28 May 2008

On the Anglican Communion

“The latest Lambeth Conference will merely continue to fail to address the question of core doctrine, just as all of its predecessors have done,” said Viscount Monckton. “To Anglicans, the only doctrine is the doctrine that there is no doctrine.”

Full text of article can be read here.

27 May 2008

Of Alcohol and Altar Boys

So, I have really not had much in the way of alcohol in a while. I used to be a moderate to heavy drinker, but in recent years, it has lost its appeal. I might enjoy the occasional evening glass of wine or beer, and while I keep liquor on hand, I hardly ever drink it anymore. I credit the fact that I have replaced an unhealthy fixation with something of a better one--that of the struggle for living a Christian life (which, more often than not, I fail miserably at...).

Nevertheless, with my current deluge of altar boys, I may have to start drinking again.

Let me back up and give the full story. For the better part of the last year, I have done altar service at every church service my parish has had, and through most of them I've done it completely and totally alone. Me and Fr. D--that's it. Father's two older grandsons (9 and 6/7), during that time, would occasionally serve. His son in law (the boys' father), who is also a Reader, would serve when we had a second Reader; we no longer have a second Reader in our parish, so he now has to resume those duties at every service. So, I said, "God, please send me some help back here" most Sundays during Divine Liturgy.

Gospodi Pomiluj! God works in mysterious ways. Not two weeks after we moved into our new facility, we had a Greek family begin coming to our parish--and they have two boys (15 and 13). They have never served before, as their previous Greek parish was so large that the boys never had an opportunity to serve. Their mother is very devout, and wants the boys to learn to serve at the altar, so, I got two new altar boys. This, of course, led my other two part-timers (9 and 6/7) to want to serve every week, because the other boys are serving every week. So, in a short period of time, I've gone from just me, to having enough boys for full processions.

Well, it didn't take me long to realize that, as a new covert who has done a lot of work to try to 'get it right' when serving (1 year crash course!), I still get it wrong. Also, in this crash course, I've been serving alone--so I'm lost on some of the finer points of full processions, never having actually done one. Compounded with this, I have a 7 year old who wants my constant attention, a 9 year old who pays more attention to the contents of his nasal passages than the liturgy, a 13 year old who really wants to learn everything and so watches me like a hawk (oh man! if he only knew!), and a 15 year old who is not really into it and seems to be serving just to please his mom.

Now, our temporary chapel has no iconostasis, so everything we're doing at the altar can be seen (and heard--it's a small space), so it's not easy to give instruction and help the boys figure things out--because I'm very aware that we're being distracting. Plus I have my trusty liturgy book, which is marked for CANDLES, CENSOR, FANS, etc at the appropriate places. It's my security blanket; without it, I would probably still know what to do, but I would freak out and mess up. So, Sunday, the 6 year old, who has a book identical to mine, grabbed my book and went to the other side of the altar, and I had his. So, I'm just going through, and I missed the first cue for the censor. I instantly knew what was wrong. I got it fixed, but then, once I make one mistake, I make another and another. It's the stress.

So, I'm herding this troupe of cats back behind the altar, trying to stay out of Father's way, trying not to distract the people by drawing attention to me/us during the liturgy...and all of the sudden, as we're praying the anaphora prayers, I wonder: why did I want help again?

The it hits me: This is to teach you patience and humility.

I can't say I "heard" it. I was focused on looking at the Chalice, and I just...had this impression that came completely from outside me, clear, distinct, and undeniable. This is to teach me patience and humility. Humility to accept correction when I am doing things wrong in the service, and when the boys whom I am directing make mistakes as well. Humility, to accept the responsibility for their actions, and patience to teach them what they're supposed to do.

In the long run, I don't need to drink to deal with the stress; I'm fully aware of that. And I'm not going to. But I know that some things must be done, and I am far from perfect, and am generally unwilling to do many things for my own salvation. Therefore, the Lord has taken over, and has given me exactly what I have been asking for: help serving and ways to improve my spiritual condition.

So now, I'm praying: Lord, give me the strength to accept the help Thou art giving me!

09 May 2008

The Post-Pascha Post, Or Primarily Providing Publishable Info Under Pressure

As you will have noticed, it's been more than a month since I've updated the Codex. There is not really any reason, except that, I've been quite busy. Celebrating Great and Holy Pascha, getting St. Gregory's moved into it's new location, working on the new parish website, being under the gun at work (lots of extra time spent there recently), finalizing grad school plans for the fall, dad's Chrismation into the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church...lots going on in the last 36 days.

I fully intend to get back into the swing of things, as I am currently reading St. Photios' The Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit. So far, just the introduction to the work has been fascinating. I'm beginning to feel as if I have a better grip on just how important the correct understanding of the monarchy of the Father is to the right-order of the Trinitarian belief, and the effect this has on the right order, not only of the ecclesiology of the Church, but also of the governance of human beings in general.

With many requests for your pardons, prayers, and patience,
Pax vobiscum