Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Do you want to be healed?

A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, "Do you wish to get well?" The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me." -- John 5:5-7 (NASB)
 Its been a few weeks since this reading at St Ignatios, but Jesus' question has been stirring around in my mind for these weeks and I decided to finally put it into the blog.
He asked the man, "Do you want to be healed?". The first running through my mind was that Jesus never forces grace upon anyone. I wrote some thoughts about that once before.
But there was another though that followed soon after: "How many times have people said no?" I know that I have struggled to yes from time to time. I make no secret that I used to drink alcohol to excess (see here, here or here )and certainly I said no many times during those years when I drank. I didn't believe that I had a problem for quite a while. I would tell myself that it wasn't sinful (I knew it really was). I was tell myself and others that it wasn't so bad.
But worst of all I was like the man in the story, I didn't believe I could stop or that there was hope for me. I didn't ask for help from the Lord. I had tried once before to stay sober and failed after 6 months so I gave up on the thought of sobriety and tried to moderation (I failed at that too). Finally, after my year in the seminary it was especially impressed upon me that I had a problem. I tried again to stay sober, but this time I started off by praying in front of the tabernacle at a local parish. A sudden sense of certainty swept over me. I can't explain it properly in words, but I knew from that point that I was free. I have been sober now for 8 years and still going strong.

Enough about myself, the point I am trying to make is that I encourage you to look inward and ask yourself if Jesus has asked you "Do you wish to get well?". Did you say no or did you accept His love and His grace.

May God bless all who read my ramblings,

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Toilets and Popes

I know what your thinking: Why is it titled "Toilets and Popes"? What kind of garbage is he about to spew? I ask to bear with me for this story.

I had to go to Lowes to buy a new toilet. My daughter was along for the ride in the back of the car.
"Daddy, why do we have to get a new toilet?"
"Its a long story." (It wasn't. I just didn't feel like answering.)
"Tell me the story."
"Ok, once upon a time there was a girl named Princess who went with her Daddy to go get a new toilet. The End."
"Tell me another story!"
"Once upon a time there was a man named Peter. Jesus told him, "I give you the keys to my Father's kingdom. Whatsoever you loose on Earth shall be loosed in Heaven." And Peter became the first Pope because with those words Jesus installed him into office as Pope."
"Is that the end?"
"No, Princess. The story continues today. Do you know who the Pope is now?"
"His name is Frances."

May God bless all who read my ramblings,

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Things I like about our local Melkite parish VI

51. Baptism hymn sung at Christmas, Baptism of the Lord and Easter. "All of you who have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia."

52. The week after Easter is called Bright Week.

53. Royal Doors remain open all through Bright Week.

54. King Cosmos shown beneath the Apostles on the Pentecost icon

55. Eyes on the icons.
I've been shown that all righteous people portrayed in the icons have both eyes visible. Eyes are the window to the soul and only Satan, Judas, and demons are portrayed with only one eye visible.

56. Icon of the guardian angel. I really like that an icon was specifically put on the wall for guardian angels. Why don't more parishes have depictions of guardian angels?

57. Its where I'm going to be crowned (married) in October.

58. Our new priest! Ok, so he's been around since August but that's still less than a year. I love that he adds humor into every sermon. He always starts his preaching with this greeting :"Good morning, Saints!".
And as strange as it sounds, I've never met a priest who said God bless you except at confession or if I sneezed. He always makes sure to say it when we're done talking.

59. I love the parish community as a sign of unity. The parish is a motley crew. It was started by Ruthenian Catholics (no one in the parish is Arab or originally Melkite) and taken care of and established as a parish by the Melkite eparchy. The first priest was an Anglican convert who was ordained a Latin Rite who was bi-ritual with the Byzantine Rite. The second priest was an Anglican convert to the Antiochian Orthodox Church who was ordained as a priest in the Orthodox Church and who then reconciled with the Catholic Church to become a Melkite priest. We had a Ukrainian Catholic priest in residence who would celebrate the Divine Liturgy with us from time to time until he was called back to his monastery. Our current priest is a former Orthodox priest who used to be pastor for a Western Rite Orthodox parish.
As Catholic of the various Byzantine Catholic Churches move into the area they start coming to the parish. We have Ukrainian, Ruthenian, and Melkite Catholics. There are also of course Latin Rite Catholics who remain in our parish on a continuing basis. And then there are others like me who came as a Latin Catholic, fell in love, and chose to become Melkite.

60. Its a growing parish and I'm looking to seeing what it will become some day. I enjoy the small intimate size, bu I realize that we must not close off the parish to people who also discover the joy of the East.

May God bless all who read my ramblings,

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