Monday, May 30, 2005

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Repentant Ragamuffins

Wow...several posts from yesterday evening to this morning: couldn't sleep this AM, though, so this loooong post is the result. Sorry, but I'd appreciate your comments:

I remembered last night that Luke Seraphim posted a while back about Brennan Manning's The Ragamuffin Gospel. Been re-reading RG the past couple of days and read LS's review again this morning. I think he's got it right.

From his review:
"...despite how much I like the book, I would guess that the tendency for many would be to lean towards the "cheap grace" view of God and the Church after reading it. Grace certainly is not cheap, and I don't in any way believe that Manning implies so. Any leaning toward this idea would most likely be from our own agendas rather than his...I think Manning does a wonderful job capturing the heart of God, as Abba, and portraying in words the overwhelming love and grace that He pours out on us, his children."
This quote sums up my take on what I have read so far. To begin with, Manning (unfortunately) sounds like he is doing what so many Christian confessions do: confusing the acceptance of God with the salvation of God. This, I know, was not his intent--though indeed, the two seem to be interchangeable in western Christian thought, as it is ultimately God's acceptance of us (as opposed to His opposition and enmity with us) that will save us--but certain statements leave out the very real issue of repentance on the part of the ragamuffin.

From the book:
"Jesus was accused of being a drunkard and a glutton [with] donkey-peddlers, prostitutes, herdsmen, sloumlords, and gamblers...[and these] ragamuffins discovered that sharing a meal with him was a liberationg experience of sheer joy. He freed them from self-hatred, exhorted them not to confuse their perception of themselves with the mystery they really were, gave them what they needed more than anything else--encouragement for their lives--and dilevered reassuring words such as 'Do not live in fear, little flock; don't be afraid; fear is useless, what is needed is trust; stop worrying; cheer up--your sins are all forgiven.'"
Yes, these words were given out, and they are reassuring, no doubt about it. But what were the first words we heard from Christ in His public ministry? "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" Do they really need "encouragement for their lives" more than actual holiness? Indeed, Zacchaeus, the woman caught in adultery, the prostitute who anointed His feet--all of these figures are significant not only for their being human and sinful and yet allowed in the presence of God, but also for their being repentant and therefore being able to stomach the presence of the holy God-Man. Figures like these are propped up, sans mention of repentance, against self-righteous figures like the rich young ruler who, because of their confidence in keeping the commandments, left Christ with gloom, as opposed to the "ragamuffins," who were moral degenerates who knew they had nothing on God and who were joyously responsive to His grace. This is nice, but the two traits--being morally bankrupt and ALSO repentant--do not necessarily walk hand in hand, and this is what Manning misses, I think. What of the ragamuffins who want nothing to do with repentance? What of their meals with the Master? (of which we never read, but still).

Manning has already twice mentioned (I'm only in Chapter Four) that one of the hallmarks of those who can't deal with the gospel of grace (as he puts it) is the inevitable mentioning of the "heresy of universalism," as though it were some cheap cop-out to dealing with God's amazing grace instead of a very real heresy and the reality of "the way to life is narrow" a very real threat to those who do not repent. I do wonder why Manning is so quick to dismiss this with almost a literary "roll of the eyes."

Now--lest you, gentle reader, think me a hopeless stick-in-the-mud who plans to work his own way to heaven, let me tell you why I absolutely love this very imperfect book, and what this reason has to do with Pascha. LS wrote that "Manning does a wonderful job capturing the heart of God, as Abba, and portraying in words the overwhelming love and grace that He pours out on us, his children." This is very true, and essential to the gospel. I may harp on the necessity of repentance, but it is a repentance that is available, without the slightest stinginess or hesitation on the Lord's part, as much to the devout, rich young rulers whose ragamuffinness extends to missing Sunday School as it does to the prostitute who turns tricks for crack. He will let all come--and, indeed, begs us all, from all eternity, to do just that--regardless of who we are, as long as we come with the knowledge that we have absolutely no claim to this banquet.

