Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Fun Night

The next couple of nights Athanasia is out of town so I am staying with the boys.

When I had that job as a pump and compressor mechanic a couple of years ago I was too tired to go for the nighttime walks the boys loved.  When I was selling cars I was always working at night.  So we didn't get to do the walks.  (Maybe, you remember me writing about them over the years?) Well, tonight, after supper, when Basil and Anselm had cleared the table and washed the dishes, we went on one of our night time walks again.  Much FUN!  Some flowers are blooming.  Snap dragons, cherry trees, tulip trees, but not the jasmine or the honeysuckle.  We walked around several blocks of the Willow Glen neighbor hood.  Came across a giant cork oak.  That was neat.  The boy enjoyed feeling the bark.  They swung on all the rope swings their neighbors have hanging on threes in their front yards.  We looked at stars.  Our old friends Orion, the dogs, and the twins were up in the sky. 

After we got home I thought it would be nice to read some Bible to them.  I thought I'd read that story in II Kings where God gets angry at the Syrians for saying he was a hill god but not a valley god.  I thinks it's one of the funniest stories in the Bible.  It is totally hilarious.  But, I thought, I should do a recap of the OT from creation up to that point so they would know where this story fits in to the history. 

So we started with Creation and Noah and went through the call of Abram, his name change to Abraham, how he had faith that all that land would be his even though he died only owning Sarah's burial plot. We covered Joseph, and Moses, and Jericho and Rahab, and then skipped all the Judges between Joshua and Samuel.  The boys were surprised when Israel said they wanted "a king like the nations around us" instead of wanting God for their King.  And we skimmed over Saul, the witch of Endor, David, Solomon, the Civil War, and eventually made it to the Story of Naaman.

There I stopped and opened the Bible and read to them.  I don't know why, and I wouldn't say it was God prompting me, but I did stop there.  And as I was reading (and I have to say to the guys who edited this part of the Bible, what is up with all the pronouns?  It was hard enough for me to keep straight who was saying what to whom, but poor Basil was totally lost until I broke it down for him.) the boys noticed something: Baptism is the easy thing God asks of us.  Anselm said, "Yeah, God makes it so easy I didn't even have to do it, the priest just did it to me!"

It didn't stop there.  It was like a switch in them had been flipped on and they saw the connection between Melchezadick and Communion and giving thanks. And they saw the connection between Rahab's scarlet cord and the blood on the doors at Passover, and that God didn't just use the Virgin Mary to be his mother but had used Rahab, "the opposite of a virgin" as Anselm explained to Basil what a prostitute is, to be one of his ancestors. And then Basil asked, "are any of these people our ancestors?"  I said, Noah and Adam .  "What about Abraham, is he my ancestor?" I said, "Yes. God makes all Christians children of Abraham.  He is our father in the faith". 

Basil said, " What? That doesn't make sense." and gave me a look like I wasn't being honest with him.  But Anselm said, "It's because of baptism!  'Whosoever has been baptised into Christ has put on Christ' and because Jesus is Abraham's descendant we are all Abraham's descendants!" 

Being a dad is the most fun thing in the world.  I can not describe how wonderful it is to hear my sons talking like this. 

One thing I noticed in our little tour through the OT tonight is how people of God turn down money.  Abraham would not split the spoils of war with the king of Sodom, and Elisha would not accept payment for healing Naaman.  It reminded me of the Didache, wherein the Apostles taught that if a prophet says "give me money", the Church should just send him on his way.  And I told the boys about Benny Hinn, who grew up in the Orthodox Church but became one of those lying prophets who just takes money from people.  I reminded the boys that just because they are growing up Orthodox Christians doesn't mean they can't leave the Church, that every day they must cling to Jesus.  Oh, I hope they do.

I never did make it to the story I had planned on reading to them but that's okay.  It was a good night just the way it was. 

A Lenten Sunday Supper: Farfalle, Spinach, and Garbanzo Beans

3 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 pint  vegetable broth
1 15 1/2-ounce can garbanzo beans (chick peas), rinsed well and drained
12 ounces farfalle pasta, freshly cooked ( I like Barilla # 65)

Just about to add the farfalle to the boiling water

The Finished Product

Saute onion and garlic in 1 tsp of the oil until tender
Pour in broth and simmer until liquid is reduced by half,  4 or 5 minutes.
Add garbanzo beans and spinach and boil 1 minute. Transfer spinach mixture to large bowl.
Add pasta.
Drizzle pasta with 2 teaspoons olive oil and toss. Season pasta generously with pepper.

