while Deacon Alexander sang in the choir.  Fr Sergious has a deep voice which is very pleasant to listen to.

Today, (Sunday) is my last day of my online class. (Yay!) After I post this entry, I am going to take a final exam which is almost three hours long. I woke up early so I can finish in time to attend church with my wife and son at my protestant parish.

Thanks again for all your prayers and comments!