This is the season of Pascha--the Passover, or Resurrection--in Orthodoxy, and one of the characteristics of that feast (and the weeks that follow it) is a flinging open of all the doors to the altar in an unmistakeable statement that God is for us, that we are now, always have been, and always will be loved unconditionally by God, that we are accepted by Him simply because we are human beings created in His image and that He will accept us all--He already has!--and that we will receive this acceptance if we will only come home. Yet we must come home with a proper understanding of Who our Father, our Daddy, our Abba is and who we are...and here it must be emphatically said that this is NOT because God will be offended at our stench and filth--God loves us ragamuffins and will be no other way towards us--but because we, unrepentant and proud, are enemies in our hearts towards God if unrepentant and, were we to come home with an improper understanding of "the run of the house," living there would literally be hell for us.

Make no mistake: as Manning says, our Abba, our Creator, our "Daddy" loves us beyond what we can even comprehend. This will never change. No matter what we do or say to Him or to others. His love for us and acceptance of us is based on the fact that we are humans, period. Moreover, He does not demand that we arrive at purity before fellowshipping with Him--only that we recognize that we NEED purity and that, even though we take steps towards God, however falteringly, the fact that those steps are on water serves as a reminder that our progress is not ultimately due to our own cleverness or stamina.

Repentance, then, is not a call to "clean up for God's sake" so He'll be able to stand being around us or justified (in whose sight?!) in "letting us into His presence"; rather it's a call to humble ourselves for OUR sake--as we're the ones who need change--so we can not only stand to be around God, but appreciate, thrive and revel in the never-changing, all-consuming, furious, undeserved and unconditional love that God our Father has for us.

Christ is risen!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Da Vinci Debunked

A wonderful series of seven posts (here begins the seventh one, with links to the other six) by Fr. Joseph Huneycutt on his blog, ORTHODIXIE, which takes Dan Brown's ridiculous novel and rips it a new one. Excellent work.

Nine Months!

Well, we celebrated nine months of pregnancy on Thursday--Audra is ready to get this overwith already!--even so, though, she's looking great.

OK, really. I know I'm the man in this situation, therefore my opinion has less than no value when it all comes down to it, but this is the most amazing thing in the world to me...there's a baby in there!! My wife is carrying within her a new person, who will get her start in life with us. Lord have mercy. What a miracle.

What's the Cause of It?

Well it's raining in Ft. Worth--the first rain we've had in a very hot month, + thanks be to God--and it seemed the perfect weather for Audra to pop in "All Creatures Great and Small," an old BBC series she rented on Netflix. We looked at each other after one of the characters looked over at his brother and said something to the effect of, "In short, brother, you are at liberty. But I must needs remind you not to confuse this liberty...with license," and expressed our mutual frustration at the total inability of 99% of America's youth--all right, perhaps not that much, but still--to understand that sentence (or any that even remotely approaches it in terms of vocabulary) or to respond in kind. The result of this lack of common usage is that we must now use more words to ultimately describe what we mean, but what is the cause of it?

I find it odd (and sad) that even lower-class English citizens possess a larger vocabulary than most Americans...

Through the Prayers of Ss. Benedict and Gregory Diologos, May Their Souls Be Saved

Well, it's finally done: the boys at Lancelot Andrewes Press have finally finished the Monastic Diurnal Noted, availiable now for use in Western Rite Orthodox parishes!

From the website:

"The Monastic Diurnal Noted is a complete Gregorian Antiphonal in English, containing all the Antiphons, Hymn Tunes, and Responsories of the Day Hours of the Benedictine Divine Office (the seven canonical Hours, excluding the midnight office of Matins)."

Friday, May 27, 2005

Me Acabé...

I'm done...

Just had the last admin sign off on my "checkout checklist" about two hours ago; am now sitting here at my computer with a cold Tecate, grateful that another year has come to an to find a summer "filler!"

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Giving Up and Digging In

Well, it's official, as far as I can tell. I'm going to be teaching next fall, plus.

