Sunday, March 16, 2014

Visit # 127 and #128 ~ Presanctified Liturgy and Vespers!

Let my Prayer Arise

Great Lent is a fantastic opportunity to attend many services and last week I was able to go to the Presanctified Liturgy on Wednesday and Vespers last night (Saturday.) The Presanctified Liturgy is beautiful and a great way to bring yourself to repentance. I really enjoyed chanting the Psalms but I must say my favorite part is the hymn sung, Let My Prayer Arise. The above video is a small sampling of what it sounds like (as sung by two girls, I believe) but what I heard in Church Wednesday night was so much better. It was the deep, solo, mournful voice of Fr Gary, echoing in the Church as we all are prostrated in the Nave.   If that doesn't say Great Lent, then I don't know what does!

Vespers last night, of course, kept the same spirit of repentance. We heard no joyful bells on the incense ball censer and by attending Vespers only three days after the Presanctified Liturgy, I was able to keep this week in proper focus. Besides the increased service attendance, I find myself reading more of Sacred Scripture. I confess I had let that lapse a bit but I am following a reading plan in a new prayer book I bought for my kindle.

You can purchase it for yourself  here. In fact, Amazon lets me loan the book out once to anyone I choose for 14 days so if you'd like me to lend it to you, comment below and I will get it to you.  First come, first served! ☺ I do love this prayer book. My old prayer book is falling apart which I suppose is a good thing, meaning it has gotten a lot of use over the last few years.

When I walked into the narthex last night, I noticed the icon of St. Patrick whose feast day is this Monday. Last night we commemorated Gregory of Palamas but I know that Patrick is near and dear to many, including myself so I am glad his icon was displayed. Here is a photo I took with my phone.

St. Patrick, pray for us all!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Two Services in Two Days! How's that for making up for lost time?

services, 2 days in a row!
Last week I kicked off Great Lent the right way: I went to two services, back to back!! Yes, that makes #125 and #126 times that I have attended the Orthodox Church and, I know, it's been forever since I've attended. Way back in January was the last time I was in Service. Instead of dwelling on why I was absent for so long, let me tell you about the service. It wasn't easy to "get into it," if I may use that expression.  Way back  a long time ago when I was a Pentecostal, I used to see the devil everywhere. I used to blame him for all my misfortunes but I have since dropped that emphasis. But  maybe the devil was working against me going back to Divine Services after so long an absence.  During the entire service I kept thinking, "I can't stay for the whole thing because I get up at 2:30am for work. which is true but I couldn't let it go and I resolved that I would leave after the odes were done. But I stuck it out and actually did prostrations while we were praying the prayers of St. Ephraim. There is nothing like doing prostrations to get you out of a funk.  After that I was able to concentrate more on the service a little bit better. I did briefly speak with Tammi before the service and she said she was happy to see me again. I did explain that my work schedule makes it difficult for me to attend.

The second day, after I firmly fixed it in my mind I was going to service but I found things kept  annoying me and putting me in a foul mood. (The devil at work again? maybe!) The thought occurred, maybe I should just stay home and go to sleep early....but I've been listening to sermons on AFR on how Great Lent is all about struggle so I went even though I was in a foul mood, making my mood part of the struggle. I was using my son's car that evening and had to stop and get gas or I'd never make it the 30 minute hike to the Church. But, no worries, I thought, I left extra early.  Well, it turns out that his gas cap was broken and couldn't be opened so if ever I had a reason to not go to Church that was it. But, I got mad and frustrated and thought I should just drive back home and go to sleep. I was so mad that I uttered a ghetto version of "Get thee behind me, Satan," and I drove home to get my car which already had gas in it.  I made it to the Service just at 7pm so I missed nothing. Maybe, God was testing me to see how much I really wanted to go. Who knows, all I know is I am glad I went. I was able to "get into" the service more easily this time. I ended up sitting next to Jim Martin and his daughter Tiffany. It was great to see them again. 

I hope to take this time in Great Lent to increase my spiritual discplines, including more Bible reading and attendance at Divine Services. As far as fasting goes, well, that's another story.

Blessed Lent to you all and I hope to report back here soon.