Tuesday, August 1, 2017

a guest post: reflecting on babies, fasting & spiritual health

"When a new baby is around, it's very rare for the softness of their skin NOT to be remarked upon. Why? Because, quite simply, it's remarkably soft & smooth. Worthy of remarking upon. When caring for the skin of my sweet boy today, the contrast between his skin & mine was easy to see. 
I'm more weathered, & my first thought was to lament my aging skin. It's been around for 37 years, & my freckles, scars, stretch marks, & fine lines are here to tell many tales. However, I was able to turn my lamentation into thanksgiving & appreciation. My eyes' fine lines reveal a lifetime of emotions experienced, the good & bad. The lines around my mouth & the grooves where my dimples hide speak of countless smiles. The stretch marks on my belly are scars from many victories & one terribly painful yet life giving loss. The callouses on my hands & feet are from hard work & adventuring, game playing & dancing, writing & being stepped on by the precious ones always at my feet. 
My second thoughts were of how hard we strive to take care of our skin as we age. We notice wrinkles, discoloration, dry skin, & yellowing teeth, so we buy creams for our eyes, use oils, put hope in lotions that promise intense moisturizing results, & hunt for the ultimate whitening toothpaste. 
If only we noticed the signs that our souls are taking a beating or being neglected just as easily! We look closely at our hands, feet, hair, face, teeth, & bodies so often, but do we really take the time to look closely at the condition of our souls?
 I strive for nightly reflection, but I will certainly admit to occasional weeklong neglect when it comes to deep contemplation. 
Would I ever not brush my teeth for a week? 
Certainly not! 
How dry, wrinkled, & stained have our souls become? May we notice the signs & care for our souls, for they are lasting! For they are so much more precious than these bodies we will leave behind! Let us nourish them in the Lenten Spring! One thing is for sure, I'm hoping to make it a point to brush my teeth & apply rosehip oil to my face as reminders to care for my soul from this day forward. So let it be posted. So let it be done!" ---Susan Deane

This reflection is perfect for the beginning of the Dormition Fast! Thank you, Susan! 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

fun at church: when your 3-year-old asks "Does Father feed us because church is so long?"

daughter #1 'helping' her dad in the chancery office when she was 1 
  • Just this Sunday, my six month old pulled at a ribbon decorating a tall candle on the tetrapod - it immediately spills hot wax all over... my dress, the floor, and thank God not her little bare legs or my own! I was next for communion so I received after a quick wax check, closing my mouth on the spoon because I'd completely lost my composure. My three year old then prayed after liturgy that her family not get burned.
  • My husband boldly took over singing a hymn as the cantor received communion, but he didn't know the rest of the verse so he fudged it with until someone else jumped in. 
  • Three year old regularly grabs large handfuls of blessed bread. When we visit other parishes that puts smaller trays or larger chunks out, this can cause her to take a third of it.
  • My kid has done the handful thing too! Or digs through the basket to find a satisfactory piece. *face palm* She's better about it now, depending on how hungry she is...

  • This tike, Harry, has a knack for knowing priests. I remember when I was with some folks, and Vespers had been more or less canceled. The kiddo kept looking through the door, saying "Father Michael.." When Father George came back from sabbatical, he would mutter "Father George... Father George.. Father George Gray.."
  • My son at about 15 months had picked up a 'salty' word from, I  ashamed to say , my mother. Right in the middle of the consecration he decides to use his new word very loudly many times. So, I 'go over' another word with him loudly enough to be heard for a few pews....  "FORK, yes, fork, it goes with spoon. Can you say spoon "
  • In Dublin, at Fr. Serge Kelleher's Ukrainian Greek Catholic mission at St. Kevin's Oratory, in the basement of St. Mary's Pro Cathedral. He had a young parish, consisting mainly of Slavic families from all over, many with infants and toddlers. As the Oratory was not built for Byzantine worship, they had a collapsible Iconostasis, on the same level as the nave. During the Divine Liturgy (conducted in a mix of Slavonic, modern Ukrainian, and Irish Gaelic, one little boy, about 18 months old, was fascinated by Fr. Serge, and kept crawling over to the Royal Doors. Three times he crawled over, and three times one of his parents retrieved him. On the fourth try, however, his parents were distracted by his baby sister, and he managed to crawl all the way across the floor, under the doors, and right up to Fr. Serge, standing at the the Holy Table. He tugs on Fr. Serge's Phelonion. Fr. Serge looks down, and, in mid chant, bends over, reverses the baby, gives him a pat on his bottom, and sends him back out, under the doors, to his parents. Fr. Serge never missed a beat, and the Liturgy was not disrupted.
  •  I wait for the days when my children will ask if giving money to the church is tipping God
  • We help prompt our daughter to pray to Jesus after receiving communion. Once she said, it's time to eat donuts, Jesus!
Thanks, readers, for sharing some funnies! Write more in the comments below!

Dormition of Saint Anne, mother of Mary the Theotokos

O godly, ever-blessed Anna, thou didst bear the pure Mother of God who conceived Him Who is our life. Thou hast now passed to heaven/ and art rejoicing in glory, asking forgiveness for those who faithfully honour thee. 
We celebrate the memory of the ancestors of Christ/ and faithfully ask their help; that all may be delivered from every affliction who cry: Be with us, O God, for it pleased Thee to glorify them. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

a feast day for the holy prophet Elijah

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

Elijah- man of contradictions- a saint before the time of Jesus, an 'angel in the flesh' 
Pray for us! 
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