Sad to say, there's just not a whole lot out there for us language people. I call my job search, "Making a Main Course out of a Side Dish." Knowing two languages fluently sure does make employer's ears perk up, but it always comes down to, "All right, you can translate...but what else do you do?

Sigh...used to be a company would hire the language guy, and hire the "other" guy, then have them work together. Not in this economy! So, alas, I am forced (pshaw, RIGHT...forced to do what I actually LIKE) to stay on as a teacher...I suppose I should say forced to take on a part-time both during the summer and the coming school year to wage war against the Man and his Bill Collectors.

Audra -- my lovely who really should be represented in jpeg here again before the blessed event! -- will be staying home to care for Esperancita (li'l Hope!) while Papi works outside the home. This is exciting and disturbing for me, for several reasons.

Excites because... I truly think God has put this child (and the extra work it will inevitably entail) in my life to teach me, truly, how to work my ass off. 'Cause, baby, I stink at that. I can work--last-minute pressure will turn me into the most productive guy you've ever seen--but it's hard for me to realize that my times are in God's hands. And that that doesn't just mean that He knows what'll happen to us and will care for us; it also means that "my" time is truly His! Oh, my Lord: teach me to offer up even my time to You, for I will need You to heal and transfigure it, so I can redeem it with my family.

Disturbes because... The options I have before me pose both a threat and potential. When a man is consumed with the thought of (primarily monetarily) providing for his family, the danger exists that he will begin to see everything as a "job"...including time spent with his family (" more demand of me; one more responsibility..."). Teachers are required to do a certain amount, but expected to do much more, and this is why teachers put in 50, 60 hour work weeks. Add ESL night classes or night high school classes or what have you, and you're looking at a man who's stretched a mile wide and an inch deep. Or so it seems to me now.

The words of Rich Mullins come back to me here: in talking (or, rather, singing) about his parents and what really matters in parenting, he says, "You talk about your miracles / You talk about your faith / My dad, he could make things grow / Out of Indiana clay / Mom could make a gourmet meal / Out of just cornbread and beans / And they worked to give faith hands and feet / And somehow gave it wings."

(Speaking of what really matters, take a look at what St. Joseph the Betrothed is known for providing for our Lord.)

St. Joseph, foster father of our Lord, pray for me as I learn to lay aside distractions and how to provide what really matters for my loved ones. Lord, have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord. Have. Mercy.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

More Construction -- The Interior

Siding on the front of building, and building wrap around the side! Next -- the cut limestone to go around the bottom of the building.

Up-close view of "onion-esque" top of front entrance. Father said today that the dome would be a gold one, and almost as tall as the rest of the building!

Front view from the "narthex" of the nave and sanctuary.

View from an angle of the ambon, where the iconostasis and sanctuary will be.

Taken from the ambon, this is a pic of the classrooms that will be on the side of the building; the corresponding area on the other side of the building will, I think, be the kitchen.

Friday, May 20, 2005

"That's Just Your Interpretation"

Was reading a friend's blog--he's become a staunch Evangelical Protestant over the years I became Orthodox--and the idea came up that we non-Protestants have no right to say to Protestants that a certain verse of Scripture is "just their erroneous interpretation," for after all, we as Roman Catholics and Orthodox (we're always getting lumped together) have to interpret the infallible decisions our churches issue (which, in his eyes, apparently happens all the time), thus moving the pesky issue of "personal interpretation" down a notch, but by no means removing it entirely, as is our claim.

