Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Hand Crocheted Blessings"

Hop over to the "Hand Crocheted Blessings" tab and look at my (upcoming) store!  I'll update as soon as it's complete. Feel free to leave any comments or suggestions or encouragement. I'm rather new at this. But it's exciting!

Crocheted Latin Cross Baby Blanket

Prayer of a maiden for matrimony

Lately there have been quite a few posts on LAF (Ladies Against Feminism) about girls/young women who are wishing to be married but haven't found the right person yet, etc. I'll be honest, I haven't paid too much attention to them (after all, I've been married for a little while now) but I stumbled over this prayer today when I was looking for something else.  I was a little surprised, but then reflected that there are prayers for just about any intention you can think of.  Anyway, I thought I'd post it just in case there are any single women out there who are wishing to change their status! Plus, it's just a really beautiful prayer.
O All-Good Lord, I know that on this depends my great happiness, that I love Thee with all my heart and all my soul, and fulfil Thy holy will in all things. Do Thou Thyself guide my soul, O my God, and fill my heart: I desire to please Thee alone, for Thou art my Creator and my God. Preserve me from pride and self-love; let reason, modesty, and chastity adorn me. Idleness offends Thee, and engenders vice; give me then a desire for diligence and bless my labours. Inasmuch as Thy law commands men to live in honourable matrimony, so bring me, O Holy Father, to this calling which Thou hast consecrated, not for the satisfaction of my desires, but unto the fulfillment of Thy purpose; for Thou Thyself hast said: It is not good for man to be alone, and having made woman for an help meet unto him, Thou didst bless them to be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. (Gen 1:28, 2:18)

Hearken unto my humble prayer sent up to Thee from the depths of a maiden's heart: give me a spouse, honourable and pious, that together with him in love and concord we may glorify Thee, the Compassionate God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

[found on this site]

Monday, August 30, 2010

Music Monday: United Breaks Guitars

The short story* behind this (just in case you've been under a rock for the past year) is that United Airlines broke this singer's Taylor guitar (expen$ive) and he spent a year getting the run-around and in the end they wouldn't pay for it.  So he wrote this song and put it on YouTube and, well, let's just say he got some better results. Fast.

[warning: extremely catchy, might run around in your head for days...]

*Full story can be found here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Matushka Olga Michael of Alaska

I just found a beautiful and moving account of the life of Matushka Olga of Alaska.  I think many women would be helped and comforted by reading her life.  I'm posting an excerpt, but I encourage you to go read the whole thing.
While all of the canonized Saints of North America have so far been men, over the past few years an Orthodox woman, native of North America, has slowly become known to more and more people, particularly other Orthodox women.

 Matushka Olga Michael, wife of the departed Archpriest Nikolai O. Michael from the village of Kwethluk on the Kuskokwim River in Alaska, as described in Fr. Michael Oleksa's book, Orthodox Alaska, was neither a "physically impressive or imposing figure." She raised eight children to maturity, giving birth to several of them without a midwife. While her husband was away taking care of many other parishes, she kept busy raising her family and doing many things for other people. One is reminded of the story of Tabitha in the book of Acts (9:36-ff) when hearing that "[i]n addition to sewing Father Nikolai's vestments in the early years and crafting beautiful parkas, boots and mittens for her children, she was constantly sewing or knitting socks or fur outerwear for others. Hardly a friend or neighbor was without something Matushka had made for them.

Parishes hundreds of miles away received unsolicited gifts, traditional Eskimo winter boots ('mukluks') to sell or raffle for their building fund. All the clergy of the deanery wore gloves or woolen socks ...[which she] had made for them" (p. 203). While fulfilling many of the other tasks (like preparing the eucharistic bread) that are often assumed by other priests' wives, she also knew the hymns of many feast days, including Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Pascha in Yup'ik (her Eskimo language) by heart. After, miraculously surviving an initial bout with cancer when it seemed that nothing could be done, she eventually succumbed to a return of the disease, preparing herself for death which took place on November 8, 1979 with great courage and faith.

Blow, baby, blow!

Ahh...the Atlantic hurricane season is revving up!  I can feel the first prickles of excitement as I look at the Atlantic satellite in motion.  Danielle has such a nicely formed eye and TS Earl is chugging right behind.  There are two more disturbances in line behind them (although not organized) and the Atlantic basin is becoming a lot more interesting to look at. 

