Saturday, April 23, 2005

Children's Hospice

I spent last Sunday evening in Tacoma, at Holy Resurrection. It was the last of the WOCA (Washington Orthodox Clergy Association) Lenten Vespers, and our priest was giving the homily. The small building was packed, and there were six priests serving. Afterward there was a Lenten Trapeza in the fellowship hall. Father Vadim from St Spiridon brought Father Alexander, who is here from Russia. He is the chaplain of the Children's Hospice of St Petersburg. Hospices provide palliative care for the terminally ill and provide psychological and spiritual support for the patient and family, continuing support for the family after the death. This one in St Petersburg has been in existence for two years. The brochures given away state, "Customarily, once doctors have determined the children will die, they are sent home regardless of their condition, with no medical support, inadequate pain medication, and no social and psychological support for the dying child and grieving family." The hospice supports children dying of cancer as well as permanently disabled children, offering the latter "on-going care, rehabilitation and vocational orientation." I pray that this would continue and grow and reach out to all the suffering children.
"Joy Of All that sorrow art thou, and of the oppressed a protectress, and nurture of all the poor, comfort unto the estranged, a staff art thou of the blind, visitation of all the sick, a shelter and succour unto those brought down by pain, helper of orphaned ones: Mother of God in the Highest art thou, O Immaculate Maiden; hasten, we beseech thee, to redeem thy slaves."

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

silence and singing

Of the many things I need to work on with myself is knowing when to speak, and when to be silent. I'm fairly adept at keeping quiet, but it doesn't do much good if I blurt out something stupid. Also, lack of speech is only one aspect. Living in modern society, we are constantly bombarded with noise, and it's really hard to still and quiet our souls. I'm reading two excellent books, "Letters To A Beginner: On Giving One's Life To God" by (now Saint) Abbess Thaisia and "Holy Women of Russia" by Brenda Meehan. There are many examples in scripture of speech specifically, first to mind is the epistle of Saint James. We also have many examples from the Church Fathers and Saints. In "Holy Women of Russia", there is a chapter about Anastasiia Logacheva, Hermit and Staritsa. She was a spiritual daughter of Saint Seraphim of Sarov,and the author says that he would often quote Saint Ambrose of Milan, "I have seen many being saved by silence, but not one by talkativeness." The author further goes on to describe Anastasiia, "nobody went away from her without kind words, without edification or understanding, without a quenching of the hunger or the thirst of her visitor[...]she taught by doing, emptying herself of the personal and the inconsequential until she achieved that "jarring translucence" so characteristic of the ascetic[...]she spoke rarely and had a constant, angelic smile." I often think of the Proverb, "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." I pray for stillness in my heart, and to speak "only what is helpful for building others up". Another problem, it is hard to lay oneself before God in prayer, if you can't achieve inner silence. One verse I keep in my head lately, isn't specifically about quiet, but about peace. When I get frustrated at work, or busy, or anything...words of Christ from the Gospel of John,"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27
And on that note on to singing...I'm singing in the choir. I'm also learning how (or attempting) to read music. I'm at the absolute beginner level. You would think that growing up with a step-father that plays the violin, having a younger sister play the piano, and having been married to a musician, I would have some sort of idea of what it's about. I have none. But I'm learning. Maybe someday I'll be loud enough to hear.:)I think I'll get there by Pascha.

Friday, April 15, 2005

St Mary of Egypt

I spent a beautiful day in Tacoma at Holy Resurrection yesterday. Fr John does the whole canon of St Andrew and breaks it up with the life of St Mary of Egypt. I rode down with some friends from St Elizabeth's. After what I think amounted to a 4 hour service, there was a break, and then 9th hour and the pre-sanctified liturgy. Fr Christopher was there and served the liturgy. It was the first time I had been at Holy Resurrection, and the first time I had heard that life of St Mary read aloud. It was very moving.

Troparion - Tone 8

The image of God was truly preserved in you, mother,
for you took up the Cross and followed Christ.
By so doing, you taught us to disregard the flesh, for it passes away,
but to care instead for the soul, since it is immortal.
Therefore your spirit, holy mother Mary, Rejoices with the angels!

Kontakion - Tone 3

Having been a sinful woman,
you became through repentance a Bride of Christ.
Having attained angelic life,
you defeated demons with the weapon of the Cross.
Therefore, most glorious Mary, you are a Bride of the Kingdom!

***

My computer worries are almost over. My dinosaur of a computer gave up the fight. I'd been battling with it for a while. In the meantime I've been making use of the computers at the library. This has been going on for several months. I had decided I would buy a new computer when I got my tax refund, but someone stepped in, and now I have a laptop on the way. It should arrive any day now.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

babies everywhere

It seems everyone I know is having babies. My friends in Beaverton, Bryan and Tiffany, adopted a second baby boy. Bjorn was born last week and taken home last week to join his older brother, Odin. Friends from work, Glenn and Dolly, gave birth over the weekend to Juan Carlos, less than a year after their second daughter was born! My friends and God-parents, Chance and Cybil, have a new daughter, who came three weeks early, on Monday morning. Aaron and Sara have a baby coming in a couple more months. And now Johnand Toy. Glory to God!