From Tertullian, a second century bishop who later lapsed into heresy and renounced ideas like the following, on the reason for uniformity of doctrine within the Early Church:
It is not believeable to say that the apostles were either ignorant of the whole scope of the message which they had to declare, or that they failed to make known to all men the entire rule of faith. Let us see, then, whether--even though the apostles proclaimed it simply and fully--the churches, through their own fault, proclaimed it differently than had the apostles. You will find that the heretics put forward all these suggestions of distrust.... Suppose, then, that all churches have erred. Suppose that the apostle was mistaken in giving his testimony. Suppose that the Holy Spirit had insufficient concern for any one church as to lead it into truth--although He was sent for this reason by Christ.... Suppose also, that He, the Steward of God, the Vicar of Christ, neglected His office, permitting the churches for a time to understand differently--to believe differently--than what He Himself was preaching through the apostles. If so, is it likely that so many churches, and they so great, should have gone astray into one and the same faith? No accident distributed among many men leads to one and the same result. Error of doctrine in the churches must necessarily have produced various results. However, when that which is deposited among many is found to be one and the same--it is not the result of men, but of tradition. Can anyone, then, be reckless enough to say that the ones who handed on the tradition were in error?
While there were very real controversies in the early Church over various things--the exact layout of the Trinity, the church calendar, the exact way in which Christ was divine--many of the "big issues" Protestants raise are answered uniformly by this tradition of the universal Church. I know it was personally this consensus that made me make the jump from Baptist to examine the ancient apostolic communions' claims. While I do grant that it ultimately was *my* (perhaps erroneous? Not that I can tell, but...) decision to join the Orthodox Church, I find some comfort in knowing that, in all the Churches that follow this tradition--only 3: The Orthodox, the Catholics, and the Non-Chalcedonian churches--this former Evalgelical's "big issues" of
  • baptismal regeneration (yes)
  • infant baptism (yes)
  • salvation by faith AND works (theosis and synergy in the ancient Church)
  • eternal security (no such thing--we keep the free will to disobey and leave)
  • the Real Presence (oh yeah)
  • Episcopal Church government (St. Ignatius of Antioch)
  • Apostolic Succession (a must)
  • liturgical worship (by 110 AD it was universally recorded)
  • the promise of the Lord to lead His Church in all (that's ALL) truth, victorious against the gates of hell (taken seriously)
  • prayers for the dead and to the departed saints (St. Polycarp and catacomb walls)
  • use of imagery in worship (catacombs and churches)
  • the role of the Theotokos (Mary) in our salvation (the new Eve)
  • the Deuterocanonical books (not given a "free pass" by all the fathers, but highly honored as, at worst, a "second canon," a mere step down from Scripture)
...all of these were answered with one voice by the early Church. No need to interpret; the answer's right there.

This is the interpretation of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church -- and the 2 heresies that have since split from Her yet still attempt to honor the Tradition (which says something about the clarity of said Tradition!). If an individual--much less a whole confession!--reads differently into any of this, they have a sure recourse; the receptors of the apostles' own words--who sat at their feet for years and heard elaborations of the Christian faith from them--all show us if we err in these matters. Thanks be to God for His Church and the confession and traditions--whether by word or by epistle (2 Thess. 2:15)--of the apostles on which She was founded.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

An excellent post on communion as inclusion and exclusion on the famed blog Paradosis.

More Church Construction Pics

The roof...the roof...the roof is That's it. The roof is on.

View from the front entrance of the All-Purpose Building.

Close-up of the entrance.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Guarding Your Senses

It's been said that those who were used by God were not trying to be used by God when they were called to do great and mighty things. Gideon was hiding in a wine press; David and Moses were tending sheep; Joshua was scrubbing prison cells after being betrayed and framed; St. Peter was fishing.

No, I'm not saying that something's happened to me that is on par with leading troops into battle or anything else. Just that, in the ordinary "hum-drum" of the life of this Spanish teacher--which, thank God, has of late been fairly constant and marked with more faithful prayer than usual--there has been a constant perferation thoughout the last few days of a Voice that I feel I can safely call the Holy Spirit. Why this simple idea/phrase hasn't always occurred to me I can only attribute to my own pig-headedness, but several times throughout the last few days, my priest's first words to me during a confession (not even my most recent one!) come back to me: "Guard your senses."