Any other hurricane (or weather in general) enthusiasts out there? [My family excluded - I know you're all weather nuts...]

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Memory Eternal Metropolitan Christopher!

Chicago, IL August 25, 2010 - In the presence of many family, friends, parishioners and those who respected him, brother hierarchs of our local church from America, Canada and Australia as well as other Orthodox Churches, diplomatic representatives and devoted clergymen, Metropolitan Christopher of blessed memory was laid to rest yesterday at St. Sava Monastery in Libertyville, Illinois. 
The Divine Hierarchical Requiem Liturgy, served beneath the open sky in front of the Monastery church, was celebrated by the presiding hierarch of the Orthodox Church in America His Beatitude Jonah, Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of America and Canada, and concelebrated by His Grace Bp. Georgije of Canada, His Grace Bp. Longin of the New Gracanica – Midwest Diocese, His Grace Bp. Mitrophan of the Eastern Diocese, His Grace Bp. Maxim of the Western American Diocese, His Grace Bp. Irinej of Australia and New Zeland, His Grace Bp. Petar of Cleveland, Vicar of Midwest Diocese (ROCOR) and His Grace Bp. Mark - Diocese of Toledo and Midwest (Antiochian Orthodox Church).

Eulogizing Metropolitan Christopher in a moving sermon, His Grace Bishop Irinej of Australia and New Zealand, among many words of praise, stated that: “we have lost a very strong spiritual and administrative leader who helped foster bilingual church services and schooling, and had a profound spiritual influence on the lives of many people during his 60 years of pastoral service to Christ’s holy Church.”

After the procession to the grave site with the late Metropolitan's earthly remains, Very Reverend Fr. Nick Ceko, Dean of the St. Steven's Cathedral in Alhambra, California, bid farewell to the Metropolitan at his graveside, saying: “that during his long history as priest and then as hierarch, Metropolitan Christopher had to make many challenging decisions which were not always popular, but always right and in accordance with the teaching of the Gospel and the sacred order of the Orthodox Church.”

After the burial of the Metropolitan of blessed repose, a memorial luncheon was offered at the hall of Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois, during which Rev. Fr. Darko Spasojevich, Cathedral Dean, thanked everybody for their prayers and support and introduced V. Rev. Fr. Dennis Pavichevich, the Metropolitan’s Deputy who gave a very moving and compassionate speech, recollecting his personal memories of Metropolitan Christopher. Many representatives of different church affiliated organizations addressed the family and the people present: Mrs. Danijela Randjelovic, President of the St. Sava Monastery Women’s Auxiliary Organization, Mrs. Yvonne Orlich, 1st Vice President of the Serbian Singing Federation, Mrs. Biljana Sevic, President of the Executive Board of the Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, Mr. Constantine Triantafillou, Director of IOCC, Mr. Dmitar Rakic, a long time friend from St. Archangel Michael Parish, and Mr. Petar Kovachevich, son of the late Metropolitan Christopher.

May Metropolitan’s Christopher Memory be eternal!
Two photo galleries can be found here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

26 ways in which doing IT Support is better than being a pastor

Father found this one for me.  I must say, it's a riot.  And it's tongue in cheek, not serious!

26 ways in which doing IT Support is better than being a pastor

 (for the most part)

1. People come to you for help — instead of assuming that, if you really knew your job, you would intuitively know they needed help, and come to them without being asked.

2. Everyone immediately tells you, to the best of his ability, what his or her actual issue is.

3. Everyone who asks you a question really wants to hear the answer.

4. Everyone who asks you for help really wants to he helped.

5. Everyone who calls you really does want his/her computer to work the very best it can.

6. You and your callers agree that computer bugs and problems are bad, and should be done away with.

7. When you identify viruses, spyware, unwanted popups, and crashes as "bad," and target them for elimination, the folks you help don't accuse you of being harsh and judgmental.

Read the rest.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Russia is aborting itself to death.

