Monday, July 27, 2009

Name That Saint

My aunt and uncle threw a going away party for us at their house this past weekend; we were blessed with the company of about fifty friends from family, church, and work. The icon to your right was given to us by a couple from our parish; if you click on the image to enlarge it, you'll see something unique to this icon; below the Theotokos and Child is a glowing, red footprint. A little digging identified this icon as the Theotokos of Pochaev icon. The "IOB" to the right of the Mother of God, then, would obviously be St. Job of Pochaev, but the identity of the monastic on the left eludes me. What I can make out comes out to something like "MBFOLIEH," and I'm guessing that's not it.

The only "google-able" Pochaev saint that comes up regularly is Amphilochius, but the lettering on the icon 1) is in Cyrillic, so unless it's simple like "IOB" or close to the Greek I'm pretty much outta luck, and 2) is very tiny and smooshed together.

Any help would be appreciated! I'd like to know whose prayers I'm asking for, here....

Friday, July 24, 2009

"...the Eucharist is an 'ultimate mystery,' a sacramental consummation, 'the goal and term of life.' The Eucharist is the summit of Christian pilgrimage. And when this final stage of sacramental life has been achieved, there is nothing else that man may desire or need. In this mystery or sacrament, not only are the gifts of the Spirit granted and received, but the Risen Lord Himself is present. One cannot move farther. When Christ is in us, what else can we seek? Christ abides in the communicants. This is a 'perfect sacrament,' more perfect than any other, the beginning and the end of all blessings, the ultimate goal of all human aspirations. God is united with us 'in a most perfect union,' and nothing can be more perfect than this marvelous conjunction..." ~ Fr. Georges Florovsky

Monday, July 20, 2009

Prophet Elias

Happy namesday to little Elias, son of our good friends John and Mandy! Many years!

Troparion - Tone 4

An angel in the flesh and the cornerstone of the prophets,
the second forerunner of the coming of Christ,
Glorious Elijah sent grace from on high to Elisha,
to dispel diseases and to cleanse lepers.
Therefore, he pours forth healings on those who honor him.

Kontakion - Tone 2

Prophet Elijah of great renown,
seer of the mighty works of God,
by your command you held back the rain!
Pray for us to the only Lover of mankind!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Rest

In our household, we try to set aside Sunday as much as possible as a day of rest, refraining from all unnecessary work. This week has been a challenge for us, as temperatures had been in the triple digits for a couple of weeks straight (we've been granted a reprieve for the past three with a "cool front" in the upper 90s and even some rain today!), and the days had been taken up with boxing, packing, craigslisting, and creating towers of boxes in our 1.400 ft3 storage unit. Nowhere near what Steve has been enduring, but the work and heat is definitely taking its toll.

Interesting, then, what a "forced" day of rest will do. While it's a given that the day will be appreciated by the body (give it some time to heal up), it also forces one to concentrate one's work even more tightly into the other six days of the week.

Tomorrow: the final week of summer school instruction before finals. Plus more packing. Vitamin C, Advil, and heating pads are definitely in order...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Konstantina's Question...

A good while ago, a woman named Konstantina commented on my post about our recent trip to the Holy Archangels Monastery in Kendalia. She asked what might cause traditions now confined mostly to monasteries and certain parishes (in the comment in question, head coverings and separation of the sexes in worship were mentioned). Finally, I responded to her, but thought that she might notice a response better through a new post. That, and I find it something worthy of a post. So...

"My apologies for not responding earlier. My parish priest generally says that, if you want to effect change in a parish, embody the change you wish to see. If God blesses it, it'll spread. My wife prays with her head covered. No one prompted her to do this (especially not I, though I was happy when she said she'd start doing it). A Syrian woman and several Russian/Ukrainian women in our parish do, as well. Most don't, and that's fine, in the end, I suppose.

"If women start to see a trend developing, perhaps more will take up the practice. Perhaps more men will start to "shift to the right" if more men do so (especially in family situations, with fathers on right, mothers on left).

"An increased exposure to monasticism in America is absolutely essential not only to customs such as these, but to an entire Orthodox prayer life and tradition of the surrender of one's heart to Christ. We are babes in this country and need to drink as deeply from these monastic waters as we can (knowing, of course, that monastics are not perfect, either, and are, at times, even ruled by their sinful passions -- another monastery that no longer exists in Texas is proof of that -- but by and large, where the tradition is upheld and kept, we are blessed to be exposed to them). By their increased witness here -- may God grant! -- I think we'll see the biggest leaps forward in preserving and passing down an authentic Orthodox identity.

