St. Paisius

To recap some of the past, Carolyn did get sick — strep and influenza, at the same time. This caused her (and Amy) to miss our planned family vacation to St. Paisius Serbian Orthodox Monastery near Safford, Arizona. William and I went anyway — the plane tickets were paid for, and I had not chosen refundable tickets. Whoops! Well, the monastery is beautiful, and the nuns are quite amazing and pious, and Mother Abbess Mikhaila (did I spell it correctly?) is a wonderful and holy spiritual leader.

Will got sick the day after we arrived. Then my allergies kicked in. Then I got pretty sick (a sinus infection). We had a wonderful time, but it was hard being so sick. William loved it — since returning, he has cried a few times sorrowfully, and when asked what is the matter, says he misses the monastery.

But! We are all well now, and we had a wonderful Holy Week and Pascha — Carolyn again was one of the myrrh-bearers, and I was privileged to serve in the altar on Great Friday afternoon and evening. Yesterday was a wonderful vesperal leave-taking of Pascha and FUN celebration at church — lamb, food, food and more food, and dancing (both American and Greek)… a little swing for us. We have yet to learn any Greek dancing! We were there celebrating for about three and a half hours after Vespers. My soul is happy, and I am so joyful and blessed to be part of such a wonderful family of the Orthodox faith.

Holy Cross

Holy Cross

Save O Lord your people and bless your inheritance. Grant victory to the faithful against the adversaries of the Faith, and protect your people through your Holy Cross, Your Holy Cross!

I hope you all had a blessed celebration of the Holy Cross!

Prayers for Carolyn, please — she has had a fever all day. I stayed home from liturgy with her and we had our own procession with the cross pictured here, while singing the troparion.

The Holy Trinity ( Η ΑΓΙΑ ΤΡΙΑΣ )

The Holy Trinity

The icon of the ‘Holy Trinity.’ Also known as the ‘Hospitality of Abraham.’ This icon is one we are blessed to have in our home, and it is based on the story from Genesis:

“And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf that he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat” (KJV, Genesis, 18: 1-8)

a prayer

A Prayer

This photo was taken by my friend, Michael Robinson, while he was visiting Russia on his honeymoon last year. This is the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Theotokos in the Kremlin. The calligraphy (a nice word, derived from the Greek for ‘beautiful writing’, although I don’t know if I can go that far!) was done by me last Sunday before Vespers of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. We celebrated at our Cathedral of the Assumption of the Theotokos here in Denver — it was a beautiful pan-Orthodox service, we had fifteen priests and three deacons, Fr. Apostolos Hill presiding. The inside of Denver’s cathedral is a huge dome covered with hundreds of icons, a perfect place for the occasion!

lack of acceptance

I’ve been really struggling to pray in the mornings. I’ve been in to talk with both of my priests recently, and with one I talked a great deal about prayer. With both I talked a great deal, about a great many things — all somehow related, yet in ways that didn’t seem to fully connect for me at the time. Finally, a couple of weeks ago in my reading, I came across the following passage:

Just as the desert was a commitment to a counter-cultural way of life, so too prayer is the realization that what matters most is not success or the achievement or the productivity encouraged by society. Prayer is acceptance of frailty and failure — first within ourselves, and then to the world around us. When we are able to accept our brokenness, without any pretense and without any pretexts, then we are able to embrace the brokenness of others, valuing everyone else without exception. Prayer is learning to live, without expecting to see results; it is learning to love, without hoping to see return; it is learning to be, without demanding to have.

– “In the Heart of the Desert”, John Chryssavgis, pg. 98

Everything they said has started to make sense. I’ve always realized that I was broken, but I don’t accept it hardly at all. I want to try to “be perfect as the Father in heaven is perfect”. The problem with the former sentence is the “I”. I can’t do it, because, of course, I’m broken. He will have to do the perfecting, the fixing, the healing. Acceptance of frailty and failure — this is a tall order for this man…

I’m thankful for the many examples of this in the church. The one closest to my mind right at this moment is the saint whose blessed memory we celebrated today, Saint Nektarios the Wonderworker, Bishop of Pentapolis. After reading his life (just over a year ago), I fell in love with this beautiful saint who is so humble, and is a modern example of how to live this out (it has been 86 years now since his falling asleep). We had a beautiful liturgy this morning and it was especially poignant to sing of his memory at Orthros with his life in my mind. While I highly recommend reading his life (Saint Nektarios: The Saint of our Century by Soitos Chondropoulos), you can also find out a great deal about him from this online mini biography.

I pray that someday I’m able to learn even a little of this kind of humility.