I've known for a long time that the abortion situation in Russia (not that it's alone) is pretty bad.  Under Soviet rule, lots of countries used abortion heavily and that's something that takes time to change.  Up until now I hadn't bothered to look into the details.  However bad it is (and it REALLY is) it appears that the situation is beginning to improve.  That's a good thing considering that "Russian Health Ministry figures show 1.2 million abortions last year compared to 1.7 million live births, with upwards of a quarter million women per year left infertile from abortion complications."  Look at those figures again: 1.2 million abortions vs. 1.7 million live births.  This. Is. Not. Good.  As I said though, the situation is improving with more and more people desiring restrictions on abortion and even a complete ban on abortion.  Unless the situation does improve, there won't be enough people around for it to matter: "Between 1992 and 2008, Russia’s population dropped by more than 12 million."

Read the whole thing.
(h/t Ad Orientem)

Music Monday: Musical Phonetic Punctuation

Strictly speaking, this is not entirely music, but if you need a Monday lift, here it is!  This is Dean Martin and Victor Borge (1909 - 2000) on Dean's show in 1969. Victor Borge is a pianist, comedian and conductor who has done oodles of comedy routines, really one man shows.  Every time I watch him, I laugh until I cry.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Name it and Claim it" or "Thy Will be Done"?

Excerpt from "Reducing Scripture to a Single Proposition" (2005) by Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon,
Times out of mind I have been told by sincere Christians that the promise given by Jesus--the promise of His Father's granting us whatsoever we ask in His name (John 16:23-24)--is absolute and "allows of no exceptions." Some folks, citing this text, often enough go on to remark that even the addition of "if it is Thy will" bespeaks a want of sufficient faith, inasmuch as it suggests that the person making the prayer is failing in confidence that his prayer will be answered. That is to say, a prayer containing an "if,"because it is ipso facto hypothetical, expresses an inadequate faith. What the believer should do, I have been told, is simply "name it and claim it."

Although I think this notion very distressing in principle, sometimes the claim is made in circumstances that render it more distressing still. For instance, years ago when I was counseling a young woman severely and permanently injured in an accident, she quoted this biblical promise to me on many occasions, along with the comment that God, in not granting her the healing for which she so earnestly pleaded, was shirking His promise. By no amount of reasoning, I found, was I able to persuade the lady to look at the matter from another angle, an angle equally biblical. She felt that she had in hand all the empirical evidence she needed to think herself abandoned by God, who, if not insouciant to her pain, was at least reckless of His pledge.
The truth here, however, is quite different. The addition, "if it is thy will," is neither an hypothesis imposed on our confidence nor a restraint placed on our prayer. It expresses, rather, a constitutive feature of genuine prayer and an essential component of genuine faith. The purpose of prayer, after all, is not to inform God what we want, but to hand ourselves over more completely, in faith, to what God wants. The goal of prayer, even the prayer of petition, is living communion with God. The man who tells God,then, "Thy will be done," does not thereby show himself a weaker believer but a stronger one.

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Morning Excitement and a Prayer Request

[After Lunch Update: I guess the fire started back up because the fire trucks and police have reconverged on the house.  I don't see any smoke so it can't be that bad.] 

This morning someone broke into a house down the street from us, sexually assaulted the middle-aged woman and physically assaulted her elderly mother, locked them in and set the house on fire.  I believe there was burglary involved as well.  Please pray for both of them (I think they're both named Ruby).  The mother is in the local hospital and the daughter has been transferred to a larger one because of some extensive head injuries in addition to smoke inhalation.  The police have been up and down the street seeking information.  Pickles was very excited to see a police officer in our house.  He was very nice and showed the boys his patrol car when he was done.  They assured us that this sort of violent crime is highly unusual in this town.  Also, it appears that the intruder possibly knew the victims so it wasn't a random crime.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

That's Numberwang!

Some time ago Father and I discovered this hilarious sketch depicting a game show based on, well, nothing really.  It's completely random and inexplicable.  The title has turned into the perfect answer for questions like "What on earth would have made her do something like that?!" Answer: "That's Numberwang!"

"Yes, it's time for Wangernumb. Let's rotate the board!"

Monday, August 16, 2010

Music Monday: O Pure Virgin

Because the Dormition was yesterday, I'm putting up my favorite hymn of the season: O Pure Virgin, a prayer written by St. Nektarios of Aegina (+1920).  The video below is in Russian, but I've included links below to the same hymn in other languages.

