Monday, March 31, 2008

What We're Supposed to Say

...when it's March 31 and this is the scene from your front steps:

Isn't it beautiful?
We really need the moisture.
It could be feet and not inches, you know!
Thank God we don't have to be anywhere.
It's OK, it'll be gone by the end of the week.
Some people live with this all of the time.

But I've lost my sense of humor about the snow now, as I always do this time of year. I might hear these Minnesota niceties when the weather's like this, but what I'm really thinking is:

I'm sick of all the world looking like an Ansel Adams portrait
I'm sick of the way it sounds and feels when my anti-lock brakes kick in
I'm sick of chapped lips and itchy shins
I'm sick of static shock
I'm sick of bringing my winter coat back out and putting it on again
I'm sick of scraping off the car
I'm sick of popsicle toes
I'm sick of all my sweaters (except one)
I'm sick of playing the thermostat game with DearHusband (did he turn it back down again???)

But what are you gonna do? (besides scrape and slide and shovel and freeze?)
Well, since we don't have to be anywhere tonight, this is what YoungerSon and DearHusband decided to do with our snowy evening:

Delicious! (And a nice, warm pretzel certainly helps to put me in a bit better mood).

Again and Again


DearHusband has agreed to drive down to his hometown and present a little session on Pysanky for his mom's extension club on April 10. This should give him a good opportunity to see some of the women he's known since childhood and also to put that education degree to work a little.

He's been doing his homework - reading up on the history and symbolism and on various tools and techniques and planning this little session. We decided it would be a nice idea to choose a simple design and make one for each of the ladies who are members of this group to take along home with them.

We managed to whack out a dozen of these in a single weekend - and we didn't even have to miss any church to get it done!

Now we just have to get them varnished and blown and rinsed - then we can resume writing some eggs of different designs for the rest of Lent.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Two Reflections on the Cross

From Fr. Jonathan Tobias at Second Terrace.


Nowhere Where the Cross is Not

These are from his archives - things I read in the past and remember well. He's currently writing a good series on Lenten Questions, as well.

The Veneration of the Cross

Here's the cross we venerated at Holy Trinity this morning.

The commemora-
tion and ceremonies of the Third Sunday of Lent are closely parallel to the feasts of the Veneration of the Cross (September 14) and the Procession of the Cross (August 1). Not only does the Sunday of the Holy Cross prepare us for commemoration of the Crucifixion, but it also reminds us that the whole of Lent is a period when we are crucified with Christ.

As we have “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24), and will have mortified ourselves during these forty days of the Fast, the precious and life-giving Cross is now placed before us to refresh our souls and encourage us who may be filled with a sense of bitterness, resentment, and depression. The Cross reminds us of the Passion of our Lord, and by presenting to us His example, it encourages us to follow Him in struggle and sacrifice, being refreshed, assured, and comforted. In other words, we must experience what the Lord experienced during His Passion - being humiliated in a shameful manner. The Cross teaches us that through pain and suffering we shall see the fulfillment of our hopes: the heavenly inheritance and eternal glory.

As they who walk on a long and hard way and are bowed down by fatigue find great relief and strengthening under the cool shade of a leafy tree, so do we find comfort, refreshment, and rejuvenation under the Life-giving Cross, which our Fathers “planted” on this Sunday. Thus, we are fortified and enabled to continue our Lenten journey with a light step, rested and encouraged.

Or, as before the arrival of the king, his royal standards, trophies, and emblems of victory come in procession and then the king himself appears in a triumphant parade, jubilant and rejoicing in his victory and filling those under him with joy, so does the Feast of the Cross precede the coming of our King, Jesus Christ. It warns us that He is about to proclaim His victory over death and appear to us in the glory of the Resurrection. His Life-Giving Cross is His royal scepter, and by venerating it we are filled with joy, rendering Him glory. Therefore, we become ready to welcome our King, who shall manifestly triumph over the powers of darkness.