"Thanks for your comment."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Jibril

My sister's baby boy, Jibril, is the son of a Muslim man. Today (7/13) is a commemoration of the Archangel Gabriel. Jibril will grow up with a reverence for his namesake, but not for the One Whom he announced to the Theotokos. Pray that the good Archangel would reveal the True God to my nephew.

Troparion - Tone 4

Gabriel, commander of the heavenly hosts,
we who are unworthy beseech you,
by your prayers encompass us beneath the wings of your immaterial glory,
and faithfully faithfully preserve us who fall down and cry to you:
"Deliver us from all harm, for you are the commander of the powers on high!"

Kontakion - Tone 2

You look upon God's glory in heaven,
and bring grace from on high to earth,
wise Gabriel, leader of angels,
minister of God's glory, and divine defender of the world!
Save and preserve those who cry to you:
"Be our defense, so that no one can be against us!"

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Empty(ing) House and Finding Peace

Today being a day of rest, we took a break from the standard boxing, hauling, and showing of the house, especially since we had no scheduled showings for today.

Or so we thought.

What we found out this afternoon was that a showing we had thought would be yesterday afternoon was actually for this afternoon -- the house, of course, was a mess. Still, they were enchanted (random articles of clothing and large, cardboard boxes notwithstanding); the woman commented on a "peace" the house had about it.

The offer was put in this afternoon. We're waiting to find out the amount from our realtor. Go fig.

Several things have been moved via the marvel that is craigslist; the house is looking much less crowded. A piano we had brought over from our parish's old building was passed on to our -- sponsees? godchildren who are our age? -- who wanted it.

What you see here to the right is the surprise "payment" for my help in moving the piano. Let it be known (as I found out John, my godson, swings by here to read from time to time) that I do not consider this as payment for something I was fully planning on insisting on doing for free, but rather a generous gift between friends, a giver who very thoughtfully remembered what I'd mentioned one time as my drink of choice.

So thank you, John.

Also resigned from my school district this past week. It's noticeable -- and a bit surprising, really -- how I am not at all perturbed by a sudden "uprootedness" that this move has thrust upon us. Somewhat disturbing, actually, is that I've succumbed in the first place to the "clingy" type of rootedness (as in, the bad kind wherein one is addicted to security, rather than the good rootedness that comes from attachment to land and family), as such was not always the case. Regardless, with no job come September, peace -- perhaps the one our potential buyer may have picked up on -- has settled in long before some of these major pieces started falling into place (Thank God).

Our parish priest spoke a week ago in liturgy about how "trusting in princes, in the sons of men" nowadays translates to "trusting in a depersonalized" -- and, I would add, depersonalizing -- "system" instead of God. It isn't that the two are always opposed to one another, but when one's confidence is shaken when the corporation, school district, or sugar daddy who had been writing the checks suddenly cuts the cord, then there's a failure to recognize the One truly providing for us behind the scenes. For about a week, we were moving across the country with no job guaranteed for my wife (this has since changed, thank God) and no job here for me. Loose ends still exist regarding finances (welcome to life, I suppose), but individuals have already contacted us about support. God is not without his workers. God grant we would be some ourselves.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

David Bentley Hart on Predestination

From his talk, "The Doors of the Sea," regarding Calvinist teachings on predestination:

“The curious absurdity of such all such doctrines is that, out of a pious anxiety to defend God’s transcendence against any scintilla of genuine creaturely freedom, they threaten effectively to collapse that transcendence into absolute identity — with the world, with us, with the devil. For, unless the world is truly set apart from God and possesses a dependent but real liberty of its own analogous to the freedom of God, everything is merely a fragment of divine volition, and God is simply the totality of all that is and all that happens; there is no creation, but only an oddly pantheistic expression of God’s unadulterated power.

...

“For, after all, if it is from Christ that we are to learn how God relates himself to sin, suffering, evil, and death, it would seem that he provides us little evidence of anything other than a regal, relentless, and miraculous enmity; sin he forgives, suffering he heals, evil he casts out, and death he conquers. And absolutely nowhere does Christ act as if any of these things are part of the eternal work or purposes of God.”