English (part 1, part 2), Serbian, Arabic, Korean, Greek, Romanian, Spanish, French

O Pure Virgin/ Agni Parthene
plagal first tone

O pure and virgin Lady, O spotless Theotokos:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
O Virgin Queen and Mother, O bedewed Fleece most sacred:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
O height transcending heaven above, O beam of light most radiant:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
O joy of chaste and virgin maids, surpassing all the angels:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
O brilliant light of heaven above, most clear and most radiant:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
Commanding Chief of heavenly hosts, O holiest of holies:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.

O ever-virgin Mary, O Mistress of Creation:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
O Bride all-pure and spotless, O Lady all-holy:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
O holy Mary, Bride and Queen, O cause of our rejoicing:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
O Maiden Queen most honorable, O Mother most holy:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
More precious than the Cherubim, more glorious than the Seraphim:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
Surpassing Principalities, Dominions, Thrones, and Powers:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.

Rejoice, song of the Cherubim; Rejoice, hymn of the Angels:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
Rejoice, ode of the Seraphim, and joy of the Archangels:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
Rejoice, O peace, rejoice, O joy, and haven of salvation:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
O bridal chamber of the Word, unfading, fragrant blossom:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
Rejoice, delight of paradise, Rejoice, life everlasting:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
Rejoice, O holy Tree of Life, and Fount of immortality:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.

I humbly supplicate thee, Lady, I humbly call upon thee:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
O Queen of all, I beg thee to grant me thy favor:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
O spotless and most honored Maid, O Lady all-holy:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
I call upon thee most fervently, thou temple most holy:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
O thou my help, deliver me from harm and all adversity:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.
And by thy prayers show me to be an heir of immortality:
Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Dormition of the Mother of God

Joyous Feastday!

Troparion- tone 1

In giving birth, thou didst preserve thy virginity,
In falling asleep thou didst not forsake the world, O Theotokos.
Thou wast translated to life, O Mother of Life
And by thy prayers, thou deliverest our souls from death!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

O Gladsome Light!

Tonight at Vespers, the lights, when turned up at Gladsome Light, actually made a difference in the overall lighting of the church.  With the sun still high in the sky at six o'clock in the summer I always feel slightly silly at this point.  But tonight the sky was still heavily overcast from the torrential rains of the afternoon and the church was somewhat darkened. 

After Vespers the sun had begun to peek through the clouds right on the horizon.  With it still drizzling slightly I started looking for a rainbow.  Because the sun was so low in the sky, the rainbow was so high that I almost missed it.  When we got home I grabbed the camera and headed out to try to take a picture. 

It was one of the most expansive rainbows I'd ever seen and I couldn't get all of it in the frame at once.

A minute or so after I'd started photographing it, a secondary rainbow appeared, much to the delight of all of the children in the neighborhood who were jumping up and down on their respective lawns.

When Ginger came out to see the rainbows, he said, "look at that great sunset!" 
I turned around and looked.
Mammatus clouds!
(Hopefully my brother William will not email me to correct my nomenclature.)

I kept going back out to watch the sunset. 
The colors were glorious, not able to be captured on the camera.

O Gladsome Light indeed!

Beautiful Plumage...

Our birdcage now has an inhabitant.  Friends of ours took pity on the cage and provided it with a lovely cardinal (beautiful plumage) to keep it company.  Due to the perplexing lack of perch we tried wiring the bird directly to the cage but it kept flopping upside down.  Hm.
Customer: Um...now look...now look, mate, I've definitely 'ad enough of this. That parrot is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not 'alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein' tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.
Owner of pet shop: Well, he's...he's, ah...probably pining for the fjords.

C: PININ' for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got 'im home?

O: The Norwegian Blue prefers keepin' on it's back! Remarkable bird, id'nit, squire? Lovely plumage!

C: Look, I took the liberty of examining that parrot when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there.


O: Well, o'course it was nailed there! If I hadn't nailed that bird down, it would have nuzzled up to those bars, bent 'em apart with its beak, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee!

C: "VOOM"?!? Mate, this bird wouldn't "voom" if you put four million volts through it! 'E's bleedin' demised!
(read the whole Monty Python sketch or watch it)

Sadly, despite the bird's obviously attention-seeking behaviour, Genevieve has largely ignored it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

"It's a Banquet, not a Buffet"

I posted on Tradition and the Holy Scriptures the other day.  It stayed on my mind, partly because of the encounter with the three little Baptist girls on my front steps Wednesday afternoon before church. (Parenthetically, why on earth would parents allow young girls go up to strangers' houses to "evangelize"? I was nice, but lots of people wouldn't have been. Anyway.) It really underscored the problem of ditching Tradition. 