The present feast has been placed in the middle of Great Lent for another reason. The Fast can be likened to the spring of Marah whose waters the children of Israel encountered in the wilderness. This water was undrinkable due to its bitterness but became sweet when the Holy Prophet Moses dipped the wood into its depth. Likewise, the wood of the Cross sweetens the days of the Fast, which are bitter and often grievous because of our tears. Yet Christ comforts us during our course through the desert of the Fast, guiding and leading us by His hand to the spiritual Jerusalem on high by the power of His Resurrection.

Moreover, as the Holy Cross is called the Tree of Life, it is placed in the middle of the Fast, as the ancient tree of life was placed in the middle of the garden of Eden. By this, our Holy Fathers wished to remind us of Adam’s gluttony as well as the fact that through this Tree has condemnation been abolished. Therefore, if we bind ourselves to the Holy Cross, we shall never encounter death but shall inherit life eternal.

...At the conclusion of the Matins (the traditional practice in association with a vigil) or of the Divine Liturgy, a special service is held. The Cross is placed on a tray surrounded by basil or daffodils and is taken in solemn procession through the church to the chanting of the Thrice Holy Hymn. The tray is placed on a table before the people, and the hymn of the Feast of the Cross is chanted. As the priest venerates the Cross, the priest then the people chant, “We venerate Your Cross, O Christ, and Your holy Resurrection we glorify.” At the conclusion of the service, the people come and venerate the cross and receive the flowers or basil from the priest.

HT: Homepage of the Greek Archdiocese

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Jerusalem Above

This was a wonderful and unexpected addition to my (way too) humble Christian education endeavors during this Lenten season.

I spend a good bunch of time in my car en route to and from my job during the weekdays and was delighted when DearHusband brought home this wonderful audio study on the book of Galatians (a gift from Fr. Marc - and a wonderful gift it is!). So I was blessed during most of this past week to ride to and from work with this engaging and insightful teacher. Whether I am with Fr. Marc visiting his parish, or he's visiting ours, and even in my most brief and casual encounters with him, he never fails to teach me and to fill me with food for thought.

So here's an official endorsement of this fine study!

The Jerusalem Above: Biblical Perspectives on Religion and Politics in American Culture, by Rev. Marc Boulos
Beginning with Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness, the Bible presents the paradoxical vision of a heavenly city “not made by human hands.” From the abolition of slavery and women’s suffrage to the civil rights movement, contemplation of this unseen place has provoked every major step forward in American social development.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose writings against slavery influenced millions in the 1850s, warned that Lincoln’s Union could not be saved by protesting injustice and cruelty, but “by repentance, justice and mercy.” A century later, the Rev. King repeated Stowe’s call, systematically invoking the Bible in his famous speech, “I have a Dream.”

Marked by partisanship and divisiveness, more recent public expressions of religion and politics have strayed from this biblical vision. Genuine, intelligent dialogue has been replaced by arguments “for” and “against,” even as ideology creates isolation and estrangement in our communities, churches and families.

What does the biblical vision of city imply for contemporary discussions of social justice? How can this vision offer a way forward for all Americans, whatever their beliefs? In the words of Stowe, to what “heavy account,” is the Church of our generation called “to answer?"

While still listed in the "Coming Soon" category - I have reason to believe that it is coming very soon and will be available here. Locals who are interested can certainly borrow our copy (but DearHusband is next in line, so you'll have to take a number - which I'll be happy to give you!)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Blowing Coat

Spring is on the cusp of being sprung here in Minnesota, and at our house it can mean only one thing: Ollie is blowing coat. And what a coat it is!

Bad timing, Mr. collie-dog! Not only do I not really have much time for blogging ... I also don't have alot of time for vacumming, either. (Did I mention we have guests coming from out of town for a few days next week???)

But I recently found a sort of positive spin on this hairy spring problem.

Now I've got enough crafty stuff to do to keep myself busy for a long, long time, but if there are any real hard-core knitters out there who might be interested in giving this project a shot, my dog has lovely hair - probably perfect for something like this.

All you gotta do is come on over and collect it - and you can have as much as you want FOR FREE!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sometimes Life Gets in the Way of Blogging

Which is as it should be, I think.