St. Paul tells the Romans and us to "be transformed by the renewing of your 'mind,'" though the word in Greek is actually nous, which the Fathers defined as that part of you that is utterly focused on certain things and can be turned in complete attention and stillness to God. One's nous, being part of our body--forgive me here if I sound condescending; I'm actually a bit embarrased, as this is more for my own fleshing out of this simpler-than-usual idea...thinking out loud, if you will--is affected by the "gateways of the body," or the eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and skin (particularly the hands). Stimuli come in through sights, sounds, tastes, smells and sensations and can serve to distract one's nous from focus on God, its one true Destination and Home, even to the extent of being the things it lives for, of which it considers itself the servant. Living for this physical world and its sensations, it loses sight of its Maker and embraces the fallen creation as master.

When, however, we engage in the ascesis of the Church--fasting, prayer, silence, stillness, charitable works, confession--we cut off these sensations to a degree and reign in the abused passions they have inflamed in order to regain stillness and silence, to allow our nous to see God again, so that it can recognize Him as the Author, Source, Sustainer, Finisher and Purpose of our lives. We don't condemn stimulii as bad in and of themselves--certain stimulii, yes, but not as a whole--as the physical realm, being created by God, is good and can be redeemed. Likewise, there are "passions," or emotional responses to stimulii that are sinful and others that are not (the latter often referred to by the Fathers simply as "passions," though all emotions could be called this), but when we "offer [our] bodies as living sacrifices," as St. Paul says directly before the nous quote, we sacrifice much of what stimulates us precisely because we are being led away by our senses from He Who is the One True Food, Who will one day eliminate the need--along with all the panicked responses to it--to sustain this life through physical food, to see via light, to satisfy our desire for novelty through new smells, tastes, etc., as He Himself will be our Light, our Food, our Satisfaction.

So it is that this has been rolling around in my--nous, I suppose--and over several days, in a vast variety of situations, my call has been to remember where my chrism went when I was received into Holy Mother Church and to guard my thoughts, my ears, my eyes, my actions, my impulses, my appetites...and thus to remember God in uninterrupted stillness (yes, even in the midst of a hectic school day!).

So I'll leave y'all with that, too: Guard your senses.

Monday, May 09, 2005

More Life Lost...

Well, prom for my school was last weekend, and yesterday--Mother's Day, while I was out treating my mom to lunch--I got a call from the head of the Spanish department saying that a young man had been shot at an after-prom party--wasn't doing anything himself, didn't get involved in a fight or anything...someone just started shooting and he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Stupid fucking kid--the shooter, not the victim, pardon my language, my thoughts just got away from me...think I actually will keep that lovely little phrase, though; seems to summarize my feelings right now.

What's even harder for me is, unlike the young lady who also was killed earlier this year (2nd part of the entry), I actually knew and had taught this young man (Victor, if you care to remember him and/or his family in prayer), and while he wasn't the brightest bulb in the box, he was always respectful, never a discipline problem...was going to graduate this year. Damn, damn shame.

Be mindful, O Lord of Victor, who has fallen asleep in the hope of resurrection and eternal life; pardon all his transgressions, both voluntary and involuntary, whether in word, or deed, or thought...shelter him in a place of brightness, a place of verdure, a place of repose, whence all sickness, sorrow and sighing have fled away, and where the sight of Your Countenance rejoices all Your saints from all ages. Grant him Your Kingdom, and a portion in Your ineffable and eternal blessings, and the enjoyment of Your unending life. For You are the Resurrection and the Life and the Repose of Your departed servants, O Christ our God, and unto You we ascribe glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

St. Alexis' Work, God's Increase....

Pictures of the Project Mexico trip some of the parishoners at St. Mary's Cathedral took; this truly is the work of the Church! To go, witness, help the poor...St. Alexis' work to establish this Church was not in vain!

The priest blessing a newly built house:

The mother of the family who would receive the house crying:

The family with icon of the Holy Theotokos and Child alongside their new house:

Glory to God for the Increase, and thanks be to His faithful servant Alexis!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

St. Alexis Toth

Today the Orthodox Church commemorates St. Alexis Toth, a saint of the late 19th, early 20th Century. The following image, troparion, and information regarding his life is from

(Tone 4)
O righteous Father Alexis,
Our heavenly intercessor and teacher,
divine adornment of the Church of Christ,
Entreat the Master of All
to strengthen the Orthodox Faith in America,
to grant peace to the world
And to our souls great mercy.