If you have a Bible, taken completely out of context (and let's face it: in a Baptist church, it's pretty significantly out of context), then you can make it mean whatever you want it to mean.  Now, a lot of the time, you may get it right.  After all, some things in the Bible are fairly straightforward.  But there are a lot of pitfalls in looking at a verse and saying "it means this".  Doesn't Satan have an interest in you getting it wrong? About two thousand years worth of holy people have written sermons and commentaries on the Scriptures.  Are we saying we automatically know better than they do because we've come later?  C.S. Lewis coined the term "chronological snobbery" to describe this fallacy of thinking that things that came before are automatically inferior to anything in the present.

When speaking specifically of the Holy Scriptures, I tend to hear "but the Bible is the inspired word of God". Yes, but who wrote the Bible? It wasn't finally codified until the Council of Carthage accepted it in 397. The answer is the Church wrote the Bible. As Father Benedict notes, "Fr. Thomas Hopko very usefully divides the Apostolic Tradition into seven elements. These include Bible, worship, councils, writings of the fathers, lives of the saints, canon law, and the arts." Also that we "have to point out that none of these elements of Tradition is to be taken out of the larger context of the Apostolic Tradition. They are all organically linked, and when we take one of those elements away from the others, it always leads to trouble and misunderstanding. Each of these elements comes alive in the life of the Church."

Throughout history, people have left the Church, taking some things with them, leaving some things behind and injecting some things of their own.  Taa daa, a new church.  Then people would leave that church, the same process happening all over again, and, taa daa, another new church.  This went on and on and is (unsurprisingly) still going on today.  If you look at that graphically, you get something like this (and this is very simplified):

That whole process of take some, leave some, add some is really irresistible.  It's even more so today when we are surrounded by such slogans as "have it your way".  People have gotten so accustomed to thinking they are entitled to have every aspect of their lives custom-made that it has extended to churches.

Rod Dreher sums it up nicely:
You have to start by realizing that Tradition has a claim on you, and your life, that you should submit to it, and that no, you can't just make stuff up as you go along, and create the world anew every morning, as befits your whim. See what Me Church says, and do the opposite.
As Fr. Alexander Fecanin has said: "It's a banquet, not a buffet."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

S-1, C-3, R-1, A-1, B-3, B-3, L-1, E-1

Anyone else out there like Scrabble

Word Freak
Father won't play with me anymore. Even if I don't gloat.

I mean, it's not like I want to build this.

(Ok, I lied.  This looks awesome.)

And it's not like this figures in my plans for our living room any time soon.

The children haven't been terribly interested.

But, if there's a next time around, maybe I'll have better luck.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sometimes it's so hard to say "I'm sorry."

"It's not you, it's me."

A mosque in place of the Church?

Almost 9 years ago, I was awakened by the sound of my husband pounding up the stairs, two at a time, shouting to turn on the television.  I groggily got up and followed him to the TV.  Screaming, smoke, confusion...I didn't know what I was looking at.  Father was on the phone with his mother.  He explained: a plane - the big kind - had flown into one of the World Trade Towers.  I stood there horrified while babies played at my feet.  After about ten minutes he went back downstairs.  I was still staring transfixed at the screen when there were fresh shouts and screams and the camera swiveled around in the sky.  My heart in my throat, I watched another plane slide into the remaining tower.  My screams brought my husband and he held me while we stood there in disbelief.  We realized the first plane had not been an accident.  I looked at him and wondered if the world was coming to an end.  My oldest pulled on my legs and asked why Mommy was crying.  Her innocent face.  How do you explain this to a two-year-old child?  I told her a lot of people had been hurt and Mommy was very sad.  The reports and the horror did not end.  The towers collapsed on top of any survivors and the rescuers.  Another plane crashed in Pennsylvania.  [We lived in Pennsylvania, close to New York.]  Another plane into the Pentagon.  All flights grounded.

I reported to the hospital early that day.  Our three hospitals were some that were designated to receive transfers from New York hospitals to make room for the thousands of expected wounded. 

They didn't come.