During Lent we try to make a conscious effort to open our hearts and lives to include more study, worship and prayer, to make room for something more and for some things more important. And of course this comes at the expense of other things which are far less important, like blogging. So I’m finding a bit less time to blog just now, and am rather at peace with that. I’m thinking it’s a good thing, actually.

I do still try to make a little time most days to keep up with my regular reads, though. I’m better at this some days than others. Some of these reads have been good additions to the Lenten disciplines I mention above – plus, they keep me out of the vacuum which I have a tendency to create for myself, and help me to remember that there is a big wide world out there that is not about me.

I have seen and read many wonderful reflections and devotional thoughts about Lent in recent weeks. Perhaps if I happen to find some spare time and can find them again, I'll at least share a link or two.

Great Lent

A great read.
(Finished it this morning).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Just a short post to wish a blessed feast to those who celebrate our Lord's resurrection this day!

I was glad that Fr. remembered in the prayers at the Great Entrance this morning our brothers and sisters in Christ who are celebrating Easter today - as I had just been thinking about it.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Birthday ...

...dear Johann, happy birthday to you!

In the old "name-ten-deceased-people-of-any-time-and-place-you'd-choose-to-have-dinner-with" question?

For me he's about number 2.

In the old "top-ten-reasons-why-I-didn't-convert-to-Orthodox-Christianity-sooner" question?

He's probably about reason number 2 there, also.

So as a tribute to Bach on his birthday, and just to be unpredictable, I'll embed a little vid which is neither choral music nor organ music (my favorites!), but which is music written by this master and played by another master.

On the First Day of Spring

We are getting a chunky snowfall today.

But while I was shoveling off the deck early this morning, I looked into the ornamental crab tree right off the end of the deck and there was a robin - the first one I have seen this spring.

I'm thinking that he's bummin' about the snow, too - but I was glad to see him anyway.

I've been waiting for him for awhile.

Monday, March 17, 2008

In honor of St. Patrick's Day ...

...and because I'm Irish (among other things!), I'll share a favorite hymn text, attributed to St. Patrick (372-466). This is more of the text than I ever learned:

I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation,
His baptism in the Jordan River,
His cross of death for my salvation,
His bursting from the spiced tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom,
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, his might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need,
The wisdom of my god to teach,
His hand to guide, his shield to ward,
The Word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three,
Of whom all nature has creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation;
Salvation is of Christ the Lord!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Memory Eternal

Making Up for Lost Eggs

Knowing that I have about a dozen eggs I wanted to give away at western Easter (next weekend already!), and having lost 99% of the lot a week ago, I have been trying to get a few done in a hurry.

Stayed home from church on Friday night and was able to produce only a couple of very underwhelming eggs (good ones "for the bowl" as we say here ... that is to say, they look pretty good in a bowl full of pysanky, but not good enough to give away as a gift).

This afternoon and evening I had better luck, though, and was able to crank out 3 that while somewhat simple, seem OK. Here they are with their varnish drying (they are the 3 in the back row on the right). With no church until Wednesday night, I should be able to knock a couple out on Monday and Tuesday evenings, which could put me pretty close to at least having enough to give to some of my Lutheran pals on their Easter.

This being Holy Week at my place of employment, it is traditionally the most hectic week of the year for me at work. Whether or not I get any more eggs done in the evenings this week depends pretty much on how things go during the days ...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saturday Road Trip


Today I get to spend 6 hours in the car as we travel to SW Minnesota to visit DearHusband's mom on her 78th birthday.

Looks like a lovely day to travel - a much better day than the last time we journeyed there.

Here are my plans for the car-time:

1. I'm gonna try and spy one of these:

2. Maybe I'll work on this:

3. I usually do a boatload of these.

4. I'll probably read a little of this.

5. I may listen to some of these.

6. Perhaps I'll get a nice nap in (not likely).

7. I may end up doing none of the above.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Canon of St. Andrew of Crete

I was blessed to be able to attend all four evenings of the Canon of St. Andrew and Compline this first week of Lent (Monday-Thursday), and was simply struck by it's ability to inspire and instruct and convict me all at once, and to help me recognize that God continues to act in my life just as He has acted in the lives of His people from the beginning.