Both Anselm and Basil liked it .  I served it with garlic bread (baguette drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh minced garlic), sauted broccoli and red bell peppers, and San Pellegrino water.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I have one week to find a job or I am in serious trouble.
Why?  I have used up all of my unemployment insurance.
I am not hopeless but I've applied for more than 140 jobs since I was laid off in January and haven't got one yet.  I had an interview yesterday for a delivery driver job but I think they thought I was too old.  I walked into the office with a gray beard and wearing a tie.  Everyone else was 21 and wearing a t-shirt.
I'm just not getting any call-backs.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Anathemas

A couple of days ago was the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy.  In the service is a list of anathemas but I have never heard them in person since they can only be repeated in a diocesan cathedral with the bishop presiding, but here is the English text of the service for the Triumph of Orthodoxy, including the dreadful, heart-breaking, and terrible Anathemas. 

If you read the whole service you will see a lot of beautiful things, but right now I am concentrating on the Anathemas, which most people never hear. 
(I don't understand Slavonic but the looks like the Anathemas start after the creed, at about 22 minutes)

"As we therefore bless and praise those who have obeyed the divine revelation and have fought for it; so we reject and anathematize those who oppose this truth, if while waiting for their return and repentance, they refuse to turn again to the Lord; and in this we follow the sacred tradition of the ancient Church, holding fast to her traditions.

To those who deny the existence of God, and assert that the world is self-existing, and that all things in it occur by chance, and not by the providence of God, Anathema!
All: Anathema! (...and after each exclamation.)

Deacon: To those who say that God is not spirit, but flesh; or that He is not just, merciful, wise and all-knowing, and utter similar blasphemies, Anathema!

To those who dare to say that the Son of God and also the Holy Spirit are not one in essence and of equal honor with the Father, and confess that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not one God, Anathema!

To those who foolishly say that the coming of the Son of God into the world in the flesh, and His voluntary passion, death, and resurrection were not necessary for our salvation and the cleansing of sins, Anathema! To those who reject the grace of redemption preached by the Gospel as the only means of our justification before God, Anathema!

To those who dare to say that the all-pure Virgin Mary was not virgin before giving birth, during birthgiving, and after her child-birth, Anathema!

To those who do not believe that the Holy Spirit inspired the prophets and apostles, and by them taught us the true way to eternal salvation, and confirmed this by miracles, and now dwells in the hearts of all true and faithful Christians, and teaches them in all truth, Anathema!

To those who reject the immortality of the soul, the end of time, the future judgment, and eternal reward for virtue and condemnation for sin, Anathema!

To those who reject all the holy mysteries held by the Church of Christ, Anathema!

To those who reject the Councils of the holy fathers and their traditions, which are agreeable to divine revelation and kept piously by the Orthodox Catholic Church, Anathema!

To those who mock and profane the holy images and relics which the holy Church receives as revelations of God's work and of those pleasing to Him, to inspire their beholders with piety, and to arouse them to follow these examples; and to those who say that they are idols, Anathema!

To those who dare to say and teach that our Lord Jesus Christ did not descend to earth, but only seemed to; or that He did not descend to the earth and become incarnate only once, but many times, and who likewise deny that the true Wisdom of the Father is His only-begotten Son, Anathema!

To the followers of the occult, spiritualists, wizards, and all who do not believe in the one God, but honor the demons; or who do not humbly give their lives over to God, but strive to learn the future through sorcery, Anathema"

Thursday, March 06, 2014

A Fun Thing to do during Great Lent - Visit All Orthodox in the Bay Area!

I've been to several of the Orthodox parishes, missions, monasteries, and cathedrals in the Bay Area but haven't been to all of them.  So, this Lent I'm going to try and visit all of them for, at least, one service.  Here are the ones I know about.  Do you know of any others?

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church - Saratoga   DONE 
St. Herman Mission - Sunnyvale  DONE
The Other St. Nicholas Orthodox Church- San Jose
St. Basil the Great Orthodox Church - San Jose
Archangel Michael Orthodox Church - Saratoga
Orthodox Church of the Redeemer - Los Altos Hills  DONE
St. James Orthodox Church - Milpitas  DONE
St. Stephen Orthodox Church - Campbell  DONE
Protection of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church - Palo Alto
St. Christiana Orthodox Church - Fremont
St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church - Berkeley  DONE
Ascension Cathedral - Oakland
Holy Cross Orthodox Monastery - Castro Valley
St. Innocent Orthodox Church - Livermore
Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church - Castro Valley  DONE
Archangel Michael Orthodox Church - Concord
St. Demitrios Orthodox Church - Concord
St. Xenia Orthodox Church - Concord
Orthodox Church of the Holy Cross - Belmont
All Russian Saints Orthodox Church - Burlingame
Nativity of the Virgin Orthodox Church - Menlo Park DONE
Holy Trinity Cathedral - San Francisco
Holy Virgin Cathedral - San Francisco
Annunciation Cathedral - San Francisco
Holy Trinity Orthodox Church - San Francisco
Our Lady of Kazan Orthodox Church - San Francisco
St, Nicholas Orthodox Church - San Francisco
The Other Other St. Nicholas Orthodox Church - San Francisco
Christ the Savior Orthodox Church - San Francisco
The Other Other Other St. Nicholas Orthodox Church - San Anselmo
Nativity of Christ Orthodox Church - Novato
St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church - Santa Rosa
Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church - Santa Rosa
Holy Dormition Orthodox Church - Santa Rosa
Holy Assumption Monastery - Calistoga
St. Symeon Orthodox Church - Calistoga
Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church - Ben Lomond  DONE
St. Lawrence Orthodox Church - Felton

