Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sunday at St. John Chrysostom's

Psalm 84

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.

Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.

------------ I mentioned last week how good it is to attend Divine Liturgy again. It's true that, many times, one does not know what one has until it is missing. I don't think I took the Byzantine church in Washington for grated while I was there, but I do think I undervalued the richness of that particular faith tradition. Being in Boston, so far away from old friends and our families, we were also confronted with a difficulty: there are no Ruthenian Byzantine churches in the entire state of MA. This sad lack of our particular tradition is not devastating, though. Being Catholic, there is always a church we can attend (especially in Boston). There are some fabulous faith communities here and we are blessed with a strong group of friends who share our love of the Church! There is even a Ukrainian Byzantine church here we could attend. (As a small note: We did try the Ukrainian church, but they spoke the entire Liturgy, which was quite a let down for us, being used to singing the liturgy. The other (most likely sung) services are entirely in Ukrainian. Also, they didn't have a Saturday evening liturgy and T works a lot on Sundays.) Still, I miss the familiar hymns (even though many of them have changed ever so slightly since the revision of the Liturgy a couple years ago). I miss the incenser with bells on it. I miss the icons. I miss the changing of the hymns, incense, and icons with the changes in the liturgical year. I miss the leavened bread used for the Eucharist. I miss seeing babies receive. I say all that because I hope to give you a small idea of what it was like to go to Divine Liturgy again this Sunday! T arranged the visit very nicely so that we got to spend two Sundays there. We are still celebrating Pentecost, so the church was still green! There was a baptism this week, too. Michaela Elizabeth was baptized, chrismated, and received her First Solemn Communion all in one day! She was a very good baby while she was "churched" (where the priest takes the baby and carries her into the church. He also dedicates her before the icon of the Theotokos). I've been fortunate enough to attend 3 Byzantine baptisms: my God daughter Caellainne's, A & R's baby "Sasha," and now Michaela's. What a beautiful world :) Father's homily this Sunday was incredible. He urged parents to protect their children from the evils of the world. He made sure to emphasize that parents should not keep their children ignorant of the world, but that they should foster in them a deep desire for purity and holiness. Fr. Joseph is a very unique priest. Not only does he have several degrees (two PhD's, I think) and all the experience and wisdom many years as an Air Force chaplain teach, he is also the adoptive father of an orphan from Spokane, Christopher. Having raised a child himself, he speaks with great authority. He told us, "We must protect our children. Make them pray, even if they don't want to. Teach them the faith. Be mean. When they're 30 or 40 they'll love you." I'm glad my parents were "mean." I'm glad they taught me to pray--in so many different ways. I'm thankful of all the ways T and I have learned to pray as a couple on our way to heaven. I love the beauty of my faith, of the Church, and of churches. I'll post some pictures of St. John's soon. It's truly a beautiful church, for the glory of God! I'm glad we got to go again. Next time I'm in Spokane, I'll try to take pictures of Ss. Cyril and Methodius Church, which T and I attended for the first year we were married.

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