Fr. Alexander Schmemann writes eloquently and concisely about the canon in his book, Great Lent, which I am currently reading:

"At the commencement of Lent, at its inauguration, as the "pitch" which is to begin the entire "melody," we find the great penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. Divided into four parts, it is read at Great Compline on the evenings of the first four days of Lent, It can best be described as a penitential lamenation conveying to us the scope and depth of sin, shaking the soul with despair, repentance, and hope. With a unique art, St. Andrew interwove the great biblical themes -- Adam and Eve, Paradise and Fall, the Patriarchs Noah and the Flood, David, the Promised Land, and ultimately Christ and the Church -- with confession of sin and repentance. The events of sacred history are revealed as events of my life, God's acts in the past as acts aimed at me and my salvation, the tragedy of sin and betrayal as my personal tragedy. My life is shown to me as part of the great and all-embracing fight between God and the powers of darkness which rebel against him.

"It is precisely the function and the purpose of the Great Canon to reveal sin to us and to lead us thus to repentance, and it reveals sin not by definition and ennumerations but by a deep meditation on the great biblical story which is indeed the story of sin, repentance, and forgiveness.

"The Lenten journey begins thus with a return to the "starting point' -- the world of Creation, Fall, and Redemption, the world in which all things speak of God and reflect His glory, in which all events are referred to God, in which man finds the true dimension of his life, and having found it, repents."

It was a rich and meaningful way to begin Lent.

On the Dangers of Putting All of Your Eggs in One Basket

In the very first minutes of Clean Monday, while our family was fast asleep, we were suddenly awakened by a loud crash in the kitchen.

Deep down inside I knew what it was, even before I went out to look ... and my heart sank.

Bob, our elderly and portly cat, (I had different words to describe him that night), had decided to jump up on to the counter, and he knocked over the very large, flat basket which contained all of our finished and cleaned and blown and varnished pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs). Most of them fell to the floor and shattered.

It wouldn't have been quite so bad if the casualties of this accident were just the eggs we have done so far this year, but sadly, it was many more than this. Many favorites from years gone by also broke.

I think we lost about 20...maybe more.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Forgiveness Vespers

"I have never felt so out of my element in my life," said a fellow Orthodox janie-come-lately as we recently talked about our remembrances of Forgiveness Vespers last year - a first for both of us then. (Actually, I had been to a Forgiveness Vespers a time or two, but only as an observer, not as a participant). I completely understood and identified with the honesty of her words, and it was exactly how I felt at Forgiveness Vespers last year.

At the end of Vespers each year on the evening before Lent begins, all present for the service are invited to participate in a simple but profoundly meaningful rite. Each person addresses every other person, asking for forgiveness and, in turn, granting each one forgiveness.

Clinically speaking, here's how the rite works at our church: You approach each person one at a time, beginning with the priest(s), and make a metania or half-prostration (making the sign of the cross and then bending over to touch the floor) and ask for their forgiveness. They do the same and ask for your forgiveness sort of at the same time, and you exchange a word of forgiveness and the kiss of peace (at our church it's 3 kisses, actually: one cheek, the other cheek, and then the first one again). Then you move on to the next person in the line and start all over again.

My memories of Forgiveness Vespers from last year are very much like my friend's. I was brand-new to the church then (a one-week old!) and really didn't know most of these people very well at all. As I approached about the first half-dozen people, I remember being more concerned about just getting through this rite than I was concerned about forgiveness. Then as I approached about the next dozen people, I began to wonder if this rite wasn't somehow a bit contrived. Why should I be approaching theses people - many of whom I barely knew and some I didn't know at all - and asking for their forgiveness? What did I ever do to this person - or this one? I hardly knew them! In some cases, I didn't even know their names. And what had they ever done to me that they should be asking for my forgiveness?