Cars stood abandoned at local bus stations. The people in our community who had taken them to New York never came home to claim them. I still have the newspapers from the fourteen days following September 11th, showing the bleak faces of the bus station personnel, the portraits of the dead.

My cousin, who worked in the Towers, was not heard from

until a few days later when the call got through.

And St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which had stood in the shadow of the Towers,

was completely buried.

Now, the Port Authority wants to build a mosque and Muslim cultural center.  A monument to Islam.  A monument to the faith so adhered to by the Muslim hijackers that they took more than three thousand innocent people with them to their deaths.

And they are blocking the rebuilding of St. Nicholas Church,
which still owns the scarred land on which it once stood.

Lord Have Mercy!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Junk" vs. "Treasure"

My husband and I came to an agreement several years ago:

1. I don't ask him to go into thrift stores.

2. He doesn't prevent me from going to "junk" stores.

3. I don't ask him to get enthusiastic about my finds.

But sometimes I need someone to share my excitement when I spread out the "spoils" of my trip.

Well, guess what...

(everything is displayed on a cotton tablecloth I found too)

.: nifty little Fossil tins :.

.: baskets with black wirework :.

.: cotton napkins - I thought these looked "Williams Sonoma-y" :.

.: one of my favorite summer childhood books :.

.: Chronicles of Narnia books on tape (hello monastery trip!) :.

.: a cheap frame for this print I've been carting around for years :.

.: now I need another one... :.

.: yes, I bought a bird cage :.

.: for FOUR dollars :.

.: and it's just adorable...but you should have seen Father's face... :.

Holy Scriptures (Updated)

I know this looks like another shameless plug for Father's blog Seeking the Kingdom, but really, he just keeps on publishing really good articles! 

The latest post is about the role of Holy Scripture in the Church's Tradition.  This is an area fraught with pitfalls when it comes to talking to Protestants because "in the Orthodox Church we do not accept the 16th century Protestant teaching of sola Scriptura, that the faith is determined by Scripture alone."  Orthodox Christians have a different position:
The fact that we see Holy Scripture as part of Holy Tradition impacts the way that we as Orthodox Christians interpret Holy Scripture. In the Orthodox Church, we always interpret the Bible from within the context of Holy Tradition. (Feel free to read that sentence out loud a few times. It’s important.) This means, right off the bat, that any interpretation of Holy Scripture that is at odds with the Apostolic Tradition is automatically rejected as false. As Orthodox Christians we are free to read the Bible and try to understand it, but if we choose to trust our own individual interpretation over that of the Church, then we are in serious danger of error. In the Church we have a consensus of voices (the “holy fathers”, about which more later) that help us to understand what we’re reading.
Understanding this is critical to knowing how to talk to Christians outside of the Orthodox Church.  You can't have a rational discussion if you don't realize that you're using words and labels that mean different things to different people.  Father includes a discussion on the history of the Bible itself (what's in it and how it got there) which is good to know too. This is a clearly-written and concise article on a subject about which many of us have limited or incomplete knowledge.  Check it out!

[Update: God bless these poor little teenage girls who just showed up on my doorstep from X Baptist Church.  They had no idea what they'd walked into.  I was as nice as I could be, but the youngest one started looking scared when I started talking about the dangers of taking the Bible out of the Church and showed myself knowledgable about the history of the writing of the Holy Scriptures.  I promise I was nice (really!) but they almost ran like rabbits when their church bus came back around the block.  Poor things.  I really should keep tracts by the door for such events.]

Monday, August 9, 2010

Things that make me happy...

.: rain drops :.

.: crocheting for friends :.

.: children watching The Dawn Treader :.

.: finally getting the key holder up :.

.: a new bar of soap :.

.: a waiting bed :.

Music Monday: The Toaca

The toaca (Romanian), also called the semantron or talanta (Greek) is a large plank of wood, sometimes sized and shaped so as to be balanced on one's shoulder at the midpoint, many times so large that it is hung at either end by chains.  It is struck by one or more wooden mallets as a call to prayer, usually at monasteries.  The rhythm can be relatively simple or quite intricate.  By striking different parts of the wood, different "notes" are sounded so a simple melody can be played.  Below is a video of a monk in Romania.  It's magnificent. 

