Monday, April 30, 2007
Flood of Catechumens
Since being received under Bishop Seraphim's omophor nine years ago, St. Herman's church in Langley has seen a slow but steady stream of converts enter the church. However, in recent months the stream has turned to a sudden flood, until the number of catechumens currently totals twenty-nine and a half. Most of these will be received by baptism this Pascha-- which will probably create a literal flood in the church hall, where they will be immersed in the horse trough we use for a font!
Several whole families help to make up the number, including the extended family of a former Mennonite minister who moved here from Vancouver Island in order to embrace Orthodoxy. And the "half"? One of the newer catechumens is "with child"; the entire family will be received in the fall after their newest member is born.
There is a fair bit of shuffling each Sunday, as the catechumens, making up about a third of the congregation, come forward to be prayed over at the litany of the catechumens. Meanwhile, we now need a roster to accommodate readers, altar servers and choir members.
As always, we need to be vigilant and pray. Though we rejoice in growth, we can sometimes see the parable of the sower being played out around us. Still, the possibility of a building of our own is now on the horizon, while several of our members are considering a vocation to the diaconate or priesthood, and, God willing, may one day found other missions in our Archdiocese.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
But, what about that affirmation, does it continue our comfort in the chaotic lifestyle we choose? I live so busily and as a relatively young unmarried man, I assume that whatever path the future takes, I will only become busier unless I, as Annie Dillard puts it, "Go at my life with a broad ax" and take back silence and peace.
We love to take time, go slow and ingore the constraints of time when we are in church. we have nowhere better to be because we are in the Kingdom of God. We pray slowly, we pray long, we do it over again. we take our time to be careful to do it all exactly right, to give honour where it is due, with no thought to our other endeavours. (hopefully, Lord have mercy)
Loud and fast music (which I am currently listening to-Rusty Cage-) brings a spirit of immediacy, a spirit of competition, and a spirit of temporality with it. Constant drum beats bring us back to the ticking of the clock, our beating heart and the fact that we are human. While this is good on some levels, we must always remember our mortality, we also must remain living with one foot in heaven and one foot on earth.
Music changes our presence. when we listen to music that is even formally calm, it reminds us of the eternal nature of heaven, the immortal nature of the soul, and the unending mercy of God. okay, I am getting a bit sermony here, and reading interpretations on to things, but not completely. I think that there is inherent codes formally embedded in music.
Things that cue memories or thoughts or thought patterns. I have been listening to a heavy metal band a bit lately, and it has ramped up the speed with which I live life, and I don't think it is the best thing for me to live in that place. when I am able to go to a quiet place with nothing on the walls and quiet people, the difference is obvious. It is truly peaceful, and there is no rush.
Existence for us is naturally entrenched in a chronological worldview. what time is it, how much time is left. and that often puts us into competition with the clock, ourselves, each other. and I think it is these competitions due to temporality that bring us into conflict. Think about what it would be like to have eternity to live the same life we are living now. we never die, nor do we grow old. we all stay 35-45. (sounds like a good middle ground to me) nobody would fight anyone because in time, everyone could do everything, have everything, see everything, etc etc that they wanted. now, I know I am basing that on fulfilling desires, which are also always corrupt, but you get the point right?
okay. so I started on rock and roll and got to existence and time.
and I originally thought I would talk about the lifestyle examples of rock stars who never have to grow up.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
• You are more comfortable standing in church than sitting.
• You can suck/vacuum up the crumbs of bread out of your hand without coughing.
• You can sing ison to any song (and you know what an ison is… LoL).
• Lent to you means peanut butter, tofu, soy, lots and lots of pita bread and hummus, and services at least five times a week.
• You’re used to skipping breakfast on Sundays.
• On your first encounter with long words, you pronounce them stressing the ‘next to the next to last’ syllable.
• You wonder why the Pope crosses himself backwards when you see him on TV.
• You wear comfortable shoes to church, because you know you’ll be standing a long, long time.
• To you, a ‘topless’ gal is one without a headscarf.
• You get great deals on Easter candy.
• You spend time figuring out the best way to remove smoke stains from your ceiling and wax from your walls.
• Before you pray, you say a prayer.
• You don’t flinch when someone throws water at you.
• When you first tell people who ask what religion you are, at first they think you’re Jewish. Oy!
• You’re experienced at removing wax from clothing.
• The service routinely starts at least 15 minutes late and lasts 2 ½ hours — and nobody around you complains.
• You consider any service two hours or under short/regular.
• You know you’re in an Orthodox church when the priest says, “Let us complete our prayer to the Lord", and there’s still half an hour to go.
• At the end of Holy Week, you have rug burns on your forehead.
• Your Easter isn’t Easter without an all-night party (featuring 10 dishes of sausage with cheese).
• Your priest is married.
• You have seen all members of clergy in purple robes.
• You can differentiate between the eight different chanting tones.
• You typically celebrate a feast day by observing strict fasting.
• You celebrate feast days the night before.
• You address the City as Constantinople instead of Istanbul.
• You can say "Lord have mercy" 40 times without making a mistake.
• You can say "Christ Is Risen"/"Indeed He Is Risen" in a million languages.
• You have tournaments of red-egg-cracking on Pascha... And you usually know who's being a wise-guy with the wooden one.
• You have multiple priests' numbers in your cell phone.
• You actually read the Bible in your spare time.
• You've slept overnight in your church for a retreat.
• You've grown accustomed to the taste of wine because you've had it since you were a baby.
• Even if you don't speak the language fluently (i.e. Albanian, Greek, Russian, etc.) you could still carry on a decent conversation about food in it.
• You've been or plan on going to Alaska.
• You could write a book on the symbolism in an Orthodox wedding... during the wedding... because they are just that long.
and, seen on a bumper sticker: "If you're Orthodox, Honk 40 times!"
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Roseanna I. & her almost-two-year-old Lizzy are hoping to come visit the area around the last week of May and first week of June. She'll be spending part of the time at her aunt's in Langley, but would also like to stay some of the time with folks in the parish. Our newer members won't remember, but Roseanna is from an OCA clergy family and she spent some time in this parish a number of years ago (I don't recall the exact number-- time flies!
If you can provide accommodation for any part of the dates around Sat. May 26 to Fri. May 8th, let me know and I can put you in touch with her.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
PARTY! FRIDAY! chez Gascoigne!
To celebrate Theo's safe arrival and baptism we're throwing a party in our little basement suite--so pray for good weather because we want the place packed!
Festivities start at around 3-ish for those who prefer early arrivals and departures. We'll have tea and sweets available, then from 7-ish --or maybe earlier depending how often my arms are free to get things in and out of the oven--we'll have yummy Bright-Week style supper, booze and cigars.
We will be providing plenty of meat dishes--and I will take requests, though I'll tell you in advance that we'll already be having one dish of each of the usual animals--including lamb.
We would ask that people bring some sort of side dish to fill the table out. Drinks are also welcome. Beer and Scotch will be present for toasting, as well as a few other things, but they may run out so it might be a good idea to BYOB.
Also--neither Greg nor I smoke so if you like NICE cigars you might want to bring them along. And of course Paschal pipe smoking is expected.
So come one and all--including kids if you like (we have Playstation AND Xbox)--and help us celebrate Theo's arrival.