Then as I came to stand before the members of my own family it suddenly began to make alot of sense. In just the minute or less that I stood before each of them, I was overwhelmed with a flood of ways I had offended each of them - things I'd done or said for which I'd needed their forgiveness for some time, but hadn't asked for it. And it dawned then on me only then just how important such a thing is for the health and healing of our own little household community, and also how important it is for me personally in order to maintain the integrity of my relationship with the others in my own home. And then, of couse, the rite in this particular wider context, began to make a great deal of sense to me.

In a society where "no regrets" is the theme and admission of wrong and of our personal failings is often interpreted as a sign of weakness, Forgiveness Vespers comes as sort of a wake-up call for Christians, reminding us of who we really are - not only in our relationship to God, but in our relationships with each other. It is a small way to begin to set ourselves aright.

Often, it seems, when we feel "out of our element," it turns out we are actually closer to being "in the element" for which we were created.

The trick in our day and age, I think, is remembering exactly what our true element is.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


"The springtime of the fast has dawned," says the aposticha at Vespers of Cheesefare Week.

Now if the springtime of Minnesota would only follow suit...

The current temperature outside is a whopping 0 (that's ZERO!) degrees.

Forgiveness Sunday

Tomorrow is Forgiveness Sunday. I may have some reflections to share after Vespers tomorrow evening (or I may not wish to share - my own take on this most beautiful and important service is really of little consequence to anyone but me).

But for those who might happen by who aren't Orthodox or who aren't familiar with Forgiveness Sunday, here's a helpful piece from Fr. Alexander Schmemann:

Forgiveness Sunday
In the Orthodox Church, the last Sunday before Great Lent – the day on which, at Vespers, Lent is liturgically announced and inaugurated – is called Forgiveness Sunday. On the morning of that Sunday, at the Divine Liturgy, we hear the words of Christ:

"If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses..." (Mark 6:14-15)

Then after Vespers – after hearing the announcement of Lent in the Great Prokeimenon: "Turn not away Thy face from Thy child for I am afflicted! Hear me speedily! Draw near unto my soul and deliver it!", after making our entrance into Lenten worship, with its special memories, with the prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian, with its prostrations – we ask forgiveness from each other, we perform the rite of forgiveness and reconciliation. And as we approach each other with words of reconciliation, the choir intones the Paschal hymns, filling the church with the anticipation of Paschal joy.

What is the meaning of this rite? Why is it that the Church wants us to begin Lenten season with forgiveness and reconciliation? These questions are in order because for too many people Lent means primarily, and almost exclusively, a change of diet, the compliance with ecclesiastical regulations concerning fasting. They understand fasting as an end in itself, as a "good deed" required by God and carrying in itself its merit and its reward. But, the Church spares no effort in revealing to us that fasting is but a means, one among many, towards a higher goal: the spiritual renewal of man, his return to God, true repentance and, therefore, true reconciliation. The Church spares no effort in warning us against a hypocritical and pharisaic fasting, against the reduction of religion to mere external obligations. As a Lenten hymn says:

In vain do you rejoice in no eating, O soul!

For you abstain from food,

But from passions you are not purified.

If you persevere in sin, you will perform a useless fast.

Now, forgiveness stands at the very center of Christian faith and of Christian life because Christianity itself is, above all, the religion of forgiveness. God forgives us, and His forgiveness is in Christ, His Son, Whom He sends to us, so that by sharing in His humanity we may share in His love and be truly reconciled with God. Indeed, Christianity has no other content but love. And it is primarily the renewal of that love, a return to it, a growth in it, that we seek in Great Lent, in fasting and prayer, in the entire spirit and the entire effort of that season. Thus, truly forgiveness is both the beginning of, and the proper condition for the Lenten season.