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

A Hymn to Mary

We mention Mary and pray, at least, a short prayer to the God-bearer at every service, but last night, during the Great Canon I was struck by how much we Orthodox pray to her during Lent.  I got me to thinking about a hymn we sing all the time during Lent.  It is sung by the Orthodox every day during Lent, The Coptic and the Roman Catholic. I've read, also sing it but I do not know when.   While it probably isn't the oldest hymn to Mary, it is the one for which we have the oldest evidence:  A fragment, which scholars date to about A.D. 250, written in Greek that was found in Egypt.

Ὑπὸ τὴν σὴν εὐσπλαγχνίαν,
καταφεύγομεν, Θεοτόκε.
Τὰς ἡμῶν ἱκεσίας,
μὴ παρίδῃς ἐν περιστάσει,
ἀλλ᾽ ἐκ κινδύνων λύτρωσαι ἡμᾶς,
μόνη Ἁγνή, μόνη εὐλογημένη.

Beneath thy compassion,
We take refuge, O Theotokos:
do not despise our petitions in time of trouble,
but rescue us from dangers,
only pure one, only blessed one.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Camping and Forgiveness Vespers

Saturday night was the Cub Scout Pack camping trip.  Because of the job I had selling cars in 2012-2013, the divorce, and my bouncing around from place to place since last May I haven't been very involved in Scouting lately.  But for the last two months, since I've been unemployed and living in Sunnyvale I've become more active.   I helped Basil's Den earn the whittling chip, helped Basil make his pinewood derby car, judged the deserts at the Blue and Gold Banquet, and yesterday and today lead Basil's den (the regular den leader couldn't be there) during the pack camping trip.

The campground we stayed at had some really neat stuff.  There was a thing called The Mole Hole that was super cool.  It was a plastic pipe about 3 feet in diameter, 200 yards long, and tied to the side of a mountain.  The Scouts put on helmets, knee pads, gloves, and elbow pads and rode plastic sleds down the inside of the pipe.  The came out of the pipe at the bottom and landed on a pile of mattresses.  Of course, there was archery, arts & crafts, sports (Anselm took a vicious slice to the face from a hockey stick.), a campfire where the scouts entertained each other with skits and songs and where I told a ghost story.  Saturday night, after I and Basil and the rest of the Cub Scouts went to bed, Anselm stayed up late with the handful of other Boy Scouts who were there and played poker in the lodge.

This morning we broke camp, ate breakfast, and were going to go on a hike, but Basil fell into one of the rivers while he and some other Cub Scouts were trying to find physical evidence to corroborate the terrifying story I had told the night before.  I have no idea what they found, but they were all convinced the story was true by what ever they found.  So, since Basil was soaking wet we skipped the hike and just headed home. I got them to their mothers house about noon. and got them both bathed and into clean clothes. Then she got home from work, and I headed back to my sisters house for a nap before Forgiveness Vespers and the start of Great Lent. 

I have a friend who grew up Lutheran but now attends a kind of church I think of as a Rock & Roll church.  She always asks me if I get tired of tradition, and how I can stand being in boring irrelevant and unemotional services.  I always reply with something like "I find it very moving" and then tell her about the Gospel of the day or the life of the saint of the day, one or both of which I always find very emotionally moving and relevant.  Her responses make me think I am not a very good communicator. Tonight, at Forgiveness Vespers I thought of her.  The tradition is we prostrate before each other, one at a time (at my age and weight it isn't easy), ask for forgiveness, and give forgiveness with a kiss and a hug.  Is anything more relevant?  Jesus said if we don't forgive we will not be forgiven.  And with all that forgiveness can emotion not be coursing through our veins?  I don't know how many people were crying tonight, but I was one of them.  So, tonight, I was thinking about her and how, if there was any service that would disabuse her of her notions concerning Orthodox services this would be it.  But, it isn't my job to disabuse anyone of anything.  It's my job to repent.