St. Alexis was born in Austro-Hungary on March 18, 1854 to a poor Carpatho-Russian family. He was married and they had a child. He was ordained to the priesthood in the Uniate (Eastern Rite Catholic) Church on April 18, 1878. His wife and child died shortly after that, while he was serving as a parish priest. In October 1889, Alexis was appointed as priest of a Uniate parish in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When he presented his credentials to the American Catholic archbishop, he was treated with open hostility. He knew his rights under canon law, so he convened a meeting of eight of the ten Unia priests in America at Wilkes-Barre who petitioned the bishops of Eastern Europe to aid them, but they would not. He feared deportation and told his congregation that he should just return to Europe. They said "No". They had been under foreign domination long enough. They told Father Alexis to go to the Russian Orthodox bishop. Bishop Vladimir came to Minneapolis and on March 25, 1891, received Father Toth and 361 parishioners into the Orthodox Church of their ancestors. The parishioners regarded this event as a new Triumph of Orthodoxy, crying out with joy: "Glory to God for His great mercy!" That is St. Mary's OCA. The Saint went on to form or lead back to Orthodoxy 16 additional communities. He traveled to Southern New Jersey to try to regain his health in late 1908. Then he returned to Wilkes-Barre where he was confined to bed for his last months. He reposed on Friday, May 7, 1909. His relics were laid to rest at St. Tikhon's Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania.

TPR Conference

Cristo ha resucitado...

It is my firm belief that Total Physical Response (or TPR, as it's known among us modern language teachers) is the best way for folks with no prior experience to learn a second language. I've used it all during this year and, while not all of my kids have become Spanish whizzes, even the lowest achievers have undoubtedly come away with a much greater ability to understand things that students from prior years would have had no clue about.

And this comes just from reading the books about it. So I'm going to attend a workshop in late July (paid for by the wonderful head of foreign languages for the District who, even though she knew I was looking around for other employment and might not be back next fall (though I most likely actually will), agreed to pay for this summer activity!). This workshop basically is a first-hand and hands-on application of what I've read about--the sort of "living tradition" that serves to complement the mere "book-larnin'" I've been running on this past year.

So I'm excited. Also hoping to land a position as a Summer School teacher. What can I say, folks? I've been educated to be an educator; this is what I love, even if the kids can be little $#!+heads sometimes. The extra paycheck that'll see us through the summer is always nice, too. If not, then it's off to the Global Language Center here in Ft. Worth for pt. time Spanish tutoring and/or translation work to make ends meet.

Gloria a Dios en todas las cosas...

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Reflections on Pascha...

Perhaps I'm just easily enthused (some would say that's bad; I don't know what I think about it), but Pascha always excites me. There was an air this year of finality to the Great Fast, a knowledge that one period was rapidly coming to a close, and another, very different period was fast approaching...we mourned over the Lord's Passion and Burial but, like those who've seen this movie before, did not mourn as our Lady must have. We had in mind the coming Resurrection...indeed, when the lights all went out in our church on Saturday night and the familiar strains of "Thy Resurrection, O Christ our Savior"--sung by our priest and his two sons--began to float back through the nave, when the light wandered back from candle to candle, when we slowly plodded around our building, icons and cross before us, when we sang and listened to the Gospel on our "front porch"--there was an anticipation for the coming release, a release one couldn't help but hear afterwards in every booming reply of "Indeed, He is risen!" shouted by the faithful.