One may ask, however: Why should I perform this rite when I have no "enemies"? Why should I ask forgiveness from people who have done nothing to me, and whom I hardly know? To ask these questions, is to misunderstand the Orthodox teaching concerning forgiveness. It is true, that open enmity, personal hatred, real animosity may be absent from our life, though if we experience them, it may be easier for us to repent, for these feelings openly contradict Divine commandments. But, the Church reveals to us that there are much subtler ways of offending Divine Love. These are indifference, selfishness, lack of interest in other people, of any real concern for them -- in short, that wall which we usually erect around ourselves, thinking that by being "polite" and "friendly" we fulfill God’s commandments. The rite of forgiveness is so important precisely because it makes us realize – be it only for one minute – that our entire relationship to other men is wrong, makes us experience that encounter of one child of God with another, of one person created by God with another, makes us feel that mutual "recognition" which is so terribly lacking in our cold and dehumanized world.

On that unique evening, listening to the joyful Paschal hymns we are called to make a spiritual discovery: to taste of another mode of life and relationship with people, of life whose essence is love. We can discover that always and everywhere Christ, the Divine Love Himself, stands in the midst of us, transforming our mutual alienation into brotherhood. As l advance towards the other, as the other comes to me – we begin to realize that it is Christ Who brings us together by His love for both of us.

And because we make this discovery – and because this discovery is that of the Kingdom of God itself: the Kingdom of Peace and Love, of reconciliation with God and, in Him, with all that exists – we hear the hymns of that Feast, which once a year, "opens to us the doors of Paradise." We know why we shall fast and pray, what we shall seek during the long Lenten pilgrimage. Forgiveness Sunday: the day on which we acquire the power to make our fasting – true fasting; our effort – true effort; our reconciliation with God – true reconciliation.

Father Alexander Schmemann

Friday, March 7, 2008

Modest Goals for Lent

Some modest goals for Lent this year:

1. To read Fr. Alexander Schmemann's Great Lent, which I purchased many, many years ago but have never read.

2. To memorize the brief Prayer of St. Ephraim, with which I was unfamiliar last year during my first Lent as an Orthodox Christian. This year - no crib notes!

O Lord and Master of my life: take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages.

Oh, and one more ...
3. To try and choke down some peanut butter (yuck.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Closet Evangelist

Though YoungerSon shares a name with a certain Holy Apostle and Evangelist, he is generally sort of a less-than-zealous-for-church-life kinda guy. So I always find it rather curious that he often wears this shirt to school:

And the flip side:

Maybe he IS an evangelist deep down inside ...


Celebration Wafer & Juice Set

Celebration Cups replaces Remembrance Wafer & Juice Set. Double-sealed and disposable, individual Celebration® wafer and juice sets combine modern convenience and purity with a taste for tradition.

The elements are prepackaged, with both wafer and juice in a single two-part container. Communion participants peel back one seal to remove the communion wafer. A second seal under the wafer is then removed for juice.

  • Remembrance® cups are designed to fit standard communion ware.

  • Box contains 100, 250 or 500 ready-to-use cups.

  • A Versatile New Resource for Celebrating Communion

  • " Six Month Shelf Life"

  • New Push Up and Peel Back Tab"

  • No Special Preparation Required

  • Sized for Standard Communion Trays

  • Packaged and Sealed for Purity"

  • Unused Sets May Be Stored for Future Use

  • No Refrigeration Necessary

How It Works:
Now Communion Is As Simple As 1, 2, 3.
1) The Celebration Cup is perfectly designed to fit your communion trays.
2)Peel back the air-tight seal and eat the unleavened wafer.
3) Peel back the second seal and drink the juice.The plastic is left in the cup holders in the pew.

Whether in a church with 30 people or in a stadium with 30,000, we are never more in touch with our Lord than when we celebrate Holy Communion.It is a practice too profound to alter. Too precious to change. Yet while the practice must remain the same, the process has room for improvements. For many churches, preparing the elements, passing the trays and cleaning up is very time consuming.That is why, after years of extensive research, development, and strategic alliances with churches, manufacturers and suppliers around the world, the Celebration Cup was developed. And now with great reverence, we make it available to you.

(If you notice, a portion of the verba is even conveniently printed on the top - perhaps they can be simply mailed to the homebound ...)

