Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Visit 182 ~ Vespers with a Bishop!

His Eminence, Arch-Bishop Michael
So, talking with Bishops is good! That's what I got to do Saturday night.  I have first seen Arch-Bishop Michael "up close and personal" last year at a campfire on Church grounds, complete with 'smores!  He had come for a pastoral visit and was then, I believe, just a plain, old Bishop until he was elevated to Arch-Bishop.  You can read about that visit here.  At that time, I did not actually talk to Bishop Michael but this time I did!

The Vespers service was good - I don't think I've been to a bad Vespers service yet! :) I arrived a bit late and didn't feel right about venerating the Icons during the prayer because Bishop Michael was sitting by the Iconostasis in his chair and I would have felt uncomfortable about "invading his space," as I made the rounds. So I just sat in the back. Marko saw me and gave me a warm greeting! I remember I really enjoyed Bishop Michael's homily but, I am embarrassed to say, I cannot at this time recall what it was about! Oh, my! I guess that is why frequent Church attendance is good because it is a way to keep the Faith always before us!

After Vespers, there was to be a small reception in the Church hall.  As we waited for Bishop Michael to enter, I chatted it up with Jack Hayford and I asked him, "What is the proper way to address a Bishop?" He said, in Bishop Michael's case, it would be proper to say Your Eminence, because he was recently elevated to Arch-Bishop.  So I asked, "If I said, Your Grace, instead that would be sort of an insult, since that title is for your every day Bishops? " Jack said, he'd hope that a Bishop would not be insulted by something like that. Humility and all.... Well, when I did meet Bishop Michael his humble spirit was evident. Jack also said Vladika would be proper. I get the sense that Vladika is an informal title of respect much like papa is to the term Father.  You guys, correct me if I am wrong, okay?

One of the reasons I made sure I went to Vespers on this particular Saturday is I had met with Fr. Gary last week and we had a talk about my spiritual progress and whether I should "take the plunge" into Orthodoxy.  We discussed what was hindering and Fr. Gary strongly suggested that I meet Bishop Michael. Indeed, he said, "I will introduce you." I suspect one of the reasons Fr. Gary wanted me to meet the Bishop is so that Bishop Michael could pray for me.

In the Church Hall, I talked with Mutushka Mary a while about the All-American council. I had listened to all 6 sessions on Ancient Faith Radio and Mutuska Mary had spoken as a lay delegate a couple of times. I also spoke a bit with Marko and Tammy.  But then it came time to meet the Bishop.  Fr. Gary said, Are you ready? since the Bishop seemed to be free.  You can imagine a lot of people wanted to talk to him.

Fr. Gary said "Vladika, I want to introduce you to Jim Vivanco." Arch-Bishop Michael put down the plate he was holding and immediately grabbed my hand to shake it. It made me uncomfortable because I know you are supposed to kiss his hand.  But such is the humility of our Arch-Bishop! A true and good Father to his flock!  Fr. Gary went on to tell him about my blog and, when Bishop Michael learned from me that I post an entry after each visit, he asked me, "How many visits you up to?" Of course, I went blank! I said, Well, I am nearing 200 which is true enough.  Bishop Michael then said he hoped I would continue to "come and see" until the day I was received into the Church.  Fr. Gary gave a fuller picture of my situation when he said what was really an issue was my wife's aversion to the Eastern Orthodox Faith.  Bishop Michael asked for my wife's name and then promised to pray for both of us!  

The whole conversation didn't last more than two minutes but I was so glad to meet His Eminence, Arch-Bishop Michael and I am grateful that Fr. Gary introduced me.  I am, believe it or not, very shy at times and I really hate to talk about myself (although, as you can see, I am not opposed to writing about myself :) ) but it was great to meet such a humble Shepherd.  

I hope I can meet him again soon! 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Visit 181 ~ Question: Why do kids line up first to receive the Mysteries?

I haven't been in Divine Liturgy since June 30th, mostly because I've had trouble getting someone to take my shift at work.  Well, I was happy to be at Church yesterday. I wasn't able to stay for coffee hour because I was wanted to meet my wife and we had lots to do with the dog (It's dog grooming day!) but, of course, the main reason to go to Church is the Divine Liturgy. It was great to participate in the prayers of the people, singing Psalms and Hymns once again.  

I actually was able to pray the hours before the Liturgy and below is a link to a 15 second video of that. Reader John leads us in those prayers. Yes, I know we're all sitting down but, give us a break, we're old!!!! :)

 I love the order and structure of Orthodox Worship. It doesn't matter how you "feel" but you just have to show up and participate.  I've been in many Protestant services where the leaders try to "rev up" the crowd so that it "feels" like church but that isn't necessary in Orthodoxy. Things are done decently and in order, as St. Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians.  One such example is the blessing the Reader gets before he reads from the Scriptures.  Reader Tim left the choir loft during the Trisagion prayers, walked through the side doors into the Altar. There, Fr. Gary gave his blessing to Reader Tim. Tim kissed Fr. Gary's hand and the Scripture book and then exited out the side door to the center of the Nave, ready to read from the Epistles.  This is great that it happens each and every time before the Scripture reading. It reminds everyone about proper order and, I believe, keeps us humble.  And, without humility, no one sees God.

During Communion, of course, I do not go because I am not Orthodox, not yet part of the faithful. Something I've been thinking about for a while and have kept forgetting to ask.  I notice that right before the Mysteries are distributed to the Faithful, all the kids line up first and they receive first. So This Question:

What is the reason the kids receive communion first? Is it a theological reason?

I'd love to know the answer to this. Are things done differently in other parishes? Keep in mind, that all of my "Live" Orthodox experience has pretty much just happened in one place so I am not sure how things are done in other places.  Please comment below if you know the answer.

As always, keep me in your prayers as I remember you in mine.

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!