Release from what? From fasting? Well, I was on a "protein high" for most of Sunday afternoon, happy to say yes to the free samples in the Wal-Mart Supercenter without having to stop and think, but there's obviously more to it (or, at least, there should be) than that...I always like to refer to the Resurrection as the "Great Remembering," or the idea that we will not be forgotten (This speaks to me, mostly because I can be quite the attention junkie). If Orthodox services, as I have just recently said, mystically take us to the "eternal nowness" of an event that happened in the past, then the passage from Great Lent to Great and Holy Pascha is especially significant. Great Lent has been called "the Church on the way," or the Church as journey. While the very purpose of the Church is to proclaim the Kingdom of God which is here and now, within Her sacramental life, there's also an awareness that we're not "there" yet, that we're still moving towards the ultimate dénouement of His glory...Great Lent, with all of its Old Testament readings and penitential prayers, reminds us that something is still horribly wrong, and that we are still lost in our own fog of self-importance, and that, in our desire to preserve ourselves we only see that fog lifted, if only partially, when we allow ourselves to beg of Christ that He remember us when He comes in His Kingdom.

Pascha is, and always has been, His answer. The Doors to Heaven are flung unmistakeably open and we are reminded that Death, the ultimate swallower of Man, the ultimate oblivion which threatens to erase us completely from Creation, is overcome by Someone Who--let it never be doubted--is trustworthy and Who is able to, has and will again overcome every hospital flatline, every shovelful of dirt, every moment of decay. He overcame it in His own case, and tells us that He means to overcome it in all of ours, as well.

"If we endure with Him, we shall reign with Him." Many times the thought has crossed my mind, "Yes, but...what good will the Resurrection be if I am only to experience it through an unpurified heart?" My thoughts, though, inevitably turn back to the fact that, if I do indeed meet my Savior at the Resurrection with an unclean heart, it will be because such a heart does not truly wish to be remembered, that it actually prefers the oblivion of forgetfulness. It most certainly will not be because my Lord, God and Savior, Who took flesh, suffered, died and rose for me does not desire me (in all my unavoidable unworthiness). And who can look at the icon of the descent into Hades and see a God who would have nothing to do with fallen Man? Who can see the sure grip of a Maker on the hands of His first creatures and doubt for one second that, though He will not take the steps for us, will always uphold us on the waters of our lives' oceans as we step out to Him?

We are not now, nor shall we ever be forgotten, and our Home--as well as our Hope Who lives and waits there now--proclaims His love from the maw of an empty tomb, declares His unchanging determination to welcome home any and all prodigals who "will arise and go" home to the Father.

Christ IS Risen!

Stupid Ouzo...

OK, so I consider myself a fairly experienced drinker when it comes to alcohol. I brought the Sauza 3Gs Añejo that I wrote about before to Pascha, had three shots and was none the worse for wear. Paschal Vespers the next afternoon, two shots of vodka, and nothin'. I know my limits when it comes to these two drinks, and I was doing OK. What I did next, however, was world-class dumb: I tried something new--Ouzo, a Greek liquor that is licorice-flavored (nasty, imo)--on top of having already drunk two shots of vodka. Didn't get drunk--never have been--but I got too tipsy to drive there for about a half an hour, forty-five min., and had to wait around for the effects to wear off. I hate even getting tipsy. It's such a waste of fine motor skills. Should my priest decide to rib me, though, about my Ouzo adventure, I can always come back and say that he, while perfectly sober, called tequila "Keteela." Who's tongue-tied now, eh?

A lesson learned on an otherwise unblemished and thoroughly glorious Pascha, about which I will (Lord willing) write soon.

Monday, May 02, 2005

¡Cristo Ha Resucitado!

¡Cristo ha resucitado de entre los muertos, pisoteando la muerte con la muerte, y otorgando la vida a los que yacían en los sepulcros!

Espero que todos Ustedes tuvieran una Pascua bendita y que tengan una "Semana Brillante" maravilloso.

(Hope y'all had a blessed Pascha and that you have a wonderful Bright Week.)

Sunday, May 01, 2005

A view from the center of the building from the entryway...

Christ is risen! And so is our building, partially...

Christ is risen! And our new building is rising, little by little...

A view from the center of the building from the entryway...