Weekend Update

An activity-packed weekend left me very ready to go back to the routine of work yesterday morning!

On Saturday, Luther Seminary here in the Twin Cities hosted a day-long conference on Hugo Distler and his church music (this year being the centenary of his birth). For the past 6 Saturday mornings or so, I've rehearsed Distler's Totentanz with a small choir who presented the work at the end of the conference. Totentanz ("Dance of Death")is a medieval morality poem, a dialogue between Death and individual humans from all walks of life as each takes their turn "dancing" with death. It's very interesting and thought-provoking poetry which, while clearly not written from a Lutheran point of view, does provide interesting food for thought, even for those Lutherans withwhom I sang it. But aside from the particular piece which we sang, it is always a pleasure to work with and sing for Dr. Paul Westermeyer, who heads the Masters of Sacred Music Program at Luther, and with whom I used to worship regularly when I was a Lutheran. He's one of those rare individuals who is not only incredibly intellectual - a gifted teacher - but who is at the same time a really personable guy.

On Sunday, the faithful at my own parish were blessed with an archpastoral visit from our bishop. A Hierarchical Divine liturgy was held, a reader was tonsured, and a great potluck meal followed the liturgy.

ElderSon, simply by virtue of his showing up early for liturgy, was appointed to be the acolyte to hold the Bishop's prayer book during the service. While the rest of the Transposzing family spent the 15 minutes before church lighting candles and looking at music (I missed choir rehearsal the day before due to the Distler conference), ElderSon got his briefing from the subdeacon on what he was supposed to do. "First you do this, then this, then you walk over here, then you hold this, then you stand here, then you walk over here, then -then - then..." and I laughed as I listened, thinking that he would certainly never remember all of the instructions he was being given - he has a tough time remembering the few items he needs to bring to school each day.

He seemed to do pretty well, though he admitted afterward that he was very nervous. But it was obvious in talking with him about it afterward that it was a blessing to him.

Anyway, these 2 weekend involvements, combined with the other weekend commitments mentioned below, means that the Transposzing weekend household duties (like laundry and cleaning) were completely ignored this past weekend. Not such a good thing considering that our thrice-postponed houseblessing has been rescheduled for Thursday.

Guess what I'm doing this evening?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Beef ...

It's what was for dinner ... and brunch ... and lunch.

It was Meatfare Sunday yesterday, the last day most Orthodox Christians eat meat until Pascha. Meatfare Sunday is the signal that Lent begins in just a week - I was chrismated on Meatfare Sunday last year.

Because we were honored with a visit from our bishop at church yesterday, our parish held a festive and meaty potluck lunch after church. Thinking ahead to the coming meatless Lent, I made sure to select a some of the meatier offerings at the meal, from which there were several to choose. And always hungry after church, I ate until I was quite satisfied.

After church, DearHusband and I dropped the boys off at home and then popped in at a party which was being held by a dear friend, celebrating the tenth anniversary of his sobriety. At this party, they served a Transposzing family favorite - drip beef sandwiches (shredded beef roast in au jus). So of course, we ate some more (didn't want to be rude!) Then after this little party we had to run off again, stopping at home to round up some supper for the boys before heading out to a fundraising dinner with the bishop, being held to help raise money for the seminarians in our diocese. We were really not very hungry after our all-day feed, but something seemed not quite right about not eating this $50 per plate meal of an enormous piece of prime rib with all the fixins. We couldn't very well not eat it and let it go to waste - that wouldn't be right. So down the hatch it went, too (even though we really weren't hungry, it was delicious and so, of course, we ate it anyway!) Unfortunately, by the time the dessert course was over, I felt like if I never ate anything ever again, it would be too soon. I could hardly move! When it was time to leave, we sort of waddled out to the car and arriving home, waddled into the house to find some bottoms with elastic waistbands. Even now - almost 12 hours later - I'm still full!

I'm pretty sure that the thought behind Meatfare Sunday is not that you stuff yourself as full of meat as you possibly can on that day, so that you spend the next 40 days not even able to think about it.

Gluttony - it's a problem.