Another example is here, in which a video was taken from the courtyard of a monastery in Romania (I promise, other monasteries besides Romanian ones use the semantron!).  This is interesting because you can't see the source of the sound, but you can tell it is LOUD.  [Don't watch the video too closely or you'll get dizzy - it swings around a lot.  It's still well worth the watch though.]

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Just Staggered

Probably everyone on the planet has seen this but me, but just in case you haven't, watch:

Merciful heavens. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Prayer request

While we are celebrating the feast of Transfiguration today, let us take a moment to pray for the suffering in Russia where the worst heat wave in a century has been joined by dreadful fires.  At least fifty people have been killed, thousands evacuated, entire villages burned.  Read more here.

Holy Transfiguration of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ

Joyous Feastday!

Troparion - Tone 7

Thou wast transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God,
revealing Thy glory to Thy disciples as far as they could bear it.
Let Thine everlasting Light shine upon us sinners,
through the prayers of the Theotokos.
O Giver of Light, glory be to Thee!

For an explanation of the feast check here and here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"Tradition" vs. "tradition"

There is a very enlightening post on the role of Tradition in the Church at Seeking the Kingdom.  Here's an excerpt:

For “modern” people, tradition can seem like a negative term because it signifies that which is old and out of date, about as exciting as spoiled milk. What we “modern” people want is something new and exciting. Of course, the Church doesn’t see Holy Tradition in that way. On the contrary, for us Holy Tradition has been defined as “the life of God’s people as inspired and guided down through the centuries by the Holy Spirit.”

This is a useful definition, both because it points to the fact that tradition has to be LIVED – yes, our Orthodox Christian understanding of tradition is that it is a living tradition – and that it is the Holy Spirit who guides Tradition. Each generation that comes along, each new human being born into the world that encounters the Church, has to hear and receive what’s been lovingly handed down to them. Each person has to have a unique, personal encounter with Christ and the Holy Spirit in the Church’s Tradition, and as each person takes up that Tradition and LIVES it, it will be new for them. Even though the Apostolic Tradition is one, yet each person has to bring to life in their experience through the Holy Spirit.

It goes on to discuss the role of the Church's Tradition in the formation of the bible, education of Christians and current life of the church.  This isn't new information to me and yet I found it a fascinating read.

Monday, August 2, 2010

What a bibliophilic find!

I feel a little silly posting about a blog find right after posting the previous one, but this is a seriously great find!  Thanks to Sarah on whose blog, Daddy, Mama, and Baby Make Three, I found this this evening.

The blog is Good Books for Young Souls, and while I have only had time to peruse for a few minutes, those few minutes have convinced me I'm onto something great!  For all of those moms who love to read to their children, or who have children who love to read, or who just like to read good children's books (!), this is a wonderful resource.  I encourage you to check it out!

Nifty Blog

Every now and then I'll share a blog I've found.  Today's find is "Things Your Grandmother Knew...and you wish you did too!"

From her blog introduction:
"Some of the best kitchen and household tips were published during World War II when recycling & rationing was vital not only for the nation's economy, but necessary for the survival of each family.

Some of these tips were handed-down from grandma, but were often they were dismissed as cute anecdotes, stories of 'hard times and hard work' which were not necessary in times of prosperity and a plethora of modern conveniences.

As a result, many of these kitchen and household tips have been lost to history -- unless you collect vintage magazines.

There, in the yellowing brittle pages, you'll find a slew of household tips that are amazingly still practical today."
 Check it out!

Music Monday: Cloudy This Morning

George Winston: Cloudy This Morning

This, in honor of our thirteenth wedding anniversary,
 for Father who introduced me to George Winston's Forest (1994).

One day, maybe I'll have the sheet music...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Procession of the Precious Wood of the Life-giving Cross of the Lord

Not familiar with this feast day? Check it out here.

As I mentioned earlier, I was working on the base for the flowers for the cross when I met with an inconvenient accident.

The stiff foam was carved away from a traced cross in the center.  The wet foam is then placed in the space vacated and the cross is thus elevated above the wet. 

The rest is simple: red carnations surrounding the cross, baby's breath outlining it and then ferns to finish it off.

The cross you see was hand-carved by a parishioner who has also carved many other things for the church.  He does beautiful work.

I've done this for the cross on other feast days as well.

[Normally I wouldn't be doing the flowers but because of travel and a family member's death, it was necessary to substitute for the